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"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Secularisation of science - study questions

The Secularization of Science was originally a lecture delivered at the first congress of the International Association for Reformed Faith and Action in Montpellier, in 1953 by Herman Dooyeweerd

It was published in

1954. La Revue Reformee V: 138-155. (In French)

It was translated by Robert Knudsen and was published in:

1964 International Reformed Bulletin (No 26) (July):2-17

It was subsequently published with the above cover, as a booklet in 1979, by Christian Studies Center, Memphis, TN.

Several copies are available on line:

Questions to bear in mind as you read the booklet

What is meant by the term “secularisation”?

What is meant by the term “science”?

What is meant by the dogma of the autonomy of religious thought?

What does Dooyeweerd mean by the secularisation of science?

How and why does science become secularised?

How should we respond?


1.     What is the connection between scientific thought and religion?

2.     Can science/ scholarship be free of personal belief?

3.     What personal beliefs (if any) may influence science/ scholarship?

4.     Dooyeweerd seems to suggest:
Religious secularisation à secularisation of science à secularisation of life

Why does he think it starts with religious secularisation. How did this religious secularisation occur?

5.     What does Dooyeweerd see as the missionary task of the church?

6.     In what way has science/ scholarship become a satanic power?
Is this true of all science/ scholarship?

7.     What is cultural differentiation?

8.     Why does Dooyeweerd disagree with the statement that “The secularisation of science is nothing more than the natural result of cultural differentiation?”

9.     Dooyeweerd rejects the idea that religion is to be restricted to a special realm of temporal life. Why does he reject this notion? Would you agree?

10.  Dooyeweerd maintains that science/ scholarship is “no longer venerated as a goddess, it can nevertheless manifest itself as a demon…”
In what ways can science/ scholarship be venerated?
In what ways can science/ scholarship manifest itself as a demon?

11.  Dooyeweerd writes:
“It is a vain illusion to suppose that Christian faith has only to do with this world beyond and has nothing to do with science.”
What has Christian faith to do with science/ scholarship?

12.  Why does Dooyeweerd suggest that what is needed is  “no less than an inner reformation of the spirit of science/ scholarship”?

13.  How does Dooyeweerd suggest that this inner reformation can take place?

The central motive of divine revelation

14.  What does Dooyeweerd mean by the motive of divine revelation having an integral and radical character?

15.  What does it mean that it “excludes any dualistic conception on [humanity] and the world”?

16.  What does Dooyeweerd mean that the motive is “threefold”?

17.  Why does Dooyeweerd suggest that the “fall of [humanity] entails the fall of the entire temporal creation”?

18.  What is the mistake regarding creation that the Thomistic philosophers make?

19.  Why does our knowledge of ourselves depend upon our knowledge of God?

20.  Why is it necessary that the redemption in Christ has a radical and integral character?

The dualistic motive of accommodation

21.  Why should a dialectical tension between the creation and re-creation be anti-biblical?

22.  What does Dooyeweerd understand by the term “common grace”?

23.  What is meant by the term antithesis? How is it different from the way Hegel, for example, used it?

24.  Why was Augustine “never able to provide an adequate solution to the problem of Christian philosophy”? What is the problem of Christian philosophy?

25.  What is the relationship between philosophy and theology? Why should philosophy not be “accommodated to Christian doctrine”?

26.  What is wrong by seeing the fields of science/ scholarship/ scholarship from the theological point of view?

27.  How does Dooyeweerd view the relationship of nature and grace?

28.  What happens when an aspect of creation becomes deified?

The Greek motive of form and matter

29.  What are the origins of the Greek ground-motive of form and matter?

30.  How is the form and matter ground-motive expressed the Greek conception of human nature?

The disintegration of the Medieval synthesis

31.  What are the main similarities and differences between Occam and Thomism?

32.  What does Dooyeweerd mean by scholasticism?

33.  What are the directions in which Christian thought in the West (the Occident) return to?

The failure of the Reformation

34.  What was the failure of the Reformation?

35.  What was the problem with Theodore Beza’s approach?

The influence of humanism
36.  How was the process of secularisation nothing more than the logical outworking of the genius of science itself?

37.  How did the nature and freedom ground-motive arise from the secularisation if the biblical ground-motive

38.  How do the personality ideal and the science ideal relate to the nature and freedom ground-motive?

39.  Which thinkers epitomise the science ideal-  why?

40.  Which thinkers epitomise the personality ideal -  why?

41.  Why is the science ideal described as mechanistic and the personality ideal described as humanistic?

42.  In what ways do Marx and Darwin show “an inextinguishable faith in the liberating power of science”?


43.  “There is no natural reason that is independent of the religious driving force which controls the heart of human existence” Has Dooyeweerd convinced you?

44.  How does all this shape your own scholarship?

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