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November 20, 2018

SVSU professor receives grant for book on intersection of science and religion

Jeff Koperski John Templeton recipientJeffrey Koperski, professor of philosophy at Saginaw Valley State University, has received nearly $90,000 from the John Templeton Foundation to fund his book project focused on science and religion.

Koperski describes the forthcoming book, “Laws, Determinism, and Divine Action,” as a way to discuss issues from both science and religion.

“A lot of what I do is at the intersection of science and religion,” he said. “Theologians and philosophers of religion sometimes appeal to science, especially physics, but that is not their training.”

Other times, there are scientists interested in matters of religion, but they don't have training in religion or theology, Koperski explained.

“A lot of the fights that you see in the context of science and religion are actually matters of philosophy and the philosophy of science, which neither scientists nor theologians have expertise in,” he said.

“I am trying to straighten out what I think are misperceptions and misapplications of matters of science and physics as they apply to certain matters of religion.”

His expertise in two very different disciplines aided his interest in the research. Koperski has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Ohio State University, as well as a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Dayton.

“Philosophy is a big field. My area of specialization is a philosophy of science, so I've been able to use my engineering degree to understand issues in science that some philosophers might be intimidated by,” Koperski said.

“I would not be able to do philosophy of science as well, especially philosophy of physics, if I didn't know about differential equations that I learned as an engineer.”

The John Templeton Foundation typically funds projects on matters of science and religion. They awarded Koperski a $89,787 grant.

“They're not dictating any particular conclusion. They will support grants that don't necessarily agree with what their board thinks, and they do support a lot of proposals, but usually not books. Mine is kind of unusual in that they would give a grant to one person and the main project is a book,” Koperski said.

“I feel very fortunate that they chose this one.”

Koperski joined the SVSU philosophy faculty in 1997. He has previously authored or co-authored at least 15 scholarly articles that have appeared in academic journals or books.