The Center aims to stimulate and facilitate the reflection on the big questions that scientific research raises, on a scientific level as well as in the public debate.
Science and the big questions
Scientific research increasingly raises fundamental questions about the nature of reality and about humans themselves. Does neuroscience imply that consciousness and free will are illusions? Does research on animal behavior show that they, like humans, have morality and can distinguish between good and evil? Does the fact that the universe appears to be fine-tuned for life mean that it may be designed by (a) God? Can religion be explained by evolutionary and psychological mechanisms? What are consequences of scientism and how does it shape worldviews?
The answers to these questions, in turn, raise questions about science itself. Does only science generate reliable knowledge? Can scientific research eventually answer all questions or are there domains in reality that science can never account for? Scientists give diverging answers to these big questions. And these answers matter: they determine our vision on reality, our perception of what it means to be human, and the way in which we (ought to) live our lives and design our societies.
The Abraham Kuyper Center believes in the value of science and the importance of these big questions. The center sees the university as a place in which the relation between science and the big questions can be researched and explored, in education, research, and through scholarly debate.
Two main activities
- Academic research into the relations between science and the big questions and;
- organization of public lectures, discussions, and seminars for a broader audience about these themes. The goal of this is to stimulate academic and public debates about science and the big questions and to raise them to a higher level.
At the Abraham Kuyper Center, we think that scientific research has taught, and continues to teach us fascinating things about what it is to be human, about free will, rationality, morality, and religious belief. At the same time, we believe that there is more to be said about these topics than what natural science has to offer. Philosophical reflection on these topics is necessary, just as contributions from other humanities perspectives.
Name giver Abraham Kuyper
The Center is named after the founder of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper, who had a great interest in the diversity of our sources of knowledge and a keen eye for both the possibilities and the limitations of science.
The three main research projects of the Abraham Kuyper Center are funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation.