Dr Sarah Lane Ritchie (BA, MDiv, MSc, PhD)

Lecturer in Theology and Science

Background

I work at the intersection of theology and the sciences, and am particularly fascinated by questions surrounding the human mind, the relationship between God and the physical world, the phenomenology and cognitive development of religious belief, and the complex ways in which scientific research can play a role in constructive theological scholarship. 

Originally from Michigan, I have always experienced both science and theology as reality-seeking enterprises, which (at their best) both bring human beings into contact with a deeper understanding of the universe. As such, I began my undergraduate studies in biology and psychology, only to be wooed by the philosophy & religion program at Spring Arbor University. From there, I went on to complete a Master of Divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary, where I was deeply influenced by those scholars who were doing inherently interdisciplinary work: Professor Wentzel van Huyssteen in Science & Religion (with whom I particularly focused on the neurobiology of religious experience and the evolution of religion), Professor Robert Dykstra in pastoral theology (whose work brings theology into contact with psychology and neurobiology), and Professor Richard Osmer in practical theology (whose work heavily emphasizes the psychological and developmental aspects of belief formation). After graduating from PTS, I moved to Edinburgh to complete an MSc in Science & Religion at the School of Divinity. 

My doctoral work in Science and Religion was also completed at New College, the University of Edinburgh, under the supervision of Dr Mark Harris. The title of my dissertation was "With God in Mind: Divine Action and the Naturalisation of Consciousness." This project focused on the question of how divine realities relate to physical matter (the so-called 'causal joint problem'), and particularly on the question of whether the human mind should be thought of immaterial or 'more than physical,' or whether the theological framework of theistic naturalism provides the resources to affirm the sheer physicality of the human person. 

After completing my PhD, I moved to the University of St Andrews to work with John Perry on the Science-Engaged Theology project, a project funded by the John Templeton Foundation that seeks to encourage theological work to engage with the natural and biological sciences as a 'normal' part of doing theology well. 

 

CV

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Qualifications

BA (Major: Philosophy and Religion, Minors: Biology and Psychology): Spring Arbor University, 2008

MDiv: Princeton Theological Seminary, 2012

MSc (Science and Religion): University of Edinburgh, 2014

PhD (Science and Religion): University of Edinburgh, 2017

Responsibilities & affiliations

Lecturer in Theology and Science at New College, University of Edinburgh

Vice-Convener, Theological Forum of the Church of Scotland

Council Member of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT)

Book Reviews Editor for 'Theology in Scotland'

View all 22 publications on Research Explorer