Theology & the Research Sciences - 2016

In all of its activities, the Theology of Joy and the Good Life project seeks to involve and integrate the work of scholars in a variety of disciplines. For this reason, the project hosted a consultation on Theology and the Research Sciences. 

Consultation participants provided a deeper understanding of the relationship between the research sciences and theology (which we see as a particular case of the relationship between research sciences and humanities). We hope that this consultation will open up possibilities as well as encourage future collaboration between theology and the research sciences.

Contributing Scholars

C. Robert Cloninger is Wallace Renard Professor of Psychiatry, Professor of Psychology and Genetics, and Director of the Sansone Family Center for Well-Being at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He is also Scientific Director of the Anthropedia Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to development of human well-being through initiatives in health care and education. He received his B.A. with High Honors and Special Honors in Philosophy, Psychology, and Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, 1966. He received his M.D. from Washington University in 1970, and Honorary Doctorates from the University of Umea in 1983 (MD in Genetics) and University of Gothenburg in 2012 (PhD in Psychology). He is widely cited and honored for his innovative biopsychosocial research that spans the genetics, neurobiology, development, psychology, brain imaging, and assessment of personality, psychopathology, well-being, and spirituality. His personality inventories have been used in more than 6000 peer-reviewed publications around the world. 

Relevant Work: 
Cloninger CR (2004): Feeling Good: The Science of Well-being. New York: Oxford University Press.
Cloninger CR. Spirituality and the Science of Feeling Good. South Med J. 2007 Jul; 100(7): 740-3. PMID: 17639764
Cloninger CR. What makes people healthy, happy, and fulfilled in the face of current world challenges? Mens Sana Monographs 2013; 11:16-24. PMID 23678235 
Anthropedia Foundation website:

Dr. Robert A. Emmons is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis where he has taught since 1988. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He is the author of over 200 original publications in peer reviewed journals or chapters and has written or edited five books, including Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Gratitude Works! A Twenty-One Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity, and The Little Book of Gratitude. A leader in positive psychology, Dr. Emmons is founding editor and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. He is Past-President of the American Psychological Association’s Division 36, The Psychology of Religion. His research focuses on the psychology of gratitude and thankfulness in both adults and youth, and also include the psychology and spirituality of joy and grace as they relate to human flourishing. His research on gratitude has been featured in dozens of popular media outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, NPR and PBS.

Relevant Work: 
Emmons, R.A. (2016). The Little Book of Gratitude. London: Gaia.
Emmons, R.A. (2013). Gratitude Works! A Twenty-One Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Emmons, R.A. (2007). THANKS! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin. (reprinted in paperback titled THANKS! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier: New York: Mariner Books, 2008). 14 foreign translations.
Emmons, R.A. (1999).  The psychology of ultimate concerns:  Motivation and spirituality in personality.  New York:  The Guilford Press.
Emmons, R.A., & McCullough, M.E. (Eds.). (2004) The psychology of gratitude.  New York: Oxford University Press.

John Hare is the Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale University. His expertise, passions, and interests are: Philosophy of Religion, Philosophical Theology, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Medieval Franciscan Theology, Immanuel Kant, Soren Kierkegaard, Contemporary Moral Theory, Aesthetics, Church Music.

Relevant Work: 
God’s Command, Oxford University Press, 2015.  
‘Moral Motivation’ in Games, Groups, and the Global Good, ed.Simon Levin, Springer, 2009.  
‘Is there an Evolutionary Foundation for Human Morality?’, in Evolution and Ethics, 
ed. Philip Clayton and Jeffrey SchlossEerdmans, 2204. 

Lynn Underwood, Ph.D. is Senior Research Associate at the Inamori International Center for Ethics at Case Western Reserve University and Honorary Fellow at the University of Liverpool Centre for Research into Reading, Information Systems and Linguistics. Originally trained in medicine, she holds a Ph.D. in epidemiology, and is an elected member of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine. She was awarded a Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress, and was part of an interdisciplinary project on the nature of the human person, in Greece. One of her areas of expertise is study design and research methodology and measurement, especially for complex research topics. Her consulting practice helps organizations as they try to incorporate spirituality into their work and evaluate the effects of religious and spiritual practices and values on staff and those they serve. She also lectures and facilitates workshops, and advises people throughout the world who use the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale. She is currently a consultant on projects for Harvard University, the Cleveland Clinic, the University of Connecticut and a variety of social services organizations. She has a passion for the visual arts and has illustrated stories and publications, and painted the cover art for two published books.

Relevant Work:
The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale: Overview and Results. Religions. 2011; Underwood L.G. 2(1): 29-50.; (It has been translated into over 40 languages and has been used in over 300 studies.)
Spiritual Connection in Daily Life, Templeton Press, 2013. 
Investigating and Exploring Spiritual Experience in Daily Life, Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 30 and 31, 2015.
“The Human Being as revealed more fully in Disability and In Extremis,” European Research Network meeting: The human person in the 21st Century. Thessaloniki, Greece, April 22-25, 2007. 

“A Cross-Cultural Study of Spirituality, Religion, and Personal Beliefs as components of Quality of Life,” written on behalf of the WHOQOL SRPB Group by O’Connell and Saxena and Underwood, Social Science and Medicine, 62 (2006) 1486–1497.
“Interviews with Trappist Monks as a Contribution to Research Methodology in the Investigation of Compassionate Love.” Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 35:3, 285-302, 2005. 
“A Working Model of Health: Spirituality and Religiousness as Resources: Applications to Persons with Disability,” Underwood L. Journal of Religion, Disability & Health, Volume 3, No. 3 1999, 51-71.

Patty Van Cappellen is the Associate Director of the Interdisciplinary and Behavioral Research Center at Duke University. Patty earned her Ph.D. in Social Psychology in 2012 from the Univeristé catholique de Louvain, Belgium. She then moved to do a postdoc with Barbara Fredrickson at UNC-Chapel Hill where 3 years later she became Research Assistant Professor. She also earned a Master in Biblical Studies in 2014 from the Faculty of Theology in Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. She leads the Morality, Spirituality, and Health Laboratory. She is an experimental social psychologist investigating such questions as “Why do people turn to religion or spirituality?” and “What are the psychological, contextual, and biological underpinnings of religion’s best and worst outcomes?” Currently, she is particularly interested in the study of self-transcendent emotions (e.g., awe, elevation), their relation to meaning in life and well-being, and their biological underpinnings. She uses experimental designs and quantitative analyses. She also does qualitative study of positive emotions in the Hebrew Bible working in the original language of the texts. 

Relevant Work:
Van Cappellen, P. (in press). Rethinking self-transcendent positive emotions: Perspectives from psychological and biblical research. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.
Van Cappellen, P., Toth-Gauthier, M., Saroglou, V., & Fredrickson, B. (2016). Religion and well-being: The mediating role of positive emotions. Journal for Happiness Studies, 17, 485-505.
Van Oyen, G. & Van Cappellen, P. (2015). Mark 15, 34 and the real reader: The results of an empirical survey. Ephemerides Theologica Lovanienses, 91, 569-599.
Van Cappellen, P., Saroglou, V., Iweins, C., Piovesana, M., & Fredrickson, B., L. (2013). Self- transcendent positive emotions increase spirituality through basic world assumptions. Cognition and Emotion, 27, 1378-1394. 
Van Cappellen, P. & Saroglou, V. (2012). Awe activates religious and spiritual feelings and behavioral intentions. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 4, 223-236.
Published in French:
Van Cappellen, P. (2012). La fierté dans les Psaumes, ou le paradoxe de la glorification de soi en Dieu. [Pride in the Psalms, or the paradox of self-glorification in God]. Revue Théologique de Louvain, 43, 341-362.
Van Cappellen, P. (2011). Un rituel collectif: Analyse de 1 Ch 15-16 selon le modèle de E. Durkheim [A collective ritual : analyze of 1 Chr 15-16 from E. Durkheim’s perspective]. Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament, 25, 289-302.
See for additional references and PDFs. 

JTF Logo The Theology of Joy & the Good Life project is made possible by the John Templeton Foundation with additional support from the McDonald Agape Foundation.