A World of Difference: Wesleyan Tradition and the Scientific Method in Global Contexts

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Scholarship Domain(s)

Scholarship of Interdisciplinary Integration, Scholarship of Faith Integration


How is the spread of Christianity related to that of the scientific method? Does the Christian obligation, as John Wesley characterizes it, “to contemplate what [God] has wrought, and to understand as much of it as we are able” (God’s Approbation of His Works, 1782) threaten cultural or communal idiosyncrasies? That is, if the methodologies which have come to govern scientific inquiry are to be normative for gathering, analyzing, critiquing, and improving upon human knowledge worldwide, then does the present pattern of globalization somehow undermine the value of experience—a basic tenet of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral? Is there an alternative to either intellectual syncretism on the one hand or a uniform, monolithic, worldwide scientific methodology on the other? What of tendencies for scientific inquiry (and theology, for that matter) to be steered in service to socio-economic gains? Taking cues from anti-positivism, Wesley’s corpus, and other relevant sociological and philosophical sources, we will analyze and critique the popularization of the scientific method as it relates to cultural assimilation within the globalizing repository of ideas. We will also offer suggestions for ways in which Wesleyans in particular may uphold a common commitment (a) to rigorous inquiry across the spectrum of academic and spiritual disciplines and (b) the particularity of experience which serves to celebrate the diversity within nature.


Originally presented on the theme “Thinking about the Book of Nature: Developing a Philosophy of Science and Religion,” held at the 15th Annual Meeting of the Wesleyan Philosophical Society, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, CA, March 10, 2016

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