Stefani Ruper


Thesis title: 

Salvation through Science Alone: The Soteriological Potential of Science in the Case Studies of Ursula Goodenough, Sam Harris, and EO Wilson


Donovan Schaefer


My work explores the concepts of salvation, of human nature, of affect, and of science. I posit that we think of salvation not as a doctrine provided to religious adherents, but rather as an affective act of all individuals. As biological creatures capable of both feeling deep emotions as well as asking Big Questions, we are saddled with awarenss of our frailty, impermanence, and impotence. I call this Existential Anxiety. We each mitigate our own existential anxiety in different ways, based on what is available to us in our environment. To demonstrate ways in which we "save" ourselves, I use the case studies of Ursula Goodenough, Sam Harris, and EO Wilson's relationships with science, which are imbued in their own ways with "religious" tones and soteriological potential.

Research area:

Science and Religion


Ian Ramsey Center Templeton Foundation Grant


Metaphysics Matters: Metaphysics and Soteriology in Jerome Stone's and Donald Crosby's Varities of Religious Naturalism in Zygon Volume 49, no. 2, 308-322 June 2014.

Other research interests:

Metaphysics, Philosophical Theology, Existentialism, Pragmatism

About me:

I have a BA in biogeochemistry from the earth sciences department at Dartmouth College, in which I studied astrobiology and extreme life forms. I aspired to discover profound about the nature of life and the universe in these studies. I ended up being able to push the  bounds of current limitations to life's survivability. I did not get to explore the meaning of this discovery to the depth that I wished, however, so I enrolled in a master's program where I knew discussions of meaning were alive and well - at the Boston University School of Theology's program in Science and Religion. There I studied religious naturalism under Wesley Wildman and Robert Neville. I received an MTS in 2013, and enrolled at Oxford under the tutelage of Alister McGrath and Donovan Schaefer in 2015.

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