Postdoc Science & Religion: Replicating the Study of John Hedley Brooke

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Postdoc Science & Religion: Replicating the Study of John Hedley Brooke
  • University Graduate
FTE: 0.8 - 1
VU unit: Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy, & Faculty of Religion and Theology, Department Beliefs and Practices
Educational Level: PhD

Job description

The aim of this 1-year postdoc is to carry out a replication study of John Hedley Brooke’s 1991 monograph Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives (2nd ed. 2014). While the subtitle of this book may suggest that this is a somewhat loose collection of essays, it is in fact a coherent monograph that defends, on the basis of a large number of case-studies, the so-called complexity thesis against both the conflict thesis and apologetic attempts to use science to defend religion. Brooke’s complexity thesis has been championed by many in the science & religion field. However, it has also been severely criticized, among others by Canadian sociologist Yves Gingras (e.g., in Science and Religion: An Impossible Dialogue (Cambridge: Polity Press 2017)). Such writings have themselves given rise to further criticisms and counter-criticisms, for instance, by Peter Harrison. It would, therefore, be desirable if the main conclusions of John Brooke’s original book could be replicated. In order for the project to be feasible, the postdoc will focus on the results of chapter III of the book, which argues that there is a positive correlation between religious reform and scientific reform.

The replication study will be pre-registered in accordance with the guidelines of the Open Science Foundation. The postdoc shall re-analyse the data provided in chapter III of the book, but also study new data from different religious reforms. The team will organize several consultation sessions in order to make sure the original research methods are fully understood and taken into account.

The project will be carried out in close collaboration with the subproject’s and the project’s leaders, to wit: Rik Peels, Gijsbert van den Brink, Lex Bouter, René van Woudenberg, and Jeroen de Ridder. The position includes ample funding for research and travel. A detailed project description is available here. Candidates are strongly encouraged to read the project description carefully when preparing their application. The postdoc project should start September 2021. The project is embedded both in the Philosophy Department (Faculty of Humanities) and the Faculty of Religion and Theology.

Your duties
  • publish one peer-reviewed replication study in a leading journal in the field of science & religion (e.g., Zygon; Theology and Science; Philosophy, Theology, and the Sciences; Science, Religion and Culture; Reviews in Science and Religion) and publish one peer-reviewed article on replication in science & religion in a leading general philosophy of science journal (e.g. Philosophy of Science, British Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science, Research Integrity and Peer Review)
  • give at least two conference presentations
  • co-organize a workshop on replication in the humanities


Candidates should hold a PhD in the discipline of religion studies, philosophy or any other relevant field in the humanities. The candidate should have demonstrable affinity with the contemporary science & religion debate. Excellent spoken and written English as well as strong academic writing skills are essential.

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a gross monthly salary of € 3.491 (scale 10.5). The job profile  'Onderzoeker 4' is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The initial employment contract starts on 1 September 2021 and will affect a period of 1 year.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

Faculty of Humanities
The Faculty of Humanities links a number of fields of study: Language, Literature and Communication, Art & Culture, History, Antiquities and Philosophy. Our teaching and research focus on current societal and scientific themes: from artificial intelligence to visual culture, from urbanization to the history of slavery, from ‘fake news’ in journalism to communication in organizations. We strive to ensure small group sizes. Innovative education and interdisciplinary research are our hallmarks.

Working at the Faculty of Humanities means making a real contribution to the quality of leading education and research in an inspiring and personal work and study climate. We employ more than 250 staff members, and we are home to around 1,300 students.

The Philosophy Department
The Department of Philosophy, which is one of three departments of the Faculty of Humanities, is a vibrant and international community of philosophers committed to high-quality teaching and research in various areas of philosophy. The Theoretical Philosophy group, where the advertised positions will be based, is internationally recognized as an outstanding research group, with strengths in particular in epistemology and philosophy of science.

Faculty of Religion and Theology
The Faculty of Religion and Theology is a leading academic center of expertise on religion in society. Its students, lecturers and researchers focus on the major questions in society and in religious communities. We study religious traditions, sources and contemporary expressions of the religious experience. The faculty practices ‘engaged scholarship’ as expressed in cooperation with governments and partners in civil society on themes such as war and peace, sustainable development and inter-religious dialogue. We are the most comprehensive theological faculty worldwide, with ten seminaries that encompass all world religions and many Christian denominations.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button until April 25, 2021

To apply, please submit the following materials (all in English) via the online system:
  • a cover letter in which you describe your motivation and qualifications
  • a curriculum vitae
  • a published paper

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Samira van der Loo
Position: Project manager Abraham Kuyper Center

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