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THE BROTHERS BONHOEFFER ON SCIENCE, MORALITY, AND THEOLOGY

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Abstract.

On one level this is a case study in science, religion, and morality, with special attention to the consequences for morality of science's embeddedness in society. On another level this is the science-and-theology dialogue between the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his brother Karl-Friedrich, a physicist. The influence of Karl-Friedrich and the brothers’ exchanges on Dietrich's prison theology receives special attention. Because this study is set in Germany in the 1930s and 40s, and Karl-Friedrich's work intersected Germany's efforts to develop a nuclear weapon, the discussion leads to Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project. The attention there is to the interplay of science, religion, and morality at the time the bomb was detonated at the Trinity site.
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Keywords: Dietrich Bonhoeffer; Fritz Haber; Karl-Friedrich Bonhoeffer; Leo Szilard; Manhattan Project; Robert Oppenheimer; deus ex machina; individual and communal moral responsibility; science, morality, and religion; scientific knowledge; theology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, New York City. His mailing address is 605 Calle de Marcos, Santa Fe, NM 87505;, Email: lrryrasmussen@yahoo.com.

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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