Outer Space and the Inner Soul
These days find Ted working with colleagues Robert John Russell and Martinez Hewlett in the field of Astrotheology, an exploration of the way Outer Space finds a home in the Inner Soul. He began expressing interest in the question of extraterrestrial life when drawing implications for secular religion out of the UFO phenomenon in his pioneering book, UFO’s–God’s Chariots? Flying Saucers in Politics, Science, and Religion. UFOs become a topic for theological analysis for two reasons: (1) directly, numerous cults incorporate UFOs into their religious worldview; and (2) indirectly, the UFO phenomenon provides a microcosm for understanding the hidden depths of religious meaning in a secularized and scientific culture. In recent years he has begun working with astrophysicists and astrobiologists on the ethics of space exploration.
The Stem Cell Controversy
At the time human embryonic stem (hES) cells were first isolated in 1998, Ted had begun serving on the Ethics Advisory board of the Geron Corporation, which funded the research. He currently serves on the Scientific and Medical Research Standards Working Group of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Along with colleagues Karen Lebacqz and Gaymon Bennett, he has co-authored, Sacred Cells? Why Christians Should Support Stem Cell Research.
The Evolution Controversy
During the first decade of this century, Ted worked closely with his friend and colleague in evolutionary biology and virology, Martinez Hewlett. Together they published three books outlining and evaluating the culture war over evolution–the war between atheists, creationists, intelligent design advocates, and theistic evolutionists.
Sin, Evil, and Suffering
After his study of new age spiritually published in the book, The Cosmic Self, Ted turned to research on Satanic ritual abuse and related forms of human evil, with a special focus on torture and genocide. His book, Sin–Radical Evil in Soul and Society, picks up where the neo-orthodox theologians had left off, namely, by identifying anxiety as the fertile soil within which human violence grows. He outlined seven steps toward radical evil: (1) anxiety; (2) unfaith; (3) pride; (4) concupiscence; (5) self-justification and scapegoating; (6) cruelty; and (7) blasphemy. This study was followed up with the Berkeley research group studying “Evolution, Theodicy, and Genocide,” resulting in the edited volume, The Evolution of Evil.
The Wolves of Jack London
Ted is fascinated with the literary figure, Jack London. London’s wolf trilogy begins with his popular Call of the Wild, wherein a dog from San Francisco goes to Alaska and becomes a wolf. This is followed by White Fang, wherein a wolf from Alaska goes to San Francisco and becomes a dog. In the third, The Sea Wolf, a Danish ship captain named Wolf Larsen is both human and beast. London’s message: beneath the thin veneer of civilization, the human race remains rooted in its evolutionary past, where the survival for existence defines existence. Ted offers a Darwinian interpretation of London.
Biological Determinism vs. Human Freedom
Can we say, “my genes made me do it”? No. Ted served as Principal Investigator in a U.S. National Institutes of Health Study on the “Theological and Ethical Questions Raised by the Human Genome Initiative,” asking about the potency of genetic determinism. He concludes that even though genes are determinative, we human beings retain both our freedom and our responsibility. Francis Collins, Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, writes the foreword for this book, Playing God? (Routledge), now in its second edition.