AAAS “Science for Seminaries” Program Entering Phase 2 – CSL News

In November 2016, the committee for Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion of the American Association for the Advancement of Science issued their final report on the “Science for Seminaries” program.

Concordia St. Louis was one of the Seminaries selected by AAAS in partnership with the Association of Theological Schools (the group that accredits our seminaries and colleges) to participate in the pilot program.

According to the final report, “Pilot seminaries were required to propose fresh content and not merely maintain a status quo of pre-established science engagement. Faculty from each institution were asked to propose at least two revisions to ATS-defined core course areas—systematic theology, biblical studies, church history, and pastoral theology—while additional ideas could be proposed for popular elective courses.”

“Funded seminaries began planning and implementing revised curricula in the 2014-2015 school year. Other new courses and additional revisions have now been implemented into second and third years, into the spring of 2017.” (Source: http://www.scienceforseminaries.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/ScienceforSeminariesFinalReportPublished-1.pdf)

For the 2016-2017 academic year, CSL submitted information for four courses:

Problems in Preaching (Prof. Robert W. Weise): The highlighted content related to the science topics of History & Philosophy of Science, Life Sciences was a class discussion “Preaching in this 21st Century Biotech World” led by Prof. Weiss. (Source: http://www.scienceforseminaries.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Concordia.Weise_.ProblemsInPreaching.2015-.pdf)

Pastoral Theology (Prof. Robert W. Weise): The highlighted content related to the science topics of Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind, was an October 30th, 2016 lecture focusing on “working with God’s people of all ages who have specific disabilities,” presented by Christina Ruzicka, Adjunct Professor in Applied Behavior Analysis, St. Louis, MO. As well as classroom discussion about “Aging and Congregational Care” focused around H. Nouwen’s book, “Aging, the Fulfillment of Life” as well as Mueller/Kraus’ “Pastoral Theology” by CPH. (Source: http://www.scienceforseminaries.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Concordia.Weise_.PastoralTheology.-2014.pdf)

Psalms and Writings (Prof. Timothy E. Saleska): The highlighted content related to the science topics of History & Philosophy of Science, Physics and Cosmos was an untitled lecture by Joel Okamoto (Chair of Systematics at CSL) as well as an optional project to, “Read the Chapters and Chapter Excerpts provided by the instructor and write a 5 – 6 page paper interacting with them and reflecting on how the viewpoints they present might affect your Christian vocabulary and the way you tell the Christian story.” (Source: http://www.scienceforseminaries.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Concordia.Saleska.PsalmsWritings.2016.pdf)

Exodus and Torah (Prof. Timothy E. Saleska): The highlighted content related to the science topics of History & Philosophy of Science, Physics and Cosmos was two readings in preparation for two days labelled, “Genesis (Special)” for which students were to prepare by reading the assigned readings. The first reading was authored by T. Longman and was entitled, “What Genesis 1-2 Teaches (and What It Doesn’t).”  The second reading was authored by J. Walton entitled, “Reading Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology.” (Source: http://www.scienceforseminaries.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Concordia.Saleska.Exodus-and-Torah.2016.pdf  NOTE: More information about T. Longman’s teachings can be found in a review of his Genesis commentary [http://theaquilareport.com/longmans-new-genesis-commentary-a-critical-review/].  Christianity Today ran an article about J. Walton’s book, The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2–3 and the Human Origins Debate. [http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/march/lost-world-of-adam-and-eve.html])

The “Science for Seminaries” program was such a success that it has been expanded with the help of a $6,182,109 grant provided by the John Templeton Foundation.

The Templeton Foundation web page announcing the grant enthusiastically states, “By focusing on core seminary courses, we guarantee that all students at target institutions will be exposed to science and its many implications for religion. It ensures that more seminarians will graduate with an appreciation of science and its relevance to their future ministries. Those congregations will benefit from an atmosphere that is conducive to thoughtful engagement with science, allowing a larger number of parishioners to encounter science constructively. The religious public will increasingly find less conflict and more confluence between science and their faith. Finally, they will be better equipped to engage life’s big questions.” (Source: https://www.templeton.org/grant/science-for-seminaries-phase-ii)

On their web site, the Templeton Foundation describe their enthusiastic support for the Issachar Fund and the Biologos.org initiative by saying, “In partnership with the Issachar Fund, the John Templeton Foundation has provided continuing support for The BioLogos Foundation, an organization exploring the harmony of evolutionary biology and the Christian faith.” (Source: https://www.templeton.org/partners)

Biologos proudly states, “BioLogos invites the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation.” (Source: https://biologos.org)

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