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:

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:

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:

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:

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:  NOTE: More information about T. Longman’s teachings can be found in a review of his Genesis commentary [].  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. [])

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:

On their web site, the Templeton Foundation describe their enthusiastic support for the Issachar Fund and the 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:

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:

About Pastor Matthew Dent

I'm a life-long Lutheran who, prior to formal preparation for the ministry, learned most of my theology from good preaching, solid hymnody, and the consistent pattern of sound words found in the church's liturgy in a small church in Western, NY. A "first generation" pastor in my family, I took the "long route" to seminary, working in startups and small companies in the technology and internet sector for 10 years before completing my Bachelor of Arts at Concordia University, Ann Arbor in December of 2004 and continuing my studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, graduating with my M.Div. in 2008. I completed additional residential studies toward an S.T.M. at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and was ordained and first installed in July, 2009. Since January 2014, I have been serving Jesus' Church as pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Standish, Michigan where I live with my wonderful wife, Kelli, and my two kids, Jonathan and Natalie.


AAAS “Science for Seminaries” Program Entering Phase 2 – CSL News — 17 Comments

  1. This is very exciting news. I can hardly wait for the information to trickle down to the lay level of the church. In the meantime I will follow the links. Fascinating.

  2. It’s encouraging to see Biologos involved in this. They can be quite helpful. For instance, their teachings helped one of my friends reject a biblical view of creation and totally buy into Big Bang cosmology and Darwinian evolution, from whence he went on to deny pretty much every teaching of orthodox Christianity.

    Not to worry, though. He’s a member of the Episcopal Church, where he has the liturgy and a supportive environment to nurture his progressive liberalism.

  3. In a nutshell, this new posting about the AAAS and CSL shows that the AAAS and the Templeton Foundation and their allies consider the “Science for Seminaries” program to be a great success precisely for the reason that they see this as a way to get future pastors and their parishioners to accept  evolutionary biology as completely compatible with Christian faith.
    It is about convincing Christians that the Bible and neo-Darwinian evolution are not contradictory as long as you re-interpret the Bible to fit the “fact” of evolution. In other words, for them God’s Word does not determine the truth. Man’s fallible and ever-changing ideas determine the truth. They define science as meaning that molecules to man evolution over millions of years is fact and therefore the Bible is wrong and must be re-interpreted to fit what they call scientific fact.

  4. Additional proposed curriculum courses:

    Your life illuminated: becoming the new Petros of radioactive dating

    In pursuit of the heavens: bridging NASA’s nascent and unremitting credibility gap

    Congregational chaff no more: Techniques for separating the ‘doubting Thomases’ of ordained paleontology and astronomy

    Numbers: The only canonized book you’ll need and the triumph of math over the scientific method in establishing scientific thought

    The pastor transformed: from law and gospel expositor to liaison of subsidized science

  5. Arand and Okamoto, “Concordia Seminary and the Science for Seminaries Grant” in Concordia Journal (Summer 2017), p. 77-78:

    Science in the Curriculum and Classroom
    One of the goals of the Science for Seminaries grant is to acquaint our students with science that touches on theological/anthropological topics. We did this with a pastoral theology course taught by Dr. Robert Weise, and Dr. Timothy Saleska explored related issues within the context of his Psalms course. As he put it in his syllabus:

    “The question that I was interested in having the students think about is, “What does it mean to be human?” Obviously, it is a big question and there are many ways we can try to answer it. In class, for example, we usually study Psalm 8, one of the psalms in which the poet reflects on the marvel that is the human creature. At one point, reflecting his own understanding of what it means to be created in God’s image, the poet says, “You made him lack a little from God, that is, with glory and honor you crowned him. That is, you made him ruler over the works of your hands. Everything you put under his feet.” For God’s people, this insight into who we are in relation to God and in relation to the rest of creation has continuing relevance for thinking about how we should be living our lives in this world. Of course, many other texts direct our thinking on this question as well.”

    Saleska noted the relevance of the question for today.

    “Scientists, philosophers, artists, and authors offer various perspectives, and some of them are very challenging. Advances in science and technology have challenged the conventional boundaries of what it means to be human. What once seemed to be clear lines no longer seem so clear. As a result, important moral and ethical concerns coalesce around the question of what it means to be human. Therefore, it is good that our students have some understanding of what various scientists and philosophers say about this question. In the light of other perspectives, how might they give a winsome Christian witness? The project is designed to give students an opportunity to do that.”

    Saleska wanted the students to provide a scientific perspective on the question, “What does it mean to be human?” From there, “what are possible implications for human life as it is lived in this world that the answer may suggest? What are some of the problems that others have raised in response to the scientific perspective?” Then the students were to develop a project in which they articulated “a winsome Christian vision in answer to this same question” without resorting “to pious platitudes or Sunday-school answers.” They were “in an honest and open way, to identify some questions or problems that their accounts raised or left unsolved.”

  6. For my part, I do not want to call into question all the teachers and all the teaching at Concordia Seminary. Nor do I wish to say that the fact that CSL accepted money from AAAS and the Templeton Foundation automatically means that they are corrupt and are now teaching false doctrine. However, the articles in the summer 2017 issue of the Concordia Journal and the faculty’s apparent defense of them seems to show that, despite assurances that they hold to the Brief Statement, some apparently think that “six days” does not mean “six 24-hour days in a seven-consecutive-day week” and that the rejection of “a process of evolution . . . in immense periods of time” (Brief Statement) does not mean that we cannot still believe, teach, and confess a process of evolution over a period of millions and billions of years (with suffering and death built into a creation that God declares “very good”). I would say that is intellectually dishonest. Clearly, the adoption of the wording of the Brief Statement (and subsequent statements) was meant to exclude such false teaching. It is mere sophistry to try to argue otherwise. Perhaps, still more statements will be needed to address this.

  7. Our seminary would do better to look for more reliable and orthodox sources. If our seminarians need remedial instruction in the sciences, I am confident that the local homeschoolers’ cooperative could provide suitable high-quality instruction.

  8. Yes #10, how about more scripturally and scientifically accurate teachers. Dr David Menton, Spirit Filled Christian, award – winning professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis for 34 yrs, who was good enough to be a featured speaker at the LCMS Creation Society Meeting in St Paul 2016 but has been stoned walled from this venture for speaking the truth.ref. ‘America’s Clergy Are Teaming Up With Scientists” and Concordia Journal Summer 2017. And Dr. Charles Jackson, Spirit Filled Christian former Lutheran youth Pastor (old LCA), PHD in the teaching of all science and permanent member of Mensa, who in his debate with Dr. Burke, Austin University, on Bio Diversity, proved through DNA that man is not related to Chimps and never was. Dr. Burke is a science advisor to The Clergy Letter Project a similar, although atheist based, Theistic Evolution venture as this. See Creation Truth, resources , Dr. Jackson Video Library, Bio Diversity debate – anyone care to debate.

    Fitting scriptures for Theistic Evolution:
    “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3

    – That time is now!

    “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:8

    – Be prepared, evolutionists make sly fun of Jesus for saying: But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.’ Mark 10:6. Evolutionists say: yes, but Jesus didn’t have the knowledge of modern science. Man came much latter than the beginning after the Dinosaurs in fact – are you ready to sign up for that sophism also? Are you?

    Also, Jesus says he will spit you out of his mouth for compromising: Revelation 3:16 and “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”. James 1:8

    God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. Genesis 1:5. No room for years in this description of a day. Nothing could be clearer. Six of these in a row is six days. Reference Colossians 2:8 Dr Jackson, fluent in scripture and science, can help you to break through the sophism of 4.7 Billion years.

  9. Luther was so right in the Letter of Dedication to his thesis on ” Secular Authority To What Extent it Should Be Obeyed” aka “Two Kingdoms”. The sophists in the universities poisonous error has spread through the whole world. Only today much worse on so many different subjects including science. Yes Martin,”So thoroughly has the devil taken possession of the sophists and of the universities, that they themselves do not know what and how they speak or teach”. Satan is definitely deceiving the nations today.The UN is a good one stop example – ponder Revelation 20:7-10.

  10. @Don Collins #11

    That is an excellent point. There are science teachers available with excellent credentials who are faithful to Scripture and whose views do not conflict with Lutheran theology. It was not necessary to allow those with a worldview that contradicts Scripture access to the Seminary.

  11. Thank you Ellen. LCMS needs to be ashamed of themselves for throwing Dr Menton (Wisconsin Synod) under the bus. Where is the Rev Dr Harrison in all of this. Not like it is something new, been going on since 2014 when LCMS got its first $90k+ grant from AAAS.

    To say you are a Christian and you embrace Evolution is an oxymoron. Even Richard Dawkins says it is either God or Evolution. In “The God Delusion”, Dawkins titled the fourth chapter of his book, on the origin of life, “Why There Almost Certainly Is No God” – so not quite sure. This from the most outspoken/published God hater evolutionist of our time.

    Evolutionists are wolves in science smocks. Not caring if they don’t follow the rules of science or the laws of nature. which God put in place, as long as it makes them look like they are right in their imagining. This is why we are so fortunate to have Spirit filled true scientists like Dr Menton and Dr Jackson to expose the sophism of these wolves in science smocks.

    Again Theistic Evolution is an oxymoron.

  12. Swamidass has a problems with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    Identifying himself as a “Christian and career scientist,” Swamidass wrote that scientists were in agreement on the planet’s age—about 4.5 billion years old—and that accepting it didn’t violate any core Christian belief. Ref. 1

    1. SCIENCE: NOT TRUE ‘scientists were in agreement on the planet’s age—about 4.5 billion years old’
    All scientists ARE NOT in agreement that the age of the earth is 4.5 billion years old or that anything else in the universe is billions of years old not by a long-shot. Not 52 years ago (see below) and not now (Ref.2 ).

    Why 52 years ago? This is when Surveyor 1 (SC1)landed solidly (didn’t sink)on the moon’s surface and proved, by proof positive video evidence, that the moon was not covered by large accumulations of dust 15-100 feet thick or thicker. As some contentious scientists (evolutionists) predicted (Ref.3) from supposed billions of years that the moon was exposed to cosmic dust, x rays from the sun, micrometeorite hits, etc.

    This puts into question the billions of years claim and the methods used to come up with that number. No one then was arguing that there wouldn’t be a massive dust build up after billions of years. But there was only slightly more dust build up than was found in the high desert of Calif (dust,volcanic ash etc). see photo: Ref.4. Where the surveyor model was checked for compatibility with the expected surface environment of the Moon. This turned out to be the right place to do the comparison, i.e., Observation, Guess, Test (Scientific Method).

    Neil Armstrong’s first comment after he took a few steps out onto the surface of the Moon, “It has a stark beauty all its own-like the high desert of the United States.”(Ref.5)-thank you Neil for that validation!

    This was and is a very big embarrassment for evolutionists since they made a big fuss about it at the time getting into the newspapers, causing the Astronauts apprehension and suggesting changes to Surveyor and the manned LEM to cope with the deep dust. Surveyor didn’t change a thing LEM changed its landing pads some. You don’t hear Evolutionist admitting they were wrong about this. That is how they are, never admit you are wrong. Just ignore it or dream up some unsubstantiated reason why you are still right (sophism) as you deny the truth. Are these the kind of people LCMS wants advising and teaching seminary students? – wolves in Science Smocks!!

    How do I know all of this? I was a core SC-1 team member for 2yrs with Hughes Aircraft Co.(Surveyor’s designer and builder) through test, evaluation and development, launch, flight and best of all turning on the Terrestrial camera and seeing the low levels of dust on the moon that we expected from the High Desert evaluations. My prime responsibilities on SC-1 were the Telemetry and Command Decoder Systems; and giving the Go for Launch for those systems from the block house on Launch Complex 36A Cape Canaveral (aka Kennedy). Oh one more thing, as Columbo used to say, I’ve been an LCMS Christian since baptism , LCMS schooling and still am. Just don’t want to see the LCMS go the way of ELCA or worse!! As I said in a previous blog where is the Rev. Dr. Harrison in all of this??

    2. CORE CHRISTIAN BELIEF :NOT TRUE. Swamidass: “Accepting the 4.5 billion years didn’t violate any core Christian belief” (ref.1 ). – really! Evolutionists say, in the great unsubstantiated billion year scheme of things, that man didn’t come along until a long time after the dinosaurs were gone. Jesus said this,”Haven’t you read,” he replied. “that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female.Mathew 19:4. Swamidass did you miss reading this in Mathew and Genesis or do you just not believe it – like your Evolutionist brethren? Today evolutionist admit they don’t know when the beginning was but they are absolutely sure man didn’t exist in the beginning?! Swamidass maybe you are just confused or haven’t read these verses in your walk of faith: Jesus is the author of our salvation (Hebrews 5:9), author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) and OUR FAITH DEPENDS ON WHAT HE TELLS US (Romans 10:17).

    Another Swamidass Problem: Swamidass wrote this on a blog post on his lab page, in which he wrote: “it appears that, for some reason, God chose to create humans so that our genomes look as though we do, in fact, have a common ancestor with chimpanzees.”(Ref 1)

    Swamidass, you need to keep up with finding the truth in your discipline. Dr Jackson proved through DNA that man is not now or never was related to chimpanzees. See: Creation Truth, resources , Dr. Jackson Video Library, Bio Diversity debate

    2. Why I believe in a young earth by ex-evolutionist Dr.Grady McMurtry Part 1
    3. News | Fifty Years of Moon Dust: Surveyor 1 was a Pathfinder for Apollo
    4. Lunar legacy: Surveyor 1 turns 50
    5. Wide Awake On The Sea of Tranquility. Published: Jul 20, 1969,NASA SCIENCE SHARE

  13. Very Appropriate Watchword Scripture For This Attempted Infiltration

    “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths”. 2 Timothy 3:4,5

    The time is now, complete with its Myth and Fantasies. Some are now Enchanted and beginning to follow the Pied Piper.

    See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.Col 2:8

    ASK YOURSELF: Does this project depend on Christ, since it is attempting to mix itself with the word (Christ), or does it depend more on tradition (being intellectual) and the elemental spiritual forces of this world (the Myth and Fantasies of Evolution rather than True Science)

  14. There is a utube video everybody reading these blogs should see(Look at Title and URL below).

    The video presents Dr Grady McMurtry, he virtually destroys the billions of years myth of evolution. He is a Christian scientist’s( not the religion) scientist. This video should have been presented 52 years ago, when SC1 landed on the Moon;and blew away the fantasy of the mountains of dust and put into question the billions of years myth and the methods used to estimate those years. But the imaginary scientists were a small, but very vocal, group then. I think most everyone thought, after they had been so embarrassed before the whole world, they would just dry up and blow away.

    No, what happened is they regrouped and have become nastier than ever but just as wrong with a strangle hold on the Universities. Don’t let their smooth professor talk (sophism) and denial fool you (Col 2:8), in most of their hearts, they are just like Richard Dawkins – El Diablo’s own!!!! Read Dawkins “God Delusion” if you are a true evolutionist you will see yourself in that book.

    McMurtry used to be an evolutionist until age 27 when he became a Christian. Which must have been very hard for him to change, since he was raised on the Cal Berkeley campus, his dad was a professor there and Grady was spoon feed evolution as a young child. See the video he talks about this. I talk about saying you are a Christian and believe in evolution is an oxymoron in blog #14. Unless of course you believe in compromising scripture like the Laodiceans you know: people with a halfhearted attitude towards scripture. Jesus said he would spit you out of His mouth Rev 3:16-18 for being lukewarm as he puts it.

    One more thing. Again The Billions of years proposition is not a theory or even a good guess it is a myth, even a good guess has to be based on something. Evolutionist have nothing but their imagination. You know like C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkin. Although Tolkin did tell Lewis there is one myth that is true ,i.e., the story of Jesus Christ. A theory needs to be based on some sort of hypothetical evidence. Like Newton saw the empirical evidence of gravity before he came up with the theory. Without this evidence there is only a guess or myth. And anyone can guess or come up with a myth!!!! – to fool you or steer you away from the truth!!!!

    As McMurtry says in the beginning of this video and throughout, EVOLUTIONISTS HAVE NO EVIDENCE.

    The story of Creation reads like a good science narrative describing the assembly of the universe. The problem for some people is they reject it because they want to be the god and the most intelligent being in the universe. So they come up with a figment for their imagination: called the billions of years of evolution.

    P.S. Below are the title and the complete URL

    Why I believe In A Young Earth.—DGusm2e_tMjwpmMkfkmQk41DoL

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