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Science for Ministry

Science for Ministry Institute

Course Descriptions

The Creation of the Universe in Science and Scripture – Three-day, elective course focused on the origins of the universe both as understood in contemporary scientific cosmology and as presented in Christian scripture. This course pays specific attention to the competing scientific theories about the early moments of the universe in contemporary physics, and to the various biblical creation narratives that also functioned as competing cosmologies in their historical context.

The Challenge of Human Evolution – Three-day, elective course devoted to the specific theological challenges posed by the idea of humans evolving from and in continuity with all other living species. This course will include an overview of the history and current state of paleoanthropology, a survey of key theological concepts like the “Fall,” human sin, human nature, incarnation, and salvation, and an introduction to contemporary, interdisciplinary responses to these challenges.

The Human Person in a Technological Age – Three-day, elective course exploring the many rapid advances in technology that contribute to the shape of contemporary society. This course pays special attention to the expanding role of “biotechnology” and the ways in which such devices could both challenge and expand our theological perspectives on what it means to be “human” and related soteriological and eschatological questions.

Spirituality in Theology and Psychology – Three-day, elective course devoted to the rapidly expanding literature on “spirituality” in both theology and psychology. This course explores the challenges and opportunities that arise when these disciplines (and their subdisciplines) are brought into dialogue around questions of spiritual formation and discipleship.

Cognitive Science, Neuroscience and the Human Person – Three-day, elective course devoted to the rapidly expanding disciplines of neuroscience and the cognitive sciences. This course focuses on the various ways in which these “brain sciences” potentially shape our understanding of the human person, and the theological challenges and opportunities provided by such understandings.

Wolfhart Pannenberg: Systematic Theology in a Scientific Age – Three-day, elective course focused on the theological thought of Wolfhart Pannenberg, a late twentieth-century systematic theologian deeply concerned with both the integrity of the Christian faith and the seriousness of the challenges coming from contemporary science.

Science as a Challenge and Resource for Theological Ethics – One-day, elective course outlining the various ways in which contemporary science has both helped and complicated the practice of theological ethics. This course addresses both the broad methodological question of how we should approach ethics in light of science, and some specific ethical issues for which a scientific perspective can be both a challenge and a resource.

The Evolution of Human Morality – One-day, elective course devoted to the specific topic of human morality, as understood by the evolutionary sciences. In particular, this course explores whether and how an evolutionary perspective challenges traditional, Christian understandings of the source and content of moral norms and the origins of human moral awareness and responsibility.

A Brief History of Science and the Church – One-day, elective course examining the dynamic interactions between science and Christianity in Europe and the U.S. since the seventeenth century, focusing on several key episodes, including Galileo’s relationship to the Catholic church, Enlightenment anti-clericalism, Anglican natural theology, nineteenth-century scientific naturalism, Darwinian evolution, and contemporary Creationism.

Christian Education in a Scientific Age – One-day elective course focused on the ways in which the contemporary sciences can change the way we understand and practice Christian education in churches and other ministry contexts. In particular, this course explores the practical challenges of addressing questions about science and religion commonly asked in these educational contexts.

The Problem of Suffering in Science and Theology – One day, elective course focused on the theological challenges posed by the reality of natural suffering. Particular attention will be paid to the dynamics of evolution by natural selection, where predation, extinction, and death are apparently normal and necessary components for speciation and the historical development of complex life forms, including the human species.

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