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$1.5 million awarded to seminaries to include science in their curricula

$1.5 million awarded to seminaries to include science in their curricula

The Washington Post reports that the American Association for the Advancement of Science has awarded grants to seminaries across the United States to fund efforts to bridge science and faith.

“Many (religious leaders) don’t get a lot of science in their training and yet they become the authority figures that many people in society look up to for advice for all kinds of things, including issues related to science and technology,” said Jennifer Wiseman, director of the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion.”

None of the ten Episcopal seminaries are receiving grants, but it would interesting to know how future Episcopal clergy are being formed regarding this issue (if at all).


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Kyle Matthew Oliver

At VTS, several professors routinely incorporate lessons from the science and theology conversation. I was encouraged to pursue a thesis in this area, inspired by our time with distinguished visiting scholar Keith Ward. The thesis was advised by Dean Markham and read by Professor Ward. I felt very well supported and resourced in this area of study.

Bob Manning

This sort of formation does happen at at least one of our Episcopal seminaries (which also happens to provide a university-based ecumenical experience as well, for the record). Through its affiliation with Yale Divinity School and Yale University, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale allows (and encourages) its seminarians to take courses in the other graduate and professional schools at Yale. The Divinity School offers joint degree programs with many of the other professional schools, including the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the School of Nursing. It’s also worth noting that Berkeley was instrumental in securing the funding for the new H. Boone and Violet M. Porter Chair in Religion and Environmental Stewardship, which is jointly appointed by the Divinity School and the School of Forestry.

One of the classes I took my senior year of seminary was focused on issues surrounding globalization and was jointly taught by faculty of the Divinity School, Law School, School of Forestry, School of Management, and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. It focused, among other things, on the way that globalization has contributes to climate change.

Even though no Episcopal seminaries received the AAS grant, the sort of formation it encourages is happening at our seminaries. It’s always good to remember that there is an Episcopal seminary affiliated with a major research university (and, at a time when two of our other seminaries are in crisis, it is helpful to remember that Berkeley’s affiliation with Yale also arose out of a time of crisis, when the trustees were advised by the House of Bishops to find a way to quietly shut down the seminary).

Josh Rodriguez

Donald Schell

Thanks to the Templeton Foundation for this contribution to all of us. I was very glad to have had four years of lab science as an undergraduate and a good taste of philosophy of science. In seminary (1968-1971) at Princeton and then at General, so many of us would default to a crude contrast of “scientific certainties” and “scientific knowledge” with the seemingly whimsical or arbitirary choice we made for faith. The lack of real understanding of science and theology as different forms of inquiry and little real appreciation for the tradition of natural theology – putting it unduly simply, the habit of asking how we talk of God with an ear to what we know provisionally about ourselves and the world we inhabit, prepared us to be tongue-tied apologists. In the forty plus years since, we’ve not been well prepared to address the Religious Right and have let them successfully command media attention to brand creation “vs.” evolution, homophobia, denial of global warming and more as “Christian” counters to godless science. If we’ve got ears to listen and an apologetic stance that’s unafraid of learning emerging truth from other fields, there are amazingly important conversations happening for theology and faith in ecology, neuroscience, cosmology, particle physics and more.

I notice what seminaries are included in the Templeton effort to reach broadly and deeply into Christian thinking –

The selected seminaries represent broad denominational, demographic and geographic diversity, including Regent University School of Divinity, which includes Pentecostal/charismatic theology, and Howard University’s School of Divinity, a predominantly African-American seminary in Washington, D.C. Other participating schools include:

Andover Newton Theological School (Newton Centre, Mass.)

Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.)

Columbia Theological Seminary (Decatur, Ga.)

Concordia Seminary (St. Louis)

Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (Pennsylvania)

Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University (Berkeley, Calif.)

Multnomah Biblical Seminary (Portland, Ore.)

Wake Forest University School of Divinity (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

No, we’re not surprised that our Episcopal Seminaries aren’t there. Our crises at EDS and GTS might discourage investment there. But so could the number of excellent Episcopal Seminarians choosing university based ecumenical seminaries.

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