The "Science for Seminaries Grant" (2014-2016)
The Regent University School of Divinity's Center for Renewal Studies is one of only ten organizations to receive a prestigious "Science for Seminaries" grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) through their Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion Program (DoSER). In collaboration with the John Templeton Foundation, the AAAS grant focused on how to create bridges of dialogue between faith and science.
The "Science for Seminaries" grant initiative developed in response to a 2013 joint survey conducted by AAAS and Rice University, which found that evangelical Christians are far more likely to consult a religious leader or fellow church member on questions concerning science and faith than the general public. Pastoral leaders, however, may receive little exposure to topics of science in their seminary training.
Regent University School of Divinity was one of only ten U.S. seminaries receiving such an award.
Project Leader: Dr. Diane J. Chandler
Science Advisors: Dr. Lytton Musselman, Old Dominion University; Dr. Robert Stewart, Regent University
Science Mentors: Dr. Temper Longman, Westmont College; Dr. Stephen Parker, Regent University
Science Grant Initiator: Dr. Wolfgang Vondey (former School of Divinity faculty member)
• Curriculum Revision
Curriculum revision in these courses to integrate interactive contributions from biblical and theological disciplines and contemporary sciences: Christian Formation, Biblical Studies, Theology, and Church History.
• All-Campus Workshop held on October 28, 2015
This workshop included two scholars for a presentation and converstaion on the integration of faith and science, focusing on the Christian curriculum and the classroom.
Dr. Ronald L. Numbers (Hilldale Professor of the History of Science & Medicine Emeritus from the Univeristy of Wisconsin – Madison) spoke on "Revisiting the Battle-Fields of Science and Religion."
Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger (Professor of Religion, Hope College) addressed "Christian Faith and Natural Science: Opportunities for Integration."
• Master's Divinity Student Essay Contest on topics relating to faith and science.
Master's level divinity students were invited to participate in a School of Divinity Essay Contest on the topic "Christian Faith and Contempolrary Science: Problems and Possibilities of Renewal." Essays were invited that broached any number of specific topics, including the history of science and religion, methodology in science and theology, exegetical considerations regarding faith and science, Christian education, pastoral ministry, and Christian formation. The first and second place essay contest winners were invited to present their papers at the March 18-19, 2016 conference with the theme: The Holy Spirit, Science, and Theological Education.
- 1st Place - Daniel Rakes. "Pentecostalism and the Environmental Crisis: Is a Theological Climate Change Necessary?"
- 2nd Place - Andrew Williams. "Cosmic Fire: Pentecostal Ecothology in Conversation with Clark Pinnock's Pneumatology."
- 3rd Place - Andrew Thrasher.
• Faculty Resource Guides
Faculty Resource Guides were prepared by the four faculty members serving on the science grant team to further the faith and science dialogue.
Diane J. Chandler, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Christian Formation, Discipleship, & Christian Leadership
Kevin Spawn, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Old Testament
Mark J. Cartledge, Ph.D., FRSA
Professor of Practical Theology
Kimberly Ervin Alexander, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of the History of Christianity
• The Holy Spirit, Science, and Theological Education Conference - March 18-19, 2016. (Linked Videotaped Plenary Sessions Are Available on this Conference Page).
The culmination of the grant project is the hosting of a two-day international conference open to all audiences on the integration of faith and science, with four renowned plenary speakers and concurrent parallel sessions on key topics of faith and science. Learn more. >
Dr. Darrel Falk, Professor Emeritus of Biology, Point Loma Nazarene University; and author of the book, Coming to Peace with God: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology (InterVarsity Press).
View Dr. Falk's Plenary Session »
Dr. Harold G. Koenig, Director, Duke University Center for Spiritual, Theology, and Heath; Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Associate Professor of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center.
View Dr. Koenig's Plenary Session »
Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, Senior Astrophysicist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Senior Project Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope; Director, Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) through the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Dr. Henry F. Schaefer, III, Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry and Director, Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry, University of Georgia.
View Dr. Schaefer's Plenary Session »
- Why is the Science for Seminaries project an important opportunity for the School of Divinity?
The School of Divinity began a long-term project in 2010 with a focus on determining the shape, challenges, and ambitions of the Christian minister in the 21st century. The resulting report allowed the School to restructure its entire master's programs curriculum to better serve the needs and demands of Christian ministry today. The Science for Seminaries project adds to this constructive re-visioning of our seminary education by allowing faculty trained in theological disciplines to engage in and interact with the sciences on various levels. With this unusual opportunity, Regent University is able to continue offering highly relevant and competitive degrees that provide our students with meaningful learning experiences and skills to engage the scientific questions of our time from a perspective grounded in Scripture and true to the Christian faith.
- What makes this opportunity so important at this particular time?
The Barna Group, an Evangelical research organization, found that a significant number of young people are leaving the church because they feel they have to choose between God and science. In contemporary culture, it is often perceived that the Bible and science are at odds. The Science for Seminaries grant gives School of Divinity professors the time and resources to engage with experts in the scientific community to help bridge this gap and train Christian leaders to change the world. This project will pioneer the direction for the future of Christian seminary education at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
- What are the structures through which the Science for Seminaries grant will be implemented?
The conversation on integrating faith and science is carried out primarily in four core (context) courses of the master's programs at the School of Divinity. These courses include spiritual formation, biblical studies, church history, and Christian theology. Four faculty who serve as representatives of their discipline work on integrating the sciences in their courses, assess the revisions, and make recommendations to the School of Divinity for further conversation and possible integration.
- Does AAAS dictate particular theological positions or scientific convictions?
The AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion does not advise on theological content, but only provides support for science through resources and mentor recommendations. The goal of the project is not to recommend particular positions for students but rather to foster scientifically informed theological education that allows students to arrive at positions through critical thinking informed by science and true to the teachings of Christian scripture and history.
- How will Regent faculty address issues of scientific content that challenge long held convictions of the Christian community?
As is our consistent practice, the School of Divinity will address these challenges in the spirit of honest inquiry as a Christ-centered institution, committed to an Evangelical interpretation and application of the faith and closely identified with the present-day renewal movements, which emphasize the gifts, fruit, and ministries of the Holy Spirit. We operate within the context of our Regent University Statement of Faith that affirms that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, and authoritative source of Christian doctrine and precept. Our mission is to provide theological education that seeks to be faithful to Scripture and emphasizes the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in order to form men and women who will bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ in the church, the academy, and the world.
- Can anyone participate in the project?
The Science for Seminaries project is conducted under contractual agreements between Regent University and AAAS. Faculty participating in the project are employed by Regent University. The project grant does not include additional outside participation in the administration of the grant project. The project concentrates on students enrolled in the School of Divinity's master's programs. Students were invited to participate in the project's activities through a workshop, student essay contest, and conference.
- What are the long-term expectations of the project?
The Science for Seminaries grant is a pilot project that is expected to lead to further and more sustained efforts to initiate conversations on Christian faith and science in seminary education. The grant supports the School of Divinity over the academic years 2014 - 2016. It is expected that the insights gained from the project will lead to more expanded revisions of syllabi, curricula, and lectures in the future in order to ascertain that all our students benefit from the conversations between science and the Christian faith.