As scientific developments continue to flourish in the 21st century, are pastors and their congregants fortified in speaking into the ethical discussions they bring about?
On Friday, March 18-19, Regent University’s School of Divinity (DIV) explored these topics at the annual Renewal Theology conference: the Holy Spirit, Science and Theological Education; an endeavor made possible by Regent’s Center for Renewal Studies and a grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Dr. Mark Cartledge, associate DIV professor and director for the Center for Renewal Studies, said Regent hopes to address science and faith dialogue in seminary training in the United States and across the globe.
“Evangelical Christians have much to learn about science but also to contribute to the evaluation of its finding in the context of a Christian university,” said Cartledge. “This is especially the case when we are training leaders for different spheres of influence in society.”
Dr. Darrel Falk, professor emeritus of Biology at Point Loma Nazarene University, said that he was one of very few Christians in his field. With a lack of mentors who shared both his academic and religious passions, his faith began to waver.
He got through the bigger questions by simply not thinking about scholastic elements – such as the Theory of Evolution – that seemed at odds with his religious upbringing. He struggled with self-imposed pressure to make the polls of his qualitative mind and church-life meet, and eventually, lost his faith all together.
“And it’s against all odds that I’m standing here before you today,” said Falk.
He returned to Christianity, at first as an “experiment,” and later genuinely; this was due, in part, by the ability he had in his current church family to be himself. Questions and all.
Falk spoke of “ominous changes” on the horizon of the future, where advances in science might create ethical dilemmas in society that the Church should speak into. The Church’s voice will be absent, however, if communities fail to address issues in science, education and the Christian faith.
“We need to be able to speak to these issues from the inside,” said Falk. “Where people feel loved, respected and fully at home.”
In addition to Falk’s testimony, the event featured plenary sessions on topics such as Pastoral Care and Science, Science and Mental Health, the Holy Spirit, Science and Health, and Pentecostalism and the Environment.
The conference also featured a panel discussion titled: How Do You Integrate Faith and Science in Your Respective Discipline? It featured Dr. Jenny Sue Flannagan, associate professor of Regent’s School of Education; Dr. Lisa McCoy, Physician of Public Health & Preventative Medicine in Norfolk, Virginia; Dr. Lytton Musselman, professor of Botany at Old Dominion University; and Robert S. Stewart Jr., professor and department chair of Regent’s College of Arts & Sciences.
These professors and professionals added to an important conversation that Cartledge hopes Regent will continue to be at the forefront.
Learn more about Regent University’s School of Divinity.