In this issue
ELCA Alliance developing confirmation materials
Goshen focuses on biology for 2012 conference
New book examines Eastern Orthodoxy and science
Indian religion and science explored in new book
Rice study shows few scientists see conflict with religion
The ELCA Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology is in the process of developing a three-session confirmation module dealing with creation and science. It helps students explore how scientific theories and biblical creation stories go together as we consider the world. Congregations currently are being sought to field test the module.
Rev. Dr. George Murphy, a retired ELCA pastor and physicist is spearheading the project. He is an adjunct faculty member at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus Ohio who teaches courses in theology and science.
The sessions are titled “Creation Today” (dealing with God’s action in the world today), "Belief and Brains" (on relationships between faith and science) and "Pictures of the Beginning" (which looks at scientific and biblical views of the earth and life).
While most congregations have already begun confirmation classes this year, the Alliance is hopeful that the module might still be tested in the Spring or next fall. Pastors or congregations interesting in trying out the modules should contact Murphy directly at email@example.com.
The Goshen College Conference on Religion and Science 2012 will feature Celia Deane-Drummond. It is being held March 23–25, 2012, at in Goshen, Indiana. Registration for the conference will begin in January at www.goshen.edu/religionscience.
Dr. Deane-Drummond has recently become a professor of theology at neighboring University of Notre Dame, but is a well known academic in the religion and science dialogue. (She taught previously in the U.K.)
She has a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University and a doctorate in plant physiology at Reading and Letcombe Research Station at Oxford University. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Vancover, Canada and the biophysics group at Cambridge and has served as a lecturer at Durham University. She later began to focus on theology, graduating with a Ph.D. in theology at Manchester University.
She has served as chair in Theology and the Biological Sciences at Chester College, Deane-Drummond is well published with more than thirty articles appearing in science journals during here scientific career and has continued to be active in research, particularly in relation science to theology. Her books include A Handbook in Theology and Ecology (1996) and Creation through Wisdom: Theology and the New Biology (2000).
At last year’s Goshen Conference, the links between evolution and Christianity were discussed by Owen Gingerich at the Eleventh annual conference. In a series of three lectures, Gingerich unpacked the issues that much of Christianity has had over the years with Darwin’s theory of evolution. Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and History of Science at Harvard University, Gingerich’s latest work will be featured as a chapter in the anthology, The Missing Link: A Symposium on Darwin’s Creation-Evolution Solution. It was edited by Roy Verghese.
Science and the Eastern Orthodox Church is a new book that combines the supporters of religion and science and its critics all in one place. The book was the result of a John Templeton Foundation grant that supported research at the University of South Carolina.
The book results from a Templeton grant to a small group of scholars to pursue the relationship between science and Orthodox religion in North America. The group was established to create a North American network of academics and clergy with an interest in approaching science and religion from an Orthodox Christian perspective.
The group is lead by Dr. Gayle Woloschak a member of the Ukrainian Eastern Orthodox Church and molecular biologist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Woloschak has also served several roles at the Zygon Center for Religion and Science in Chicago. Other leaders include Dennis Poole of the University of South Carolina and Daniel Buxhoeveden. Buxhoeveden is director of religion and science at the University of South Carolina and has written on neuroscience and evolution.
Science and the Eastern Orthodox Church was published by Ashgate Publishing. Woloschak and Buxhoeveden served as co-editors. The book examines:
- the nature of science;
- why Eastern Orthodox Christians should be concerned with the topic;
- discussion of well-known 20th century figures that are considered holy elders or saints in the Orthodox Church and their relationship and thoughts on science;
- an analysis of historical contingencies that contribute to the relationship between science and the Orthodox Church;
- Science’s strengths and weaknesses in light of Eastern Orthodox understandings of the experience of God and so-called miraculous are analyzed in depth;
- Other topics include evolution, brain evolution and consciousness, nanotechnology, stem cell research and other areas of science in dialogue with theology.
A new book published by the Metanexus Institute provides a unique introduction to Indian religion and its intersection with science.
Indic Visions in an Age of Science is the tenth book for Varadaraja V. Raman, president of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS). He offers a view of India’s religions through his eyes as a scientist and humanist with contemporary interpretations consistent with insights of modern science. Raman offers a view on fostering peace and understanding amidst dangerous culture wars and clashing civilizations.
In ten chapters he highlights the development of Indian religion, philosophy and science from the distant past to the current day. Raman, emeritus professor of physics and humanities at Rochester Institute of Technology, has authored numerous papers on historical, social, and philosophical aspects of science, as well as on India’s heritage. He has authored nine previous books including Truth and Tension in Science and Religion, which details Raman’s views on how religion and science can fit together without a loss of integrity of one over the other. He is also known for his poetry that he has traditionally contributed at IRAS conferences.
He has written on many aspects of Indian heritage and culture and in 2006 was the recipient of the Raja Rao Award that honors and recognizes writers who have made outstanding contribution to the literature of the South Asian Diaspora.
Raman attended the University of Calcutta before completing graduate work on the foundations of quantum mechanics at the University of Paris under Louis de Broglie. He is a Metanexus Senior Fellow and regular contributor to the organizations’ online journal.
William Grassie, executive director of the Metanexus Institute, said of the new book: “Raman bridges north and south, east and west, science and religion in ways that few people can. He brings to bear deep erudition, multiple fluencies, and great spiritual sensitivities.”
Only 15% of scientists at major research universities see religion and science as always in conflict, according to a Rice University study that was published in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Rice sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund says that many people in understanding reality and origins of Earth and how life developed see irreconcilable conflict in religion and science, but this is challenged since a majority of scientists interviewed by Ecklund and her colleagues viewed religion and science as “valid avenues of knowledge.”
The study’s co-authors were sociologists Jerry Park of Baylor University and Katherine Sorrell, a former post baccalaureate fellow at Rice and current Ph.D. student at the University of Notre Dame. The team interviewed 275 participants, pulled from a survey of 2,198 tenured and tenure-track faculty in the natural and social sciences at 21 elite U.S. research universities.
Of this group, 70% said they believed religion and science are only sometimes in conflict. Half of the original survey population also expressed some form of religious identity. The study concluded that scientists as a whole are substantially different from most in the American public in how they view teaching “intelligent design” in public schools. Nearly all of the scientists have a negative impression of the theory of intelligent design.
Last year, Ecklund’s book Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think was published by Oxford University Press detailing her findings. The study was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and additional funding from Rice University.
Covalence October, 2011