Science for Seminaries Resources

Curricular resources from the Science for Seminaries project have been developed by partner institutions and a series of educational science videos has been produced by AAAS for classroom use. Project resources are searchable by topic, resource type, ecclesial family, seminary, and core curriculum area. Use the filtering tool at right to explore the archive. For more information about curricular resources, please contact the school(s) that produced those resources.

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God and the Cosmos

Course Description

When did it all begin? How vast is it? Why is it expanding? Will it ever end? What is our place in it? These big questions about the nature of the cosmos have been around as far as the history of human beings goes, and both science and religion have been proposing cosmological theories about them. In this course, taught by Kevin Jung at Wake Forest School of Divinity, students will explore scientific facts and theories about the cosmos, while thinking about their implications for theology.

  • Course Categories: General Theology
  • Science Topics: Physics and Cosmos
  • Seminaries: Wake Forest University School of Divinity
  • Syllabus: God and the Cosmos
  • Tags:
    theology, cosmology, cosmogony, cosmos, astronomy, field trips, science and religion, mainline protestant, physics and cosmos

Philosophy of Human Nature

Course Description

The nature of the human person is a hotly debated subject among scientists, philosophers, and theologians. As science and technology advance, they seem to raise more questions than they answer about the nature of the human person. This course, taught by Kevin Jung at Wake Forest School of Divinity, probes the question of what the human person essentially is, engaging with a number of scientific, philosophical, and theological perspectives. What is a human person? Is the human person merely a biological organism? Is life after death possible? What is the nature of personal identity? What is the relationship between mind and body? How is consciousness possible? We will carefully consider a number of different views on these questions.

  • Course Categories: General Theology
  • Science Topics: History & Philosophy of Science, Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind
  • Seminaries: Wake Forest University School of Divinity
  • Syllabus: Philosophy of Human Nature
  • Tags:
    evolution, human nature, neuroscience, philosophy, transhumanism, mainline protestant, consciousness, personal identity

Christian History

Through this introductory course, taught by Bill J. Leonard at Wake Forest School of Divinity, students will:

  1. Become familiar with the basic developments in Christian history from the 17th century to the beginning of the 21st century. This includes an examination of Post Reformation Protestantism, Roman Catholicism from the Council of Trent through Vatican Council II, and representative expressions of Christianity in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the United States.
  2. Explore the impact of modernity/postmodernity on Christian beliefs and institutions as shaped by questions of faith and reason, nature and grace, ecclesiastical authority and denominational development, science and the Enlightenment, religious freedom and religious experience, and fundamentalism/liberalism.
  3. Encounter specific information and insights as offered by various “voices” in the modern world, including Sor Juana de la Cruz, Mexican poet and proto-feminist; Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement; and Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist preacher and Civil Rights leader.
  4. Through lecture, class discussion, and personal research become better analysts of the church’s contemporary context in light of the legacies of its past.
  • Course Categories: Church History
  • Science Topics: History & Philosophy of Science, Physics and Cosmos
  • Seminaries: Wake Forest University School of Divinity
  • Syllabus: Christian History
  • Tags:
    Church History, Christian History, Theological debates, physics

Myth and Scripture: Genesis 1–11

Course Description

This seminar, taught by Neal Walls at Wake Forest School of Divinity, explores ancient Near Eastern myths of creation; Genesis 1–11 as an ancient Israelite text; Genesis 1–11 in the history of interpretation as scripture; and Genesis 1–11 in relation to contemporary evolutionary biology, geology, creationism, and theology.

  • Course Categories: Biblical Studies, General Theology
  • Science Topics: Physics and Cosmos
  • Seminaries: Wake Forest University School of Divinity
  • Syllabus: Myth and Scripture: Genesis 1–11
  • Tags:
    evolution, creationism, Darwinism, cosmogony, Genesis, animal ethics, science and religion, mainline protestant, biblical studies, myth and scripture

Neuroethics

Course Description

This course, taught by Kevin Jung at Wake Forest School of Divinity, introduces students to central philosophical and ethical issues in neuroethics. In this course we explore two main areas of neuroethics: the neuroscience of ethics and the ethics of neuroscience. The neuroscience of ethics re-examines traditional philosophical ideas and issues through the lens of cognitive science, seeking to ground ethics on empirical science. The ethics of neuroscience investigates the ethical implications of the application of neuroscience and neurotechnology in medicine, law, and religion.

  • Course Categories: Ethics
  • Science Topics: Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind
  • Seminaries: Wake Forest University School of Divinity
  • Syllabus: Neuroethics
  • Tags:
    neuroscience, philosophy, transhumanism, ethics, morality, brain and mind, mainline protestant, neuroethics, neurotechnology

Theology of Community and Ministry

Course Description

This course, taught by Tom Schiave at Multnomah Biblical Seminary, introduces students to ministry as community practice. Moving beyond the rampant individualism in our society, the aim will be to explicate and illustrate how faithful ministry is grounded and nurtured in the life of the triune God and centered in the church. Consideration will also be given to such themes as worship, order, service, sacraments, and mission.

  • Course Categories: Pastoral Theology
  • Science Topics: History & Philosophy of Science
  • Seminaries: Multnomah Biblical Seminary
  • Syllabus: Theology of Community and Ministry
  • Tags:
    theology, ecclesiology, Church formation

Patristic and Medieval Theology

Course Description

This course, taught by John Robertson at Multnomah Biblical Seminary, covers the historical development of the formulation of the major tenets of Christian theology with special attention to councils, disputes over orthodoxy and significant theologians from the close of the New Testament period to the beginning of the Reformation.

  • Course Categories: Church History
  • Science Topics: History & Philosophy of Science
  • Seminaries: Multnomah Biblical Seminary
  • Syllabus: Patristic and Medieval Theology
  • Tags:
    history of science, philosophy, Church History, patristic theology, medieval theology, evangelical, conservative protestant, reformation, orthodoxy

Contemporary Theology and Ethics

Course Description

This course, taught by Paul Louis Metzger at Multnomah Biblical Seminary, considers major theological movements of the twentieth century and current directions. Contemporary ethical systems and issues are explored. Students articulate their own ethical system.

  • Course Categories: Ethics, General Theology
  • Science Topics: Earth Science & Environment, History & Philosophy of Science, Life Sciences, Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind, Physics and Cosmos
  • Seminaries: Multnomah Biblical Seminary
  • Syllabus: Contemporary Theology and Ethics
  • Tags:
    history of science, Christian Ethics, neuroscience, philosophy, ethics, theological ethics, evangelical, conservative protestant, ethical systems

Christian Theology & World Religions

Course Description

The course, taught by Paul Louis Metzger at Multnomah Biblical Seminary, serves as an introduction to and examination of prominent religions of the world and alternative spiritual paths, and how each relate to different topics and contexts within the scientific age. Consideration will also be given to the theme of religious pluralism in our post-Christendom global context. The course reflects upon various worldviews against the backdrop of foundational relational motifs and values, and considers the significance of hospitality and neighborliness for effective ministry in our contemporary society.

  • Course Categories: General Theology
  • Science Topics: History & Philosophy of Science
  • Seminaries: Multnomah Biblical Seminary
  • Syllabus: Christian Theology & World Religions
  • Tags:
    history of science, philosophy, Pluralism, Christian theology, hospitality, evangelical, conservative protestant, christian theology and world religions

Chance, Necessity, Love: A Pastoral Theology of Cancer

Course Rationale

The science on cancer is as clear and certain as it gets: this disease is one of evolutionary development. That is, cancers progress according to evolutionary principles when cells—“the very fiber of our being” in the language of a Novena to Saint Peregrine—go their own way and, thereby threaten the rest of that “fiber.” While religious perspectives, questions, and arguments abound in church and society regarding evolution in general, remarkably few struggle to make meaning of the evolutionary nature of cancer. Even rarer—and arguably more urgent—is practical theological inquiry into faithful understandings and wise practices by pastoral leaders and pastoral theologians in response to cancer as an evolutionary phenomenon.

Cancer is a disease replete with paradox. On the one hand, it touches the lives of both the more powerful and the less powerful. On the other hand, differences in cancer vulnerability do occur through occasionally inherited predisposition to the disease and through the ways that poverty and social injustice generally affect its incidence and outcome. Cancer also is a disease that may or may not be treated successfully depending on the stage of its detection and on the treatment and aggressiveness of the disease. Still, the occurrence of cancers in particular persons may be prevented through individual and social efforts, and new treatments for care and cure have been and continue to be developed. Therefore, the following assertion is puzzling but it is also quite true: cancer is something that both cannot and can be changed.

The underlying reason for this paradox is located in the nature of the disease itself: cancer evolves through the complex interplay of chance occurrences and law-like regularities that sometimes may be altered and other times not. Furthermore, just as DNA mutations and natural selection for those mutations are involved in the evolution of various species, so also mutational mechanisms and forces of selection are at work in the evolution of individual cancers. This may be said another way, with a more ironic emphasis: while physical operations of chance and necessity promote the evolution of life, so those very same forces drive the development of a disease that may destroy life.

Cancer is a disease whose origin and progression often vex and confuse cancer patients and those who care for them. Those diagnosed with the disease often struggle to understand its possible causes and future course. Family members wonder what they must accept and may hope for. Pastors hear much about cancer: newly suspected causes, new possible cures and new dangers in treatment—and then worry about and hope for their people. The evolutionary chance and necessity at work in the onset and development of cancer perplex people about what can be changed and what cannot be changed about this disease.

In our considering best pastoral practices in response to cancer, our guiding questions will be these: (1) How may God be preached, taught, and, in pastoral care, understood if the development of life and the development of cancers are linked by evolution? (2) What does pastoral wisdom look like if cancers are something that, as evolutionary phenomena, sometimes can be changed and, at other times, cannot be? (3) What are faithful and wise pastoral responses to social and economic issues generated by and in response to the evolution of cancers? The provisional answers put forth by our community of inquiry will initiate the development of a pastoral theology of cancer and evolution.

  • Course Categories: Pastoral Theology
  • Science Topics: Life Sciences
  • Seminaries: Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg
  • Syllabus: Chance, Necessity, Love: A Pastoral Theology of Cancer
  • Tags:
    evolution, pastoral theology, pastoral care, cancer, counseling, cell biology, mainline protestant, pastoral theology of cancer


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In furtherance of the AAAS mission of advancing science in service to society, AAAS|DoSER’s role in the Science for Seminaries project is to support efforts to integrate science into seminary education. AAAS|DoSER does not advise on or endorse the theological content of the participating seminaries.