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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Theology of Community and Ministry

Course Description

This course 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

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 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 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

The Church’s Worship

Course Rationale

Liturgy is the most vivid, palpable, and central means by which God speaks the Gospel to the gathered Body of Christ. In this fundamental act of divine self-revelation, God encounters and shapes us by the preached and sacramental Word, In this fundamental act of the Christian community, we offer our prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, and commit ourselves to being Christ’s body in the world. The focus of the course is therefore on history, theology, and pastoral care as they come together in preparing for and leading corporate worship. A course of this nature cannot cover all the bases implied in the title, nor all the situations which will arise in a student’s ministry, but will be concerned to develop the ability to prepare and lead worship and the capacity to make the mature judgments necessary to meet a varied future.

  • Course Categories: General Theology
  • Science Topics: Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind
  • Seminaries: Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg
  • Syllabus: The Church's Worship
  • Tags:
    neuroscience, pastoral theology, pastoral care, liturgy, counseling, brain and mind, general theology, church worship

Science in Christian Life: Conflict, Cooperation, Integration

Course Description

This course employs the activities of the Spring Academy Week to enable students to explore key issues in science for the practice of ministry. Among the happenings of that week on which students may choose to focus are: lectures and workshops on “Faith, Science and Action” through the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania; a retreat sponsored by TEY for high school students on science and Christian Life; Preaching Perspectives on “Preaching & Science in a Time of Creation-Crisis;” many exciting guest lecturers; many interesting workshops relevant to congregational leadership and science; and interesting movies/some food. A great way to focus on the activities of SAW, receive course credit and learn much for ministry. 1.5 credits.

  • Course Categories: Pastoral Theology
  • Science Topics: History & Philosophy of Science, Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind, Physics and Cosmos
  • Seminaries: Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg
  • Syllabus: Science in Christian Life: Conflict, Cooperation, Integration
  • Tags:
    evolution, neuroscience, pastoral theology, Intelligent Design, Doctrine of Creation, mainline protestant, science in christian life

Self, Sacred, and the Secular

Course Description

Despite the oft-voiced conceit that religious traditions are largely immutable, it is now abundantly clear that religious believers today do not access and live out those traditions as did their forebears of even a generation or two earlier. At the same time, despite the continuing popularity of unduly confident versions of the so-called “secularization thesis,” it is also clear that modern societies remain overwhelmingly (albeit differently) religious. The purpose of this course is assist students in analytically surmounting such “either/or” conceptualizations and thus arrive at a more nuanced understanding of how the sacred and secular are inextricably entwined within everyday life, especially in terms of the ongoing project of identity construction.

  • Course Categories: General Theology
  • Science Topics: History & Philosophy of Science
  • Seminaries: Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University
  • Syllabus: Self, Sacred, and the Secular
  • Tags:
    human identity, psychology, sociology of religion, catholic, orthodox, self sacred and the secular, history and philosophy of science

Religion and Cultural Analysis

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the much-discussed (but less often understood) concept of culture and its implications for the study of contemporary religion. After attending to more theoretical concerns, we will investigate the manner in which a nuanced construal of culture is essential for better understanding such things as secularization, ideological subcultures, religious change, and the salience of religiosity in forging ethnic and racial identities. By attending to these (and other) topics, students should acquire the theoretical and methodological tools necessary for becoming more sophisticated observers of religion as it is actually lived out in the United States and elsewhere.

  • Course Categories: General Theology
  • Science Topics: History & Philosophy of Science, Life Sciences
  • Seminaries: Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University
  • Syllabus: Religion and Cultural Analysis
  • Tags:
    theology, pastoral theology, sociology of religion, science and religion, catholic, orthodox, history and philosophy of science

Philosophy of Religion

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the discipline and method of philosophy and the relationship of philosophy to the study of religion. Through a reading of classical and contemporary sources, the course examines definitions of religion and issues such as God’s existence, attributes, and relationship to and action in the physical world, the nature and significance of religious experience and its potential as a medium for truth and knowledge, the problem of evil, humans as persons having minds and souls, life after death, the relation of religion to morality, and the relationship of religion to science.

  • Course Categories: General Theology
  • Science Topics: History & Philosophy of Science, Life Sciences, Neuroscience, Brain, & Mind, Physics and Cosmos
  • Seminaries: Howard University School of Divinity
  • Syllabus: Philosophy of Religion
  • Tags:
    neuroscience, cosmology, Doctrine of Creation, Philosophy of Religion, genetic editing, epistemology, mainline protestant, history and philosophy of science


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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.