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Sunday, 13 July 2008

Excellent New Science-Faith Curriculum Appropriate for Churches

Douglas Hayworth has flagged an excellent Science-Faith resource for Church groups. The Religion and Science: Pathways to Truth course is offered by the Wesley Ministry Network (WMN) and includes nine DVD-based lessons with submissions from Francis Collins, John Polkinghorne, Darrel Falk, Ted Peters, Alister McGrath and many others. WMN states that the target audience is

For laypersons or clergy groups in churches of all denominations. Course materials will also be an invaluable addition to university classes in science and religion.
This looks very exciting.

Full Program (from the WMN website):
1. Introduction: by Francis S. Collins, Director, The Human Genome Project
2. Friends or Foes? The Story of a Complex Relationship: by David Wilkinson, St. John's College, Durham (England)
3. Truth in Science and Theology: by Philip Clayton, Claremont School of Theology
4. God and Nature: by Keith Ward, Oxford University
5. Creation and Evolution: by Darrel Falk, Point Loma Nazarene University
6. What Does It Mean to Be Human?: by Warren Brown, Fuller Theological Seminary
7. The God of Hope and the End of the World: by John Polkinghorne, Cambridge University
8. Genetic Science and the Frontiers of Ethics: by Ted Peters, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
9. Concluding Bible Study on Creation Care: by Beth Norcross, Denise Dombkowski Hopkins, Bruce Birch, Susan Willhauck & Kendall Soulen, Wesley Theological Seminary

There is also a Bonus DVD that Includes:
1. A Conversation Between Nobel Laureate William Phillips (N.I.S.T.; University of Maryland)and Francis S. Collins
2. The Dawkins Delusion?: by Alister McGrath, Oxford University
3. Reflections on a Life of Faith and Science: by Nobel-Laureate Charles-Townes, Berkeley, University of California
4. Natural Selection and the Economy of Grace: by Amy Laura Hall, Duke University Divinity School


Stephen Douglas said...

Those Wesleyan/Methodist types are not uncommonly at the forefront of interesting movements. Bully for them.

I'm interested in find out the topics of some of these - the titles aren't particularly descriptive. Francis Collins's introduction is a good start.

Since I don't have the money to purchase this series just for myself (and no potential audience to justify the cost at the moment), I doubt I'll see the whole thing any time soon, unfortunately.

Cliff Martin said...

I am also interested in this series; I'd like to read some reviews, or here from someone who has viewed the series before I fork out the $$.

Steve Martin said...

stephen: I was actually thinking of commenting on the wesleyian connection. In fact, of the 10 books listed in the previous post, I believe at least half of them are from authors that come from a Wesleyian tradition; only 2 (that I'm aware of) come from a reformed tradition (Glover & the Haarsma's). Given that the reformed side of the Evangelical community has generally taken a leadership role in many areas, it would be interesting to see if in the science / faith dialogue they are behind. I'd find that puzzling though since the "All truth is God's truth" is such a reformed mantra.

Cliff: Good point. I'm thinking about it (but that probably has to take 4 books out of my book budget!).

Stephen Douglas said...

Alas, but I would not be surprised if the Reformed (as an over-generalized class) are among the last to join us. The sizable and vocal constituents who are preoccupied with defending their traditional doctrines against corruption and heresy will be reluctant indeed to re-examine a doctrine such as the Fall that is so central to their system. This group, which includes the rightly esteemed Sproul, have condemned other modifications of the Reformers' theology as the New Perspective on Paul, despite the internal Scriptural evidence (not to mention the external evidence); if they can hand-wave that away, I can't imagine that this influential group will soon accept EC, a position that requires significant doctrinal adjustments and admissions of scriptural ambiguity. This is to say nothing of the presuppositionalist strains that reject the scientific method and all empirical claims that contradict their biblical interpretation on sola scriptura grounds.

airbornisgood4u said...

This is for mainline churches. "All denominations"? I think most people in evangelical sunday school classes would have a hernia if they heard what collins and mcgrath have to say.

I'm starting to attend a nazarene (wesleyan) church, of where Faulk is from, and it would be interesting to see how the church would respond to videos like these. I think churches like Church of the Nazarene (or other Wesleyan churches, like Free Methodist, which are more of the evangelical ilk than United Meth.) are more open to evolution because there's nothing in their doctrinal statement that gives any specifications about creation and evolution other than Adam was a literal person, but nothing specific about how he was created or anything. and in Holiness Today Magazine, in a Q and A, the editor from the magazine said that it was perfectly fine for a nazarene to believe in evolution. And apparently, Faulk's Nazarene congregation doesn't consider it heresy or anything that Faulk is agnostic whether or not Adam was a literal person or not. Of course, I think other nazarene churches are downright scary in their "separation" doctrines and fundamentalism, so it all depends where you go.

What a lot of Nazarenes aren't aware of either is that nowhere in their doctrinal statement is there an endorsement of factual inerrancy in scripture, instead it just says "inerrantly revealing salvation" or something like that. So Naz churches offer much much more latitude in beliefs than many think. And though I currently endorse what John Walton considers inerrancy, I don't think it would be the end of the world if certain historical errors were in scripture, so I'm glad there's latitude there.

Steve Martin said...

Welcome. Re: Church of the Nazarene doctrine and evolution, I agree with you. Check out a previous article on Richard Colling's challenges at ONU.

Daniel said...

I'm a Nazarene, and you are correct. Our doctrine has no problem with evolution (although, in practice, some individuals probably do have an issue with it.) In fact, the doctrine goes so far as to say we accept as valid all scientifically verifiable findings because we firmly that God is the creator of all things. It's in the Manual section 908.3. We also do not hold a God-dictated model of inspiration of Scripture, rather, as was posted earlier, we view Scripture as inerrant in that which is necessary for salvation.

Sorry for the "plug" for our denomination! :-)

Steve Martin said...

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for that. It is my impression that among Evangelicals that are promoting a positive relationship between evolution and the Christian faith, quite a number are from Church of the Nazarene churches or colleges (eg. Falk, Colling, Giberson), at least more than one would think given that they are a relatively small part of Evangelicalism as a whole. And no apologies required on plugging the denomination - I think it is good for all of us to better understand how different faith communities address the challenges.

airbornisgood4u said...

"I'm a Nazarene, and you are correct. Our doctrine has no problem with evolution (although, in practice, some individuals probably do have an issue with it.)"

Yeah after looking at certain denominations, my beliefs definitely fit in under Nazarenes the best. Though none of my friends cared for the church, but I'm trying to make them go back since they went when the regular pastor wasn't there, and they now have a new worship leader. It's nice going to a church where I don't have to wonder whether or not they'd accept me as a member or something, since I can agree with their doctrine, and I'm allowed to believe in evolution. It's easier to relax and just worship without having to worry whether you'd be looked down upon if anyone knew what you believed.