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An Invitation to Write about Science & Religion

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October 1, 2011 Tags: Christianity & Science - Then and Now
An Invitation to Write about Science & Religion

Today's entry was written by Karl Giberson. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of BioLogos. You can read more about what we believe here.

Writing in The Atlantic in 1925, the great Harvard philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead said “When we consider what religion is for mankind, and what science is, it is no exaggeration to say that the future course of history depends upon the decision of this generation as to the relations between them.”

Whitehead goes on to argue in the essay that science and religion, and their relationship, is more complex than most people assume. In particular he chastises those that seem unable to grasp that religion and science are both dynamic and constantly changing systems of thought.

Unfortunately our educational system is structured to provide training in science or religion but not both. The result is a stilted and uninformed cultural conversation with a high level of illiteracy on both sides of the table. The need for improved dialog is critically important but hard to come by.

In partnership with Gordon College I will be offering a special writing workshop this spring as a part of the “Gordon in Boston” program. A small group of aspiring writers from college, universities, and seminaries around the country will join me this spring in Boston for a semester dominated by reading, discussing, and writing about science and religion. The group will live and eat together in a community setting in Boston run by Gordon College that will provide lots of opportunity for us to get to know each other. I will spend the better part of two days per week with the group, have lunch with them, and host them occasionally for dinner in my home in nearby Hingham.

The focus of the writing workshop will be “Science, Religion, and Culture.” I will offer a twice-weekly (4-credit hour) seminar exploring topics on this theme like the controversy over the historical Adam, the Scopes Trial, the Galileo Affair, Intelligent Design, the New Atheist assault on religion, the fine-tuning of the universe, and other aspects of this important cultural conversation. We will read some great writers and talk about what makes them great. And we will read some deeply influential writers and talk about what makes them influential.

Writers working with me will also take an ambitious 4-credit hour writing internship. If desired, they can work with me on my current book project, which is a wide-ranging interdisciplinary look at how Adam has been viewed across the centuries and across the theological spectrum. (Did you know that there is a tradition that says Eve was not Adam’s first wife? Or that he did not have a physical body until after he sinned? And where did Cain get his wife?) I will also be working on some other projects: finishing the editorial process on And God Saw that it was Good: The Creation Story in an Age of Science, for Paraclete Press; promoting The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age, published this fall by Harvard University Press; and promoting The Wonder of the Universe: Hints of God in a Fine-Tuned World, published in the spring by InterVarsity Press. (My website has additional information about these projects.)

If students prefer, I will help them find an internship with another writer or publication in the Boston area. The writing workshop is restricted to no more than eight students so every student working with me will get a lot of my time. I have had extensive experience working on writing projects with students and have even co-authored pieces with student writers. Here is a link to a piece that I published in the journal Perspectives on Science & Faith with a Gordon College student.

Students can also take one or two additional courses: an urban studies course that will open up the inner city of Boston in surprising ways and, if needed, a course at another Boston area school. If, for example, you need a history elective, the second semester of organic chemistry, or something else, you can be sure it will be offered at one of our partner schools--Harvard Extension, The University of Massachusetts at Boston, Boston University Metropolitan College, Emerson College, Northeastern University and others.

Boston is a great place for a project like this. Known as “The Hub” for its rich academic heritage, Boston hosts scores of colleges and universities, and annually over 250,000 college students. Its diverse, academically rich intellectualism stands as one of the premiere settings for engagement at a high level. World class scholars are accessible via a short subway ride.

With one foot in the Christian tradition, the writing workshop encourages students to place the other foot in a non-partisan, secular and intellectually challenging environment. The Writers Workshop identifies qualified students for specialized training in translating key questions and public debates into accessible form through the written word.

Additional information can be found on the Gordon College website. If you have questions about the overall program—costs, lodging, credit transfers, etc. feel free to contact the office at Gordon in charge of the program at geo@gordon.edu.

As soon as you are serious about the program and thinking about a writing project, feel free to contact me at gibersok@gmail.com.

Dr. Karl Giberson is a physicist, scholar, and author specializing in the creation-evolution debate. He has published hundreds of articles, reviews and essays for Web sites and journals including Salon.com, Books & Culture, and the Huffington Post. Dr. Giberson has written or co-written ten books, including Saving Darwin, The Language of Science & Faith, and The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age. He is currently a faculty member at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, where he serves as the Scholar-in-Residence in science and religion.

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Dancing From Genesis - #65136

September 28th 2011

I wonder if young earth creationists, equipped with information from such as http://dancingfromgenesis.com and http://genesisveracityfoundation.com will be welcome there in Beantown at your writers’ meetings?

Since young earth creationism is truly a synthesis of science and religion, should this position not be the headliner? 

beaglelady - #65318

October 1st 2011

You could write about Atlantis, and show some artifacts.

bren - #65319

October 1st 2011

A synthesis of two things does not generally involve needing to extensively modify one in order to force it to fit with the other (anymore than integrating one population with another involves killing most of them first).  Synthesis is simply not the word for it.  Even assimilation doesn’t describe the YEC program.  It is simply a select reading of one at the total expense of the other.  It’s not just the accumulated knowledge of science that gets trashed, it’s the scientific method itself.

If we wish to bring faith and science together, we can’t simply dump one of the two ingredients in the garbage before proceeding with the recipe, the insights of both need to be given their full force, even if it requires painfully shedding preconceptions and pet interpretations.

That said, you’ve clearly been working very hard to advertize your websites (at the expense of meaningful dialogue!).

Norman - #65325

October 1st 2011

Moderators: Haven’t we seen enough of “Dancing” to recognize the attitude of an internet troll by now?


cato42 - #65323

October 1st 2011

Oh, how I wish I could find my way there as a participant in this workshop opportunity.  I pray for this to be as wonderful and fruitful as possible, and a tremendous blessing for all concerned.

Norman - #65324

October 1st 2011

A very worthy undertaking; thanks for your dedication to this endeavor. The difficulty is not the science side but grasping the largeness of the debate on the theological side of the equation. In my opinion we are in the throes of a new theological renaissance that requires years of experience to grasp its nuanced problems. Developing writing skills will have to go together with having a healthy respect for recognizing that it is dangerous at this time to become too set in stone with theology as its being played out today. The renaissance is just now beginning and it will be a mistake to become overly dogmatic as young adults often have a proclivity toward.   Giving these young people a balanced view approach will be challenging.


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