An Invitation to Write about Science & Religion
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.
Karl Giberson directs the new science & religion writing program at Gordon College in Boston. He has published more than 100 articles, reviews and essays for Web sites and journals including Salon.com, Books & Culture, and the Huffington Post. He has written seven books, including Saving Darwin, The Language of Science & Faith, and The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age.