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Laying the foundations for science-engaged theology

 Helen Billam
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Climate breakdown, gene editing, neural implants, artificial intelligence. These all pose huge ethical questions for humanity today: questions about our survival as a species, how we define humanity, and how far we’re willing to compromise security for convenience. The answers won’t be found by scientists alone.

Good science needs good theology, and good theology needs to turn towards these questions, wrestle with them, and take the time to understand their impact on our lives today and in the future. It’s a daunting thought for people whose scientific education stopped at 16, or those who started their careers before the dawn of the Internet age. Science-engaged theology can help.

At ECLAS, we want to equip Christian leadership to explore with confidence the issues and opportunities raised by cutting-edge science. And just as these big issues will determine life for future generations, so we want to equip the next wave of Christian leaders, those who are just starting out on their journey of ordination.

That’s where our Science for Seminaries programme comes in. Echoing the highly successful version run by AAAS DoSER in North America, we will award grants of £60,000 each to 10 theological colleges in the UK to incorporate science into their core curriculum. We will work with course leaders, lending our expertise and matching them with renowned scientists, to help develop truly inspiring and engaging teaching materials. We will help colleges to share their resources with others and with the local community through events and collaborations. All this will help Christian leaders and Christian communities to feel confident tackling today’s challenges, engaging with science and scientists to drive culture change within the wider church and world.

It’s an ambitious vision but we are confident that engaging science in formation will encourage and empower the next generation of leaders. The ethical questions raised by scientific advancement will not go away. Society needs the contribution of people of faith. Our hope is that through these grants, ministers can aid public discourse and reaffirm an underlying truth, that science is a gift from God that can enrich our life and faith.

To find out more about ECLAS’ Science for Seminaries awards and apply, visit eclasproject.org.

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