Pastors and theologians tend not to have much formal training in science. Scientists tend not to receive much formal education in theology. Yet the two disciplines are often asked cross-disciplinary questions like: How do our understandings of the creation of the universe jive between science and Christian theology? How do scientific theories such as quantum mechanics point toward or away from God’s creative hand? How should Christians take care of the world’s environment? Are our brains programmed to seek and worship God? How should Christians view new technologies like in vitro fertilization or stem cell research?
In an effort to help pastors and laypeople think through such questions, Concordia Seminary is pleased to announce its 20th Annual Theological Symposium to be held Sept. 22-23 under the title “Science and Theology: New Questions, New Conversations.” While the Symposium will keep its relevance as a time for theological discussion among pastors, this year’s Symposium will also feature opportunities for high school and college science instructors, as well as other laypeople, to talk about the interplay between science and theology.
The primary plenary speakers will all be scientists from diverse backgrounds. Dr. Daniel Botkin, professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been called “one of the preeminent ecologists of the 20th century,” noted for the advancement of computer simulations and satellite remote sensing in the study of forests. He has written numerous articles, software programs and books, including No Man’s Garden: Thoreau and a New Vision for Civilization and Nature. Dr. Mario Beauregard is a professor of neurobiology at the University of Montreal, most noted for his research and book The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul. Dr. Benjamin Schumacher is a physics professor at Kenyon College in Ohio and author of a textbook on relativity titled Physics in Spacetime. Schumacher is credited with inventing the term “qubit,” the unit of measurement in quantum information theory. Each scientist’s plenary will be followed by a response from one of Concordia Seminary’s faculty exploring the theological implications of the presentations.
Other sectional speakers include Dr. Del Ratzsch, professor of philosophy and science at Calvin College and author of the book The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side Is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate; Dr. Angus Menuge, professor of philosophy and science at Concordia University Wisconsin; and Dr. Robert Weise, Concordia Seminary professor and The Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis Chair in Pastoral Ministry and the Life Sciences. Other sectionals on a wide variety of science-theology topics are also being planned.
Those interested in these issues are also encouraged to take part in the Seminary’s Alumni Read, which this year is renowned scientist and theologian John Polkinghorne’s book, Science and Theology: An Introduction.
Following the Symposium, Dr. Victor Raj, mission professor of exegetical theology and assistant director of the Institute for Mission Studies, will present the 2009 Witness Workshop. The Sept. 24-25 workshop will explore “Hybrid Spirituality.” This workshop in four sessions will address the challenge Christians face in their everyday lives and witness as they live and work among people who are looking for the best from everywhere to quench their spiritual thirst. Major issues will be identified and Christian responses will be presented within the Scriptural framework.
Parish pastors, district and synodical officials, Seminary and Concordia University students and faculty and interested laypersons are encouraged to attend. One CEU is available for attending the Symposium.
Registration fees are as follows: $130 by Sept. 8 (includes Tuesday evening buffet); $140 after Sept. 8. Day registration: $70 by Sept. 8; $80 after Sept. 8. Session Registration: $35 by Sept. 8; $40 after Sept. 8. Witness Workshop: $35.