The DMin program has completed the first cohort of the Science and Theology Focus. It was a time of learning, testing a model of the degree in a new way, and I am grateful for the pastors who participated. Not everyone was happy with everything—which is part of the whole issue of the disciplines of science and of religion. It would perhaps be a sign for me of lesser success if everyone was completely happy with every conversation and topic. My goal has been to neither have science “lite” nor theology “lite”.
I was recently asked by an administrator of higher education what I considered the ideal professor to teach in this focus. I am looking for those who are aware enough of their views that either they admit to not being a scientist if they are not trained as one, or not a theologian if they have not studied the field with some intentionality. Too much of the time I believe the issue is that scientists who are persons of faith confuse their faith experience with the knowledge of theology and the trajectory of the relationship between science and faith; while theologians who work in the area of science may not have the depth necessary to make some of the claims they do.
It is hard work to pull this off-to be patient enough to study at a level that offers for pastors an opportunity for addressing hard questions, and not too easy of answers. To change the tone a bit, I want to highlight the strengths: we have had professors-at least five who have made a bridge between these two disciplines; there is great texts out there as well written by both theologians and scientists to study and read; the pastors who came learned to dialogue together, to take into account varying backgrounds and points-of-view. One thing we will do is add a history of science seminar.
We are beginning to look to the second cohort beginning in 2013. I want to interview potential pastoral candidates. Among our faculty are two outstanding professors: Dr. Ronald Cole-Turner and Dr. Deirdre Hainsworth. In addition we draw from a Pittsburgh MDiv graduate, Dr. Michael Spezio, who is a neuroscientist doing major research in the arena of spiritual formation, faith and science.
The future is filled with opportunity for pastoral ministry. I believe that with my whole heart. Consider this focus as an opportunity to engage in a future folding into the present! Check out the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Science and Theology Focus.
Director, Doctor of Ministry Program