More than 30 universities, organizations and churches across the United States are housing new faith-and-science oriented activities thanks to a grant project called STEAM, which stands for Science and Theology in Emerging Adult Ministries.
The project is a partnership between Fuller Theological Seminary in California and the John Templeton Foundation. The idea is to catalyze the integration of Christian faith and science among 18-20 year olds, i.e. those considered to be emerging adults, organizers say. This year project teams including scientists and pastors and other volunteers will develop and implement projects they designed engaging science and theology within their communities. The following year, 2018, the project will wind down and resources created from STEAM will be publicly disseminated.
The STEAM project has awarded grants to 31 organizations to date, including: Gustavus Adolphus College, Harvey Mudd College, Samford University, First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, Washington University in St. Louis, Lipscomb University, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, and the Arizona Center for Christian Studies.
ELCA congregation Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and Campus Ministry in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is seeking to engage students through small groups to determine if and why they feel tension between the practice of faith and the study of science. They plan on bringing in outside speakers to address the students’ concerns and to also form a mentorship network between local ministers and university scientists.
Participants at Gustavus Adolphus, an ELCA college in Saint Peter, Minnesota, are working on creating a digital storytelling platform by and for college students who are studying in STEM-related programs that will serve as a vehicle for vocational reflection, narrative theology and discussion about why and how science as a Christian vocation. A team of four science majors, mentored by a chaplain and a science professor, will create content and cultivate conversations both online and on campus with peers.
Dordt College in Iowa recently received a $25,000 grant to create online resources and multi-session learning modules that will be made available to college and post-college ministries to equip Christian young adults in tackling the complex questions at the intersection of faith and science.
Dordt Biology professor Robbin Eppinga will lead a team of college faculty, area pastors and a senior Dordt biology major. The resources will help Christian young adults anatomize questions related to cloning, medical ethics, evolution through natural selection, GMOs, climate change, and many others. However, studies will not be limited to the “hard” sciences, the team adds. Studies will also cover topics in “soft” sciences like psychology and sociology, as well as the scientific aspects of disciplines in the arts or humanities, according to Fuller Seminary website.
“The evidence suggests that as Christians, we’re not always engaging these questions very well—in our churches, in Christian schools, within families,” says Eppinga. “Many young Christians have never had a safe place to wrestle through challenging issues at the interface of faith and science, and these resources are intended to help people create that safe place to ask questions, examine evidence, and explore implications.”