Fuller Theological Seminary is pleased to announce that the Office for Science, Theology, and Religion Initiatives (STAR) will be hosting a three-year, $2 million grant led by Greg Cootsona and Dave Navarra. The grant, which was awarded by the John Templeton Foundation, will begin February 1, 2016, and conclude January 31, 2019. Dr. Cootsona, who is research associate professor of theology in the School of Theology, and Navarra, who is nearing completion of his MDiv, brought the Talk of God, Talk of Science conference to Fuller in 2014 in collaboration with the Ogilvie Institute. Their current research project, known as STEAM (Science and Theology for Emerging Adult Ministries), will be conducted in consultation with Justin Barrett, STAR chief developer and Thrive professor of developmental science, and Rebecca Sok, STAR project coach.
Cootsona and Navarra created STEAM in order to change the way North American emerging adult Christian ministry is done: namely, to foster a greater and more fruitful engagement of ministries with the discoveries and insights of mainstream science. On a smaller scale, STEAM will aim to engage emerging adults (ages 18–30) in the integration of mainstream science with Christian life, practice, and theology through:
· Funding select emerging adult ministries in congregations and parachurch organizations;
· Creating excellent, usable resources;
· Coaching and training ministry leaders in the integration of science and theology; and
· Developing web and social media resources related to these activities.
STEAM was initiated when Cootsona and Navarra identified four main obstacles to the integration of science and faith for emerging adults: (1) the perception (and, at times, belief) that Christianity is in conflict with science and vice versa; (2) the seeming disconnection of science and religion from pressing life issues; (3) the perception that the Bible is outdated and unscientific when it comes to the connection between science and religion; and (4) the dizzying choices 18- to 30-year-olds face, which often make it difficult to decide how to relate faith and science.
Historically, the demographic of emerging adults sets the tone and substance for much of US culture; thus, the engagement of this age group around science and faith is strategic both in the lives of the individuals and in the shaping of culture. “Whether or not science and theology will be integrated or remain estranged in popular consciousness remains unknown,” Cootsona said. “But the answer may lie in the successful engagement with perhaps the most powerful demographic in the world—and our aim is to find it.”
More information can be found on the project’s website, www.thesteamproject.org.