What has Science to do with Youth Ministry?

Saturday, April 13th 2019, 1:00pm
Dinner Board Room, Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, 2400 Ridge Road Berkeley, CA 94709

2019 Russell Research Fellow in Religion and Science, Joshua M. Moritz, will speak on, "What has science to do with youth ministry?: Why theological engagement with the natural sciences is vital for effective and impactful youth ministry." Registration required. Please visit http://ctns.org/jkr_fellow.html for more information and to register.

What has science to do with youth ministry, and the next generation of the Church to do with the Academy? How can an awareness of the findings and theories of evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and physics enrich youth discipleship, teaching, and pastoral counseling? What is at stake if youth leaders ignore science? According to Christian Smith, Director of the Notre Dame Center for Social Research who led the National Study of Youth and Religion, the church’s lack of engagement with science is one of the chief reasons that youth lose their faith as they emerge into adulthood. Other recent national studies have found that the failure of churches to effectively and relevantly engage the natural sciences is one of the top reasons that young adults abandon their Christian faith in college. For example, the Barna Group’s research has shown that many young adults with a Christian background, but who have abandoned their faith in college, have done so because of their experience that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in,” (29%), that “churches come across as antagonistic to science,” (35%), or that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). In his book You Lost Me (2011), Barna Group researcher David Kinnaman writes that while 52% of youth in the church hope to pursue a career in the STEM disciplines, only 1% of youth ministers and directors addressed issues of science and faith in the previous year of the study. Consequently, being an effective youth leader or minister in the church today requires a careful consideration of, and a dynamic engagement with, the content and meaning of the natural sciences. In both the Wednesday evening public forum and the Saturday research conference we will explore how theological engagement with the natural sciences can serve as a resource and strategy for effective and impactful youth ministry. We will look at the relationship between Christian faith and science in historical perspective, discuss and address key issues that are perceived as divisive within the current landscape of faith and science as it relates to youth ministry, and we will explore some practical implications and insights for how youth ministers and leaders can creatively engage science within their own particular contexts.

Professor Joshua Moritz, PhD teaches undergraduate students in the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco, has taught graduate students in theology and science at the Jesuit Graduate School of Theology at Santa Clara University and at the Graduate Theological Union, and teaches continuing theological education for Catholic clergy at the School of Applied Theology in Berkeley. He is the Director of Christian Formation at Berkeley Covenant Church where he teaches both adult and youth classes and works closely with the Youth Ministry. Dr. Moritz is Managing Editor of the academic journal Theology and Science and he has authored numerous books and articles, including Science and Religion: Beyond Warfare and Toward Understanding (Anselm Academic, 2016) and The Role of Theology in the History and Philosophy of Science (Brill, 2017). He has also partnered with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to create a video series for their Science for Seminaries project.