Many see faith and science like oil and water — they’re impossible to integrate. But New Wine, New Wineskins thinks differently. On April 16 and 23, the institute hosted a conference aimed at dispelling the segregation of these communities through thoughtful dialogue. The conference, Church and Science: Partners for the Common Good, was made possible by a grant Multnomah Biblical Seminary received from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in an effort to integrate science into the seminary curriculum (view the 10 seminary courses that have adopted this integration here).
“It’s bound up with our ongoing, strategic effort at Multnomah to prepare seminary graduates in their pastoral calling to constructively engage our scientific age,” says Paul Louis Metzger, director of New Wine, New Wineskins. “It’s for the sake of their parishioners who have scientific questions and scientific vocational interests, and for the church’s own missional engagement with the surrounding culture.”
The event brought in speakers from Portland and across the country to explore several themes, including the history of faith and science, hermeneutical humility, and faith and scientific methods. Attendants delved into the themes through a variety of formats, such as plenary sessions, panels, workshops and thoughtful discussion times.
“Many young Christians are leaving churches because of what they perceive to be antagonism by the church toward science,” says Metzger. “It’s vitally important that pastors in training are equipped to develop an informed respect for science and discernment on how to articulate biblical faith in our scientific age.”
Many attendees walked away feeling more prepared and aware. “As a pastor, this conference opened my eyes to the tremendous need we have to address the role of science in our faith communities,” says Gaby Viesca, pastor to women at Cedar Mill Bible Church. “It also equipped me with practical tools to help people navigate their own questions and doubts, and how to engage in meaningful conversations around this topic.”
Jared Bennett, associate pastor at Grace Community Church called the conference “phenomenal” and found Dr. John Walton’s session especially insightful. “He stressed that the debate over young earth creationism/evolution is not what we should be focused on; the mechanics of ‘how’ are secondary to the agency of ‘who.’” Bennett claims to have walked away with a lot to think about. “I will continue to read, think and pray on what I learned at the conference in the hope that I can use that personal growth to better pastor my students,” he says.
Join the ongoing discussion. New Wine is hosting forums at local churches, and you can check out their website for information and updates. You can also read endorsements for the Church and Science conference here. Lastly, if you’re a youth pastor, New Wine wants to collaborate with you in order to care for teens wrestling with their faith in the midst of scientific questions. Stay tuned.