Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences

Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences

Graduate Theological Union

The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) is an affiliate of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California and is dedicated to research, teaching and public service.  

The central scientific focus of CTNS is on developments in physics, cosmology, evolutionary biology, and genetics, with additional topics in the neurosciences, the environmental sciences, and mathematics.  With regard to the theological task, CTNS engages in both Christian and multi-religious reflection.  The Christian theological agenda focuses on the various doctrinal loci of systematic theology.  The multi-religious agenda attends primarily to theological issues arising from the engagement between the sciences and religious traditions such as Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and indigenous spiritualities.

Robert John Russell, the founder and director of CTNS, best describes the relationship of science and religion:  "The universe is more mysterious than either science and religion can ever fully disclose, and the urgencies of humankind and the natural environment demand an honest interaction between the discoveries of nature, the empowerment afforded us by appropriate technology, the inherent value of the environment, and the demand that we commit ourselves to a future in which all species can flourish.  We can no longer afford the stalemate of past centuries between theology and science, for this leaves nature Godless and religion worldless.  When this happens, our culture, hungering after science for something to fill the void of its lost spiritual resources, is easy prey to New Age illusions wrapped in science-sounding language - the 'cosmic self-realization movement' and the 'wow of physics' - while our 'denatured' religion, attempting to correct social wrong and to provide meaning and support for life's journey, is incapable of making its moral claims persuasive or its spiritual comfort effective because its cognitive claims are not credible.  Nor can we allow science and religion to be seen as adversaries, for they will be locked in a conflict of mutual conquest, such as 'creation science' which costs religion its credibility or 'scientific materialism' which costs science its innocence.

Instead it is time to begin a new and creative interaction between theology and science - interaction which honors and respects the integrity of each partner, and interaction in which convictions are held self-critically and honest engagement prized,  an interaction which focuses specifically on the rigorous theories of mainstream natural science and the most central positions of mainline theology, an interaction which aims at serving the broader concerns of the global human and ecological communities.  This then is the mission of CTNS." 

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