Science and Faith event presented by the Center for Catholic Studies

Science and Faith event presented by the Center for Catholic Studies

Church of the Immaculate Conception
The participants attended the Divine Mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

On Friday, November 3, the Center for Catholic Studies partnered with the McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame to hold its second annual Faculty Development Day for Catholic school teachers. More than 50 teachers, administrators and educators representing 20 Catholic schools across four dioceses gathered in Bethany Hall for a full day of talks, discussion and dialogue around this year’s program theme, “Science and Faith: Exploring the Relationship.”

The Catholic intellectual tradition has always taught the true integration of faith and reason, Scripture and nature. Both science and faith point to and reveal truths about the world and its Creator, through their respective types of expression and modes of knowing. However, in modern society these two disciplines are often assumed to be in conflict, making dealing with this topic, which is characterized by misunderstanding and confusion, a particular challenge for teachers in the classroom. Recognizing this difficulty, the Development Day aims to provide teachers with the ability to communicate more confidently and effectively about the direct relationship between faith and reason, and to be able to clarify students’ misconceptions about the Church’s true appreciation for scientific pursuit.

Participants had the opportunity to learn from renowned Catholic scholars and experts in the fields of theology and science, and to address topics within contemporary faith and science discourse that today’s high school students often ask about. Dr. Maureen Kondik, associate professor of neurobiology, adjunct assistant professor of pediatrics, and ombudsman at the University of Utah, gave the keynote address, “What Is Human Life and When Does It Begin?” The closing keynote, “Science and Faith: Past, Present, and Future,” was given by Seton Hall Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, Rev. Joseph Laracey, STD. He addressed the roots of the hypothesis of the conflict between faith and science and the realist and metaphysical arguments that dispel it.

Christopher Baglow
Christopher Baglow presented his book Extraterrestrial Life and Catholic Theology.

For the remainder of the morning and afternoon sessions, teachers were able to attend the presentation of their choice from three synchronous talks. Three of the six comprehensive presentations featured leaders of the McGrath Institute’s Science and Religion Initiative: Chris Baglow, Ph.D., director of the initiative and professor in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, spoke on “Extraterrestrial Life and Catholic Theology.” ; “Why You Don’t Need to Fear Your Toaster: What Is Artificial Intelligence and What Does It Do?” Program Director Heather Foucault Cam answered; Stephen M. Barr, Ph.D., current visiting scholar at the McGrath Institute and professor emeritus in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware, explored “Is the Universe Made for Life?”

The Science and Religion Initiative is an operation of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame, which partners with dioceses, parishes, and Catholic schools and links the Catholic intellectual tradition to both the university and the life of the church. The Science and Religion Initiative is one of many innovative programs offered by the McGrath Institute for Evangelism and Formation, responding to the need to integrate productive dialogue into education on the topic of faith and reason. Speaking about the collaboration between the McGrath Institute and the Center for Catholic Studies, Matthew Higgins, the Center’s director of programs, said: “It has been a great blessing to work with our friends at the McGrath Institute. They offer their expertise and resources while allowing us at Seton Hall to make this event truly our own.” “This collaboration at the Center for Catholic Studies allows us the ability to fulfill Seton Hall’s mission as a diocesan university, by being a resource and service to our local community. The Church. Offering this program to our Catholic school teachers is a wonderful way to live out this mission.”

Concluding the breakout session, Katherine Polinsky, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Bellarmine University, spoke about “Human Beings Through the Lens of Deep Time,” and José Lopez, Ph.D., Professor of Physics at Seton Hall and an internationally recognized expert in the field of microplasmas, He introduced “our mysterious God and the omnipresent electron.” Finally, Seton Hall Community Minister and Professor Rev. Gerald Bonopani, Ph.D., discussed “The Science and Theology of Food,” presenting key points and highlights from the CORE III course of the same name, taught by a senior lecturer in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Throughout the program, breaks between presentations and breakout sessions allowed participants to engage in fellowship with fellow teachers and with presenters, as well as to reflect and pray together (including noon Mass in the Seton Hall Immaculate Conception Chapel). Attendees were encouraged to carefully consider the material presented, ask questions and share their own experiences of engaging with science and faith in education. The day ended with a spontaneous roundtable, where teachers shared best practices and built on each other’s suggestions on how to implement discussion practically and pastorally among their students and wider communities.

Mary McManus-McElroy, director of the New Jersey Network of Catholic School Families and publicly funded programs in the Archdiocese of Newark, shared her thoughts on the event:

“Thank you to the Center for Catholic Studies, Seton Hall University, and the McGrath Institute for Church Life, University of Notre Dame, for hosting “Science and Faith: Exploring the Relationship,” at Seton Hall University. Students are increasingly questioning whether science is scientific or not. Concepts conflict with the Church, This symposium provided detailed examples of how the Church supports scientific research, with many of the great scientific advances made by the clergy.For Catholic school teachers, exploring how the Catholic intellectual tradition’s dialogue with science is not only practical and timely, but underscores its unique role in unlocking the wisdom of God. “Working in the world around us. The format of the day made it easier for teachers to interact with Seton Hall University professors and program staff at the Seton Hall University McGrath Institute who are experts in their fields.”

The Center for Catholic Studies looks forward to continuing to facilitate discussion and understanding of this important topic in light of the Catholic intellectual tradition. As Rev. Larcy puts it, “A 2015 Pew Research Center study showed that 59% of Americans surveyed believe that science and religion are often at odds. It is imperative that we empower high school teachers to address the premise of conflict between science and religion.” Seton Hall University is uniquely positioned to be a leader in this field.” The Center hopes that in contemplating those questions that lead to an encounter with divine mystery, teachers may be strengthened to guide students in their search for truth.
Categories: Faith and Service

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