St. Charles wins $10,000 Course Development Grant

Mr. James Despres, Acting Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Director of the Master of Arts in Philosophical Studies (M.A.P.S.) program, has been awarded a grant from the John Templeton Foundation through the Re-Engaging Science in Seminary Formation project at John Carroll University.  The $10,000 grant is for the development of a new course at St. Charles Seminary—“Cosmos & Creation: Perspectives on Scientific Discoveries and the Intelligibility of Human Experience.”

The goal of the funding project is to support seminaries in their efforts to encourage scientific literacy within seminary education, and for seminarians to engage in the big questions of science and scientific discovery.  From the Science in Seminaries Project:

“The impetus for this project is the impressive output of official Church documents, including the many statements of Saint Pope John Paul II, and more recently those of Pope Francis, that strongly support a recovery and reintegration of science in the seminary intellectual formation program. It is true that the importance of scientific literacy in seminary formation is not a new insight in the Roman Catholic Church but it has gained substantial momentum since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).”

“The Planning Team involved in this project thinks this initiative offers seminaries the support needed to attain the vision that has already been set by the magisterium so that scientifically literate priests, conversant with the scientific method, the philosophy of science, a general scientific vocabulary, and a familiarity with the basic content of the physical sciences, would be able to read scientific articles with understanding, evaluate information with a sufficient knowledge base, and engage in dialogue on science topics with increasingly informed congregations.”

For more information from the Science in Seminaries project, see here.


Course Description:

Cosmos & Creation: Perspectives on Scientific Discoveries and the Intelligibility of Human Experience

Modern natural science is a unique and astonishing achievement of human reason. The Church affirms this. Her affirmation, however, is not without also recognizing the human's own uniqueness. Hence, the Church challenges various interpretations of scientific discoveries with a simple question: what happens to the human when considered through the lens of science? This course will explore this and related questions in light of the following, with focus on the science: scientific method; the Scientific Revolution and the Copernican System; Brahe, Kepler, & the Galileo Affair; Laws of Motion & Newtonian Mechanics; Big Bang Cosmology, and Man’s Place in the Cosmos with special attention to Evolution & Psychophysical Problems.
This course is intended to provide the seminarian with a basis for entering into dialogue with scientific discoveries, debates, and challenges especially as these pertain to an affirmation of God, His Creation, and the place of the human being within the Created order.  The cosmos is a spectacular and wonderful phenomenon, made all the more so for us by the profound scientific achievements born from the scientific revolutions of the last several centuries.  As Pope Francis has affirmed, we as a Church do not seek to hold back “the marvelous progress of science,” but to rejoice and delight in it. 
Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, has likewise challenged the seminarian to integrate science into new avenues of evangelization: “Faith is not fearful of reason,” he says, and new efforts at the evangelization of culture are to be “attentive to scientific advances,” wishing “to shed on them the light of faith and the natural law so that they will remain respectful of the centrality and supreme value of the human person at every stage of life.” 
To encourage a unity within this “dynamic interchange,” this course will target seven core areas: Methodology and Scientific Materialism, The Church & Science, The Scientific Revolution, Galilean Contributions and Myths, Newtonian Mechanics, Creation & Big Bang Cosmology, and Man’s Place within the Cosmos & Darwinian Contributions.
The course is scheduled to run in Fall 2017.

Check back soon for further updates and for special lectures at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in the Spring and Fall 2017!