Announcing Our “Local Chapters Project”

The CSCA recently hired a Project Development Officer, having received a grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc. In this post we now offer some exciting details on how we will be putting this funding to work!

Our “Local Chapters Project” seeks to answer the big question held by the Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation: Given the unique challenges of the Canadian context, how can we foster and deepen people’s understanding of the integrity of science and Christian faith? The project aims to address the major problem of a small population living in a vast geographical landscape and the challenges such separation presents.

Each output of the project seeks to enhance the national conversation, either by strengthening local expressions, or by facilitating interaction between different groups. These will include:

  • the creation of 6 new local chapters,
  • 54 total local events,
  • 1 national lecture tour,
  • 1 major international conference,
  • 3 academic publications,
  • a vibrant online presence with an overhauled website and social media content,
  • 15 student scholarships,
  • 36 “mentorship dinners” for students, each hosted by a CSCA member,
  • press releases,
  • and brochures.

The intended audience is, in the first instance, student and professional scientists interested in the Christian faith, and in the second instance, the wider Canadian public. Outcomes include a changed perception of the compatibility of science and Christian belief among participants, increased membership in the CSCA, greater public awareness of the compatibility of science and faith, growth for students in the science and religion conversation, academic interest in the particularities of the Canadian science and religion context, and long-term sustainability in the local chapters.

Anyone interested in helping should contact Mark, our Project Development Officer, at csca.pdo@gmail.com.

This project/publication was made possible through the support of a grant from Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc.

Nature, Nurture, and Destiny

From several corners of Western culture, the rallying cry entering the twenty-first century has been to be “true to oneself,” emphasizing “self-actualization”: a casting-off of traditional authorities and a rush to realize one’s own potential. But how are we to understand that potential, and the “self,” in view of modern genetics?

When considering the role of genetics in human behaviour, it’s not long before one runs up against the question of “nature or nurture,” and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say the West is rather confused about the matter. While some use genetics as a way to justify and explain their behaviour–being true to themselves in this way–others seem to perceive their nature as just one more “authority” to be overthrown: they want to actualize themselves in spite of their biology, insisting that humans are more than the sum of their parts. However, these same lines of reason may be heard with respect to one’s nurture. As often as one’s upbringing is used to explain why they act one way or another, the familiar urge to overthrow one’s upbringing, or tradition, is heard with comparable volume: people are more than the sum of their experiences, it is said. Questions of human freedom, identity abound–not to mention those of a spiritual nature.

In his upcoming talk at McMaster University,Are We Slaves to Our Genes?” (January 30), Dr. Denis Alexander will address the nature-or-nurture dichotomy from a scientific and Christian perspective. Among other things, he will discuss the theological implications of recent developments in developmental biology, genomics, epigenetics, and neural plasticity. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear a first-rate Science and Religion scholar address these pressing issues of our time!

CSCA Event Page Link | Facebook Event Page

Introducing CSCA’s PDO

The CSCA warmly welcomes our recently appointed Project Development Officer, Mark McEwan!

Originally from Edmonton, Mark lives in B.C.’s Lower Mainland with his wife, Krystal. He is avidly interested in matters of science and religion, and is in the final stages of earning a Master’s degree in Theological Studies at Trinity Western University, where he also teaches classes occasionally. In addition to being a certified Electrician, Mark is qualified to teach physical sciences and mathematics at the secondary level (B.Ed., University of Alberta). His academic interests include epistemology, languages, apologetics, and the fruitful interaction of science and theology. Also, he has experience with creating webpages, amateur filmmaking, and volunteer youth ministry. He feels specifically called to serve Christ by encouraging responsible thinking in matters of theology, science, and especially with respect to interactions between the two.

As Project Development Officer, Mark will be working for three years with the Executive Council, and CSCA members generally, on our “Local Chapters Project,” which is funded by a grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc.

The fundamental question being addressed is, “Given the unique challenges of the Canadian context, how can we foster and deepen people’s understanding of the integrity of science and Christian faith through the activities of the CSCA?” The primary tools for answering this question will include the following: new local chapters, a national speaking tour, a major three day conference, special local chapter events, student scholarships and mentorship dinners, and advancing our online presence to support and further these initiatives. (See also our previous post.)

We are excited to have Mark on board, and he is looking forward to working with us as we deepen our engagement in a number of major cities across Canada. To that end, we are asking CSCA members to contact Mark with any suggestions they may have and also to volunteer to be local contact persons. He can be reached at csca.pdo@gmail.com.

This project/publication was made possible through the support of a grant from Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc.

Employment Opportunity: Project Development Officer

The CSCA is seeking a full time Project Development Officer to work closely with the Executive Council to oversee and facilitate the CSCA “Local Chapters” project. This is a project initiated through a Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc. (TWCF) grant, and has a three-year duration. The fundamental question being addressed is, “Given the unique challenges of the Canadian context, how can we foster and deepen people’s understanding of the integrity of science and Christian faith through the activities of the CSCA”? The primary tools for answering this question will include the following: new local chapters, a national speaking tour, a major three day conference, special local chapter events, student scholarships and mentorship dinners, and advancing our online presence to support and further these initiatives.

The candidate must be a committed Christian who adheres to the principles of the CSCA and ASA, a Canadian citizen, and must have:

  • a degree in science or other relevant field
  • excellent computer and web management skills
  • excellent oral, written, and electronic communication & interpersonal skills
  • demonstrable social-media savvy (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube)
  • experience in and enthusiasm for the cause of positive science and faith interaction, and an understanding of key issues and factors
  • ability to work with minimum supervision and express creativity and flexibility in the carrying out of duties
  • financial record-keeping and reporting skills

The full job description is posted here. The job will be based in Langley (BC), and we are looking to fill the position promptly. More details on the project and grant will be publicly released later.

This project/publication was made possible through the support of a grant from Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc.

Cognitive Science of Religion and Christian Faith

Justin L. Barrett is the Thrive Professor of Developmental Science in the Graduate School of Psychology, and Chief Project Developer for the Office of Science, Theology, and Religion Initiatives at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA. A cognitive and developmental psychologist (Ph.D., Cornell University), his books include Why Would Anyone Believe in God? (2004), Cognitive Science, Religion, and Theology: From Human Minds to Divine Minds (2011), and Born Believers: The Science of Childhood Religion (2012). Barrett describes for us here the latest developments and challenges in the cognitive sciences for Christian faith. The essay is intended as an invitation. Readers are encouraged to take up one of the insights or questions, or maybe a related one that was not mentioned, and draft an article (typically about 5,000-8,000 words) that contributes to the conversation. These can be sent to Dr. Barrett at staroffice@fuller.edu. He will send the best essays on to peer review and then we will select from those for publication in a cognitive science theme issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith. The lead editorial in the December 2013 issue of PSCF outlines what the journal looks for in article contributions. For best consideration for inclusion in the theme issue, manuscripts should be received electronically before 31 March 2016.

Looking forward to hearing your perspectives,

James C. Peterson
Editor of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith
CSCA Past-President