Concordia University Convocation: The Dialogue Between Science and Theology

I am giving the convocation at Concordia University in Irvine on February 12 in California.

The Dialogue Between Science and Theology

I understand science as a conversation among scientists. Theology is a conversation among theologians, but it is also a conversation in the Church. The proper relationship between theology and science is dialogue, a meaningful exchange between two communities with different ways of understanding the world. Each community, theological and scientific, has its own legitimacy and autonomy. Good conversations are shaped by constructive resistance, not capitulation. Dialogue includes an exchange of good-faith questions. Whether they come from theology or science, questions should be taken seriously, answered with honesty, rigor, and empathy. What should the Church expect to gain from dialogue? A coherent theological voice could rise, making sense of everything together. Even in a scientific world, we could understand, and we could be understood. The grand story, the true story that makes sense of the world, this theology is forged in dialogue. A confident and understandable voice is possible, centered on Jesus, not Adam. This theological voice is what the Church stands to gain in dialogue with science. This voice, also, might be emerging, at least in part, as the conversation unfolds around The Genealogical Adam and Eve.

@Philosurfer and the other Lutherans there, thank you for the invitation, and I look forward to seeing you!


This is part of their “Enduring Questions and Ideas” series:

Concordia is among a distinctive group of universities that offer a coherent liberal arts curriculum for all of its students. Rather than asking you to cobble together a meaningful general education experience from a vast array of disconnected distribution courses, our signature curriculum Enduring Questions & Ideas (Q&I, for short) is carefully crafted so that you discover the purpose of a liberal arts education - to grow intellectually, ethically, and spiritually. Through Q&I Core and Exploration courses, all Concordia students engage in an academic experience that provides a foundation for further learning and for life.

I’m responding to this prompt:

What is Truth?

Biology & Theology

Biology & Theology icons

People have asked this question since they have been able to speak to one another. It confronts the intellectual struggles humans have had with the idea of reality. Answering simply that truth is “what is right or factual” or “what is not false” are often posited; but when answers such as this are thought about in any depth, they are found wanting. This is why we ask this question in Core Biology 101 and Core Theology 101. It helps students realize that, while the sciences and religion set forth strong claims about the objectivity of the truth, no claim to truth is absolutely neutral, objective, or without the influence of a culture or intellectual paradigm. We can change our minds. We can evaluate our cultures and paradigms. But this takes dedication to a broad and deep conversation across disciplines. The question “What Is Truth?” puts students on a path toward the realization that truth without culture is not possible in human society. It encourages us to critically evaluate our biases, and to challenge the idea that there is a completely neutral, secular vantage point from which an observer might investigate the world. Finally, it allows us to understand the truth of this life’s experiences in light of the Truth incarnate: the person of Jesus Christ.

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Interesting, since the LCMS is officially YEC in doctrine.

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They want me to discuss both the GAE, and my approach to integration. What a privilege.

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Thanks for the free publicity on our Q&I Curriculum! I’m looking forward to the conversation that will follow your presentation. You will have a slightly different mix of students than the Crosswise students, it will be a lot of fun!

The LCMS is not officially anything on this topic except scriptural, which in theory means there are a range of positions one can take. However, in practice, YEC is the viewpoint that has drawn the most public support in our synod.


They officially say creation occurred in “six natural days”, but I guess the meaning of the extra-biblical adjective is open for discussion.


And that is about the gist of it… Moreover, I’ve always maintained that the notion of what a day is and the age of the earth can come apart. In various viewpoints, such as a day-age theory, day and age of earth are run together. But something like a “natural” day and age of earth I think can be decoupled without running afoul of our official statements.


Officially. :slightly_smiling_face:

Does this argument fly?:

There are multiple uses of the Biblical Hebrew word for an indeterminate period of time, ‘yom’, that period determined solely by context, and only traditionally translated “day” when associated with the six creation periods delineated in Genesis 1. The context in Genesis 1 is unique in all of scripture, the very creation of the universe, space and time itself, and it happened once. A plea to a meaning in another later context is illegitimate.

That probably would not work for them @DaleCutler.

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My intuition on it is no as Josh mentioned, but I’ve run the scenario by one of the OT profs here at CUI. I’ll update as I learn more about it!


For a confirmed YEC, nothing works. :slightly_smiling_face: I just would like feedback from someone acquainted with the Hebrew more than I am (it wouldn’t take much :slightly_smiling_face:).

I agree with that! :sunglasses:

That begs for another related remark. :slightly_smiling_face:

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