The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professor’s bio.
This week’s course is: “Humanity in a Scientific Age.”
About Humanity in a Scientific Age
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students are learning about the intersection of science and theology with the Rev. Dr. Ron Cole-Turner in the class “Humanity in a Scientific Age.” This course is open to students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theology (MTS) degree programs.
Recent scientific research on human evolution has led to a new perspective that complicates the way theology understands science, while today’s technology offers many ways in which evolved humanity may be modified further. This course invites students to consider these developments in light of Christian theology and to explore the implications of science for Christology, eschatology, and pastoral theology.
By the end of the course, students will be able to exhibit a working knowledge of two important topics: current views on human origins held by foremost experts in the field, and some of the ways in which technology may be used to modify human beings and humanity as a whole. Students will be able to engage thoughtfully with science and technology, showing the ability to integrate scientific insight with biblical and theological perspectives on humanity, sin, salvation, redemption, and eschatological transformation. Finally, they will critically evaluate emerging theological proposals that seek to respond to scientific and technological perspectives on humanity.
Assignments for this seminar-style course include required readings, presentations, and four brief papers. Required readings are pulled from a wide range of sources—e.g. books, journal articles in biblical interpretation and theology, journal articles from science publications—and are provided to the students. The one required text outside these articles will be Ron Cole-Turner’s The End of Adam and Eve: Theology and the Science of Human Origins.
About the Instructor
The Rev. Dr. Ron Cole-Turner is the H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics, a position relating theology and ethics to developments in science and technology. Dr. Cole-Turner received a B.A. from Wheaton College and both an M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, a founding member of the International Society for Science and Religion (currently serving as vice president), and he has served on the advisory board of the John Templeton Foundation and the Metanexus Institute. He has written and edited many books about the intersection of science and theology, and he is the author of the popular baptism hymn, “Child of Blessing, Child of Promise.”