50 people bridging the gap between religion and science

This stained glass window by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios, which is installed at Yale University, depicts the peaceful coexistence of science and religion. (via Creative Commons)

Today’s medical and technological advancements are pushing the limits of religion and science. Debates on gene editing, artificial intelligence and radical life extension ask us to consider what it means to be human and how to know when efforts to heal someone have gone too far.

Scientists and faith leaders alike struggle with how to proceed in the midst of rapid progress. A growing number of programs, papers and people seek to help them help each other.

Religion and science are often presented as enemies, but it’s not as simple as that. Scientists and religious leaders don’t just fight. They coordinate outreach on issues such as climate change, working together to find an ethical approach to new challenges.

There are religious scientists and scientific pastors. Some congregations reject theories like evolution, while others host astronomy nights and discussions on reproductive technologies.

Here are the people and programs embracing the overlaps between religion and science. These scientists, scholars and faith leaders will help you tell more nuanced stories about these two ways of studying the world.

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  • Bradley Shavit Artson

    Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson is vice president of American Jewish University. He studies environmental ethics, racial and economic justice, philosophy and the interplay between religion and science.

  • Christopher T. Baglow

    Christopher T. Baglow is the author of Faith, Science and Reason: Theology on the Cutting Edge, a textbook aimed at mending the relationship between Catholic theology and science. He directs the science and religion initiative at the University of Notre Dame.

  • Justin L. Barrett

    Justin L. Barrett is a professor of psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He specializes in the cognitive science of religion.

  • Dean Blevins

    Dean Blevins is a professor of practical theology and Christian discipleship at Nazarene Theological Seminary. His research interests include neuroscience and technology.

  • David Bosworth

    David Bosworth is an associate professor of Old Testament and biblical studies at the Catholic University of America. He helped coordinated his school’s involvement in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science for Seminaries program.

  • William P. Brown

    William P. Brown is a professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary. His research interests include ecology, social justice and the dialogue between faith and science.

  • Anna Case-Winters

    Anna Case-Winters is a theology professor at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, where she’s taught on the relationship between religion and science. She’s also an ordained Presbyterian minister.

  • John C. Cavadini

    John C. Cavadini is a theology professor at the University of Notre Dame, where he also directs the McGrath Institute for Church Life. The McGrath Institute offers seminars on science and religion for Catholic educators.

  • Ronald Cole-Turner

    Ronald Cole-Turner is the H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, author of Transhumanism and Transcendence: Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Advancement and editor of Design and Destiny: Jewish and Christian Perspectives on Human Germline Modification.

  • Megan Powell Cuzzolino

    Megan Powell Cuzzolino is a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a former science teacher. Her graduate research centers on potential clashes between scientific and religious knowledge.

  • Ted Davis

    Edward B. “Ted” David is a professor of the history of science at Messiah College.

  • Doris Donnelly

    Doris Donnelly is a theology professor at John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. She leads the school’s effort to expand the role science plays in Roman Catholic seminary curriculums.

  • Elaine Howard Ecklund

    Elaine Howard Ecklund directs the religion and public life program at Rice University, where she is also a professor of sociology. She is the author of Korean American Evangelicals: New Models for Civic Life.

  • Stephen Freeland

    Stephen Freeland is an evolutionary biologist and director of interdisciplinary studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He studies the interface of science and religion and gave a joint lecture in exoplanets for the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion.

  • Sarah Melissa Goss

    Sarah Melissa Goss is the founder and director of the National Council for Science and Faith, a network of scholars, religious leaders and scientists working to bridge divides between faith communities and the world of science.

  • Deborah Haarsma

    Deborah Haarsma is president of the BioLogos Foundation, a Christian organization that promotes the harmony of religion and science. She is a former professor in the physics and astronomy department at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., and has written widely on the relationship of science and religion.

  • Russell Haitch

    Russell Haitch is a professor of theology and human science at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. He is ordained in the United Methodist Church.

  • Salman Hameed

    Salman Hameed is an astronomer and associate professor of integrated science and humanities at Hampshire College. He is director of the Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies.  He operates the science and religion blog called Irtiqa, which emphasizes debates about science in the Islamic world.

  • Martin Frederick Hanna

    Martin Frederick Hanna is an associate professor at Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses on the Bible, Christian ethics and the philosophy of science.

  • Rachael Jackson

    Rabbi Rachael Jackson leads Agudas Israel Congregation in Hendersonville, N.C. Before she was ordained, she worked as an analytical chemist.

  • Zack Jackson

    The Rev. Zack Jackson is the pastor of Community United Church of Christ in Reading, Pa. He helped organize the UCC’s Science and Technology Network.

  • Jamie Jensen

    Jamie Jensen is a biology professor at Brigham Young University. She studies how to increase scientific understanding and reasoning.

  • Se Kim

    Se Kim serves as associate director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion, which offers programs and events connecting faith leaders with scientists, such as Science for Seminaries and Scientists in Synagogues. She has a doctorate in molecular and human genetics.

  • Mike McHargue

    Mike McHargue, who is also known as “Science Mike,” hosts two podcasts on science and faith: “Ask Science Mike” and “The Liturgists.” Contact through Megan Schumann at mschumann@penguinrandomhouse.com. 

  • Geoffrey A. Mitelman

    Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman is the founding director of Sinai and Synapses, an organization that brings together Judaism and science, mostly through the introduction of scientists into synagogue programming. He is also a scholar of biblical and Judaic studies. Mitelman can be contacted through the Sinai and Synapses website.

    Contact: 646-853-4421.
  • David Nichols

    The Rev. David Nichols is the pastor of Mount Tabor Lutheran Church in Salt Lake City. He helped launch the Faith, Ethics and Science Roundtable, which brings together religious leaders and scholars for monthly discussions.

  • Joel P. Okamoto

    Joel P. Okamoto is an associate professor of systematic theology at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He studies contemporary theology, Lutheranism and issues at the intersection of science and faith.

  • Rick Potts

    Rick Potts is a paleoanthropologist who leads the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program. He’s worked to ease evolution-related conflict between scientists and people of faith. Contact through the press office at 202-633-2950.

  • Adam Pryor

    Adam Pryor is an assistant professor of religion at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan. His research interests include the origins of life, astrobiology and embodiment.

  • Andrew Root

    Andrew Root is a professor of youth and family ministry at Luther Seminary. From 2015 to 2018, he led a program called Science for Youth Ministry, which trained youth pastors on how to incorporate science lessons into their work.

  • Robert John Russell

    Robert John Russell is the founder and director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences and a professor of theology and science at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. He’s a leading researcher committed to a positive interaction between the fields of theology and science.

  • Chris Scheitle

    Chris Scheitle is an assistant professor of sociology at West Virginia University. He studies the relationship between religion and science, religious discrimination and religious structures in the U.S.

  • Lea F. Schweitz

    Lea F. Schweitz is an associate professor of systematic theology and religion and science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. She also directs the Zygon Center for Religion and Science.

  • Craig Story

    Craig Story is a professor of biology at Gordon College, where he also directs the Pastors and Science Project.

  • S. Joshua Swamidass

    S. Joshua Swamidass is an associate professor of pathology and immunology at Washington University in St. Louis. He served as science adviser to Concordia Seminary from 2015 to 2017.

  • Frederick L. Ware

    Frederick L. Ware is an associate professor of theology at Howard University School of Divinity. He is an expert on black Pentecostalism and an ordained minister in the Church of God in Christ. He coordinated his school’s 2016 conference on religion and science.

  • Tom Wassink

    Tom Wassink is a psychiatry and genetics researcher at the University of Iowa. He’s also the co-pastor of Sanctuary Community Church in Coralville, Iowa.

  • Leslie Wickman

    Leslie Wickman is the executive director of the American Scientific Affiliation, a group of Christian scientists working to improve the dialogue between science and religion. She is also a professor of engineering at California Baptist University.

  • Jennifer Wiseman

    Jennifer Wiseman is an astronomer and director of the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is also an astrophysicist and studies the formation of stars and planets.

     

  • Ting Wu

    Ting Wu is a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School. She’s hosted discussions on gene editing with members of the clergy and other community leaders in an effort to increase public awareness.

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