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The 2009 CTNS Charles H. Townes
Graduate Student Fellowship in Theology and Science

 This presentation was given on April 4, 2009 by Robert John Russell, CTNS Founder, Director and the Ian G. Barbour Professor of Theology and Science in-Residence, the Graduate Theological Union.

The CTNS Graduate Student Fellowship in Theology and Science is named in honor of Charles H. Townes, a member of the CTNS Board of Directors for over twenty years.   It is extremely rare for even a distinguished scientist, with a list of accolades a football field long, to accomplish something that changes the course of civilization.  Yet Charlie Townes has done so with his participation in the discovery of the maser and the laser.  From cd-players and bar-code scanners to cataract and cancer surgery and dentistry without anesthetics, from national missile defense and controlled nuclear fusion to optical fibers and lunar laser ranging, from laser desk-top printers to multimedia laser light shows, from identity holograms on credit cards to floating navigational holograms used by airplane pilots, the laser has forever changed the entire landscape of our world. 

 But what is of even greater importance for us, gathered here today to celebrate academic excellence in theology and science at the GTU, is that for years Charlie has been a champion of the intellectual validity and ethical voice of religion to an often skeptical and even dismissive scientific community.  Charlie has been unremittingly outspoken in his conviction that science and religion are convergent rather than in conflict or in isolated realms.  In particular, science should not be co-opted into the service of atheism and materialism but instead celebrated as a lasting partner with religion in service to the wider culture.  Charlie has consistently voiced his conviction on an international stage.  As a Nobel laureate in physics with over two dozen honorary degrees and as a member of such distinguished societies as the National Academy of Science and the Pontifical Academy of Science, Charlie represents the world of theological education in places where we could never go and to people who would never listen to us even if we got there.  He has given energy, vision, and financial support to institutions such as CTNS that seek to bring science and religion into responsible and respectful dialogue, and he has addressed international audiences from Bangalore to UNESCO with the message that science can be a partner with religion in the quest for the ultimate meaning of life.  The CTNS and GTU communities are truly blessed that one of our members goes from here, the theological academy where we study, teach and research together, into the austere turf of physics and cosmology to convey and to embody in his life and values our shared “good news” of hope and faith.

The purpose of the Townes Fellowship is to publicly recognize and offer modest financial support to doctoral students who have demonstrated the clear ability to do highly promising research on issues related to theology and science.  The selection is based on academic excellence, and students in any Area of the GTU doctoral program whose research focuses on theology and science are eligible to apply.  With the Fellowship carrying his name, its recipients will be inspired by Charlie’s pioneering leadership in scientific research and his internationally recognized voice for the creative interaction between science and religion. 

The winner of this year’s Charles H. Townes Graduate Student Fellowship is Junghyung Kim.  Junghyung came to the GTU in 2003 with an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Seoul National University and an M. Div. from the Presbyterian College & Theological Seminary (PCTS), South Korea.  He has published in the Annual Journal of Christian Thought Institute in PCTS and is working on the Korean translation of three recent books including Can We Believe in God and Evolution by Ted Peters and Martinez Hewlett.  His research interests include science and theology focused on eschatology in light of biological evolution, and theologies of hope drawing on the works of Jürgen Moltmann and Wolfhart Pannenberg.  His Special Comprehensive Examination will bring these research interests together in a very promising fashion. 

In the first exam on the history of theology, Junghyung will survey the variations in the history of Christian eschatology, including the Alexandrian notion of apocatastasis or universal salvation, Augustine’s classical formulation of the theology of last things, a comparison of the eschatologies of Thomas Aquinas and Joachim of Fiore, ending with a survey of the modern discussion focusing on belief in historical progress and the rediscovery of eschatology in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.  After examining the Moltmann and Pannenberg’s theologies of hope in his second exam, Junghyung will turn to the current interactions between evolution and eschatology with a focus on three aspects: “the apparent lack of purpose in the evolutionary process, the role of natural evil intrinsically involved in it, and the ethical challenge regarding the future of human evolution — whether optimistic trans/post-humanism or pessimistic nuclear self-destruction.” 

Please join me in congratulating Junghyung Kim, this year’s recipient of the Charles H. Townes Graduate Student Fellowship.


A student who is working on the comprehensive exams at an advanced level (the equivalent of the "special comprehensive exams" in the Area of Systematic and Philosophical Theology);

A student who has finished their comprehensive exams and is working on their dissertation or dissertation proposal.
Students are invited to submit their curriculum vitae, a sample of their best writing in theology and science, and a statement of 1000 words about their research topic and methodology.

Recent Past Charles H. Townes Fellows





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