The 2019 Russell Family Research Fellowship in Religion and Science


What Has Science to do with Youth Ministry?

 Why Theological Engagement with the Natural Sciences is Vital for Effective and Impactful Youth Ministry

Click here to register.

Joshua M. Moritz

CTNS Public Forum, Wednesday, April 10

Research Conference, Saturday, April 13

What has science to do with youth ministry, and the next generation of the Church to do with the Academy? How can an awareness of the findings and theories of evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and physics enrich youth discipleship, teaching, and pastoral counseling? What is at stake if youth leaders ignore science? According to Christian Smith, Director of the Notre Dame Center for Social Research who led the National Study of Youth and Religion, the church's lack of engagement with science is one of the chief reasons that youth lose their faith as they emerge into adulthood. Other recent national studies have found that the failure of churches to effectively and relevantly engage the natural sciences is one of the top reasons that young adults abandon their Christian faith in college. For example, the Barna Group's research has shown that many young adults with a Christian background, but who have abandoned their faith in college, have done so because of their experience that "churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in," (29%), that "churches come across as antagonistic to science," (35%), or that "Christianity is anti-science" (25%). In his book You Lost Me (2011), Barna Group researcher David Kinnaman writes that while 52% of youth in the church hope to pursue a career in the STEM disciplines, only 1% of youth ministers and directors addressed issues of science and faith in the previous year of the study. Consequently, being an effective youth leader or minister in the church today requires a careful consideration of, and a dynamic engagement with, the content and meaning of the natural sciences. In both the Wednesday evening public forum and the Saturday research conference we will explore how theological engagement with the natural sciences can serve as a resource and strategy for effective and impactful youth ministry. We will look at the relationship between Christian faith and science in historical perspective, discuss and address key issues that are perceived as divisive within the current landscape of faith and science as it relates to youth ministry, and we will explore some practical implications and insights for how youth ministers and leaders can creatively engage science within their own particular contexts.

Professor Joshua Moritz, PhD teaches undergraduate students in the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco, has taught graduate students in theology and science at the Jesuit Graduate School of Theology at Santa Clara University and at the Graduate Theological Union, and teaches continuing theological education for Catholic clergy at the School of Applied Theology in Berkeley. He is the Director of Christian Formation at Berkeley Covenant Church where he teaches both adult and youth classes and works closely with the Youth Ministry. Dr. Moritz is Managing Editor of the academic journal Theology and Science and he has authored numerous books and articles, including Science and Religion: Beyond Warfare and Toward Understanding (Anselm Academic, 2016) and The Role of Theology in the History and Philosophy of Science (Brill, 2017). He has also partnered with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to create a video series for their Science for Seminaries project.



Fellow's Public Forum Lecture with Joshua M. Moritz:

Wednesday, April 10, 2019, 7pm

Richard S. Dinner Board Room
Graduate Theological Union (Flora Lamson Hewlett) Library
2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley, California, USA
This event is free and open to the public.

The Annual Russell Family Research Conference
Saturday, April 13, 2019, 1-5pm

Richard S. Dinner Board Room

Graduate Theological Union (Flora Lamson Hewlett) Library

2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley, California, USA

Registration required. (Sorry, lunch is not provided). Register here.

Conference Respondents

Greg Cootsona

Greg Cootsona is Lecturer in Religious Studies and Humanities at Chico State University and directed Science and Theology for Emerging Adult Ministries, a three-year, $2 million grant project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, which offered resources for leaders of emerging adult ministries on integrating Christian faith with mainstream science. His most recent book is  Mere Science and Christian Faith: Bridging the Divide with Emerging Adults  with InterVarsity Press (2018). He is finishing a manuscript to be published by Routledge Press in 2020,  Science and Religion in America From 1996-2014, Greg was associate pastor for adult discipleship at Presbyterian churches in Chico and New York City. He holds degrees from U.C. Berkeley, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the Graduate Theological Union. He also serves on advisory council or committees for BioLogos; the AAAS's Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion; the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences; and Elaine Howard Ecklund's REAL CHANGE project. He has written for  The Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today  online,  Theology and Science Journal, and  Zygon . He has been interviewed by CNN, the  Wall Street Journal , the BBC, and  The New York Times . He and his wife, Laura, live in Chico and have two emerging adult daughters (21 and 24).



Rachelle Hayes

Rachelle Hayes came from Sacramento to be part of Berkeley Covenant Church in the summer of 2011 after graduating from UC Davis in 2010 and student leading with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. With a desire to move to the East Bay and partner with God's family in ministry, she began at Berkeley Covenant as a youth ministry intern and then became the Youth Director in the spring of 2013. She loves spending time with the youth, her church community and family, and enjoys speaking Spanish and engaging with people of different cultures and backgrounds. Rachelle also has an identical twin sister! 





Brian Green


Brian Patrick Green is the director of technology ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. His work is focused on the ethics of technology, including such topics as AI and ethics, the ethics of space exploration and use, the ethics of technological manipulation of humans, the ethics of mitigation of and adaptation towards risky emerging technologies (including ones with catastrophic risk potential), and various aspects of the impact of technology and engineering on human life and society, including the relationship of technology and religion (particularly the Catholic Church). Green teaches AI ethics in the Graduate School of Engineering and formerly taught several other engineering ethics courses. He is co-author of the Ethics in Technology Practice corporate technology ethics resources.



Tentative Conference Schedule (Please note: lunch is not provided)




Welcome and Introduction


Fellowship Lecture: Joshua Moritz

2:30pm Response #1

Response #2

3:10pm Response #3
3:30pm Response #4
3:50pm Break
4:05pm Panel Discussion
4:20pm General Q&A
4:35pm Final Remarks from the Fellow
4:50pm Presentation of the 2019 Charles H. Townes Graduate Student Fellowship
5:00pm Refreshments
5:30pm Adjournment


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