Trinitarian Perspectives on Science

On this page I will be posting materials related to an online course for Spring 2020, “Trinitarian Perspectives on Faith and Science from T. F. Torrance and C. S. Lewis,” offered by Grace Communion Seminary (TH504).


As with most GCS courses, this class is 13 weeks long – 10 weeks for lectures, two for finishing assignments and writing the final paper, and one week for final feedback from the instructor. For the first 10 weeks, the first lecture introduces a perspective and the second lecture applies that perspective to a case study, past or present.

WEEK

Sp ’20

PERSPECTIVE

APPLICATION

0

Jan 2

Registration begins.
Class Orientation Assignment open.

1

Jan 14

Thinking Theologically

Flat Earth Myth

2

Jan 20

Language and Reality

The Galileo Affair

3

Jan 27

Knowing Kata-physin

Interdisciplinary kata-physin connections: Art, Astronomy, Music and Theology in the world of Galileo

4

Feb 3

Being and Relation

Maxwell, Einstein, and the Big Bang.

5

Feb 10

Contingent Order

Geology. Anthropic principle. Plurality of Worlds.

6

Feb 17

Models of God and Nature

The Models in C. S. Lewis’ Ransom Trilogy: Preparing to Read Out of the Silent Planet

7

Feb 24

Stratified Reality

Reality in Many Dimensions

8

March 2

Dualism: Cultural Split

Deism, Intelligent Design and Scientific Atheism

9

March 9

Natural Theology

Darwin, Evolution, Evolutionary Creation

10

March 16

The Priest of Creation:
Magic, Ecology, Stewardship.

The new Creation and the future of the universe

11

March 23

All regular assignments for weeks 1-10 and extra-credit book essays are due by Monday, March 30, 11 pm.

12

March 30

Weeks 11-12 are devoted to the final paper on two chapters from Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith.

13

Apr 7

Final paper due by 11 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

The schedule is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
– William Butler Yeats (attributed)


Why T. F. Torrance? Why C. S. Lewis?
Examining the views of Torrance and Lewis are helpful because:

  • They are two of the most highly regarded 20th-century Christian writers.
  • Each wrote in the Nicene theological tradition of Athanasius.
  • The theology of each is encountered in-depth in other GCS courses.
  • Each wrote prolifically on Christianity and science.
  • Their books are not textbooks, but classics, for life-long learning.
  • Many report that reading their books is an intellectually exhilarating, life-changing experience.
  • Each spoke anchored in the Church, for the sake of the world.

Books:

Bibliographic information indicated below, for works by Torrance, is for the first edition, yet for this course any edition is fine. Click on any “McGrath number” (e.g., #1976-331) to go to the first edition record at tftorrance.org. Look in the right margin of that record to find links to all known later editions, translations, digital editions, and original audio lectures, as well as to booksellers via LibraryThing, Amazon, Bookfinder and AbeBooks. The approximate price indicated is based on a recent print edition at Amazon; the other booksellers may offer copies at lower prices. Please obtain these books before class begins.

  • Torrance, Thomas F. Space, Time and Resurrection (STR). Edinburgh: Handsel Press, 1976; #1976-331. ISBN: 9780905312002. 209 pp.; we will read selections. About $30 at online booksellers. Available in many editions, including Apple Books and Kindle.
  • Torrance, Thomas F. The Ground and Grammar of Theology (GGT). Charlottesville, Virginia: The University of Virginia Press, 1980; #1980-369. 192 pp.; we will read selections. About $44 at online booksellers for ISBN 0567043312 edition. Available in many editions, including Logos Bible Software ($25).
  • Lewis, C. S. Out of the Silent Planet; LibraryThing. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1965. Originally published in 1938. 160 pp. About $10 at online booksellers for ISBN 0743234901 edition. Available in many editions, including Apple Books, Kindle and in audiobook format. The audiobook is 5 hours and 31 minutes long.
  • Torrance, Thomas F. The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1988; #1988-489. About $27 online for ISBN 0567665585 edition. Available in many editions, including audio lectures, Apple Books and Kindle. 345 pp. You will choose two chapters from chs. 2, 3, 4, and/or 5 as the subject of the final paper. If you do not wish to purchase a copy, the free original audio lectures should be adequate if you allow extra time for repeated listening and transcribing. The Trinitarian Faith is recommended reading for TH505 Doctrine of the Trinity.

“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book!” Henry David Thoreau


This course will equip participants to…

  1. Converse with four scientists and creation workers about their vocational callings, in order to gain experience that will help make our churches safe and welcoming places for those who are involved in any of the fields of the natural sciences, including geology, evolutionary biology, healthcare, technology and engineering, agriculture, and conservation.
  2. Critically analyze misconceptions that underlie the most common caricatures of conflict between Christian faith and modern science such as the flat Earth myth, the trial of Galileo, the immensity of the universe, the plurality of worlds, the age of the Earth, Darwin and evolution, and the Church and ecology, in order to be able to respond to persons, unbelievers and believers alike, who are troubled about such issues.
  3. Develop and demonstrate a practice of thinking theologically about God and nature, or faith and reason, according to a “Christian theological instinct” that reasons from a Trinitarian basis and goes beyond responding ad hoc to select misconceptions about Christianity and science.
  4. Develop and articulate a creational theology which arises naturally and organically from the nature of the gospel and the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity. That is, to practice drawing out the implications of the Incarnation and the Trinity for a Christian perspective on creation and the natural sciences.
  5. Describe and explain select perspectives of T. F. Torrance and C. S. Lewis on faith and science.
  6. Enter into weekly discussion with other students in the course to share ideas, concepts and reflections on how the course materials apply to ministry.
  7. Practice reading well by adopting strategies appropriate to the nature of the text, such as close reading for the dense prose of T. F. Torrance and literary reading for the Ransom Trilogy of C. S. Lewis.

Here’s the first lecture, which serves as an introduction to the course

TH504 Wk1 Perspective from Kerry Magruder on Vimeo.

This entry was posted in Education, Nature, Theology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *