random thoughts after going to a TX State panel
Can religion and science coexist in a our theology and philosophy? That was the topic at a panel discussion I attended on the TX State campus last Thursday. The University is hosting a series of panels to promote religious diversity on campus. The general public is invited to attend, and since I was not already booked that I night, I decided to check it out.
There were six men and women on the panel. They ranged from a Protestant Biology professor to philosophy professors to a theologian. What makes you a theologian, anyway? From the synopsis of the night, you don’t have to be a believer in anything. Simply study religion. It was quite sad that the theologian was some how to represent a religious side. He often was more theologically confusing than he was clear. Although, he did say some very thought provoking things. On the end of the table was Kathy Miller, a political activist. According to her website, her organization’s mission is to counter the ‘religious right’. She has popped up in one of my other blogs.
The audience was made up of about 35 students of all ages and backgrounds. Most seemed to be there for some sort of extra credit. There was a time for audience questions and comments. I sat on the far right side of Centennial Hall and simply observed.
One of the questions that was asked was, “Why are American churches declining in attendance?” I wanted to stand up and shout something, but decided not to. The theologian took a shot at the answer and hit a few keys, but they all seemed to miss one very important aspect of modern churches… They are irrelevant. They don’t relate. They focus on the structure and government of the church. They look at preserving the model instead of preaching the gospel. We are starting to create a cliche, but it seems to sum it up nicely…’They are more worried with their religion, than their relationship with God.” On the contrary, those churches that are being relevant to the culture are growing, and growing by the thousands. Where they stand on theology is not the issue when it comes to growth. Of course this could be dangerous to church leaders.
The panel discussion at TX State digressed to Kathy Miller stating her case for religion and education. The students didn’t mind talking about it and the rest of the panelists sort of limped along in the discussion. It was funny to see her trying to get the professors to back up some of her stances, but the professors didn’t necessarily play along. The biology professor was consistent that science and religion could live peacefully together as long as science answers our questions of HOW things happen and religion answers our questions of WHY things happen. We could deduce that he holds to his Christian theology while being a scientist.
They gave each audience member a piece of paper and asked us to fill out a survey and give feedback. So, I mentioned that they should have active/local clergy on the panel (of any faith). After all, the point of the discussion was to promote religious diversity. Right?
I am not waiting around by the phone…