John Templeton Foundation Project

Christian Leadership in an Age of Science: Integration of Science and Christian Faith


     Taiwan is one of the leading nations in scientific research and is also a multi-religious country. Studies on religious faith in Taiwan revealed that 33.6% of the people follow folk religions; Buddhists constitute 26.3% and Taoist about 12.7%. Christians are a minority with 4.8% follow Protestantism and 2.4% of Catholics. But the influence of the Churches on the social and political scene inTaiwangoes far beyond its numbers. The Presbyterian     Church has been actively involved in Taiwan independence movement. The church leaders and faithful have been actively involved in different social and political movements. Through educational and medical institutions, the churches play an important role inTaiwansociety. Thus the voice of the Christian leaders are respected and heard in wider society of Taiwan.

     In spite of scientific advances inTaiwan, the issues related to science have rarely found a place in discussions among Christians. One of the reasons is the lack of sufficient knowledge on science and lack of relevant literature on science-religion issues in Chinese. No formal program or any other forum is available to train clergy and leaders of Christian communities on integrating scientific issues with religious faith.

     The aim of the project is to begin the dialogue between science and Christian faith among Christian leaders and to provide the resources and platform to enhance and strengthen the ability of the Christian leaders to lead their faithful in this modern scientific era. Though the project’s overall focus is to promote science-religion interaction among leaders of all the Christian denominations in Taiwan, for strategic purposes, the project will focus on the Catholic leadership. 

     The Catholic Church in Taiwan is about 150 years old and is served by both Chinese and overseas missionaries. There is also growing number of lay leaders, who are trained in Catholic theology. The Catholic Church continues to grow with new converts every year. Often the church leaders find themselves ill-equipped to answer the questions raised by the believers and others on science and faith related issues. This project aims to provide the leaders with resources and training needed to express their faith in the modern scientific age.

Project Description

The project takes a three pronged approach to achieve its aim.

  1. Development of relevant resources in Chinese
  2. Conducting workshops and a conference for church leaders
  3. Creating a webpage to continue the dialogue

A. Development of Relevant Resources in Chinese

     The first part of the project will focus on developing relevant literature in Chinese. This will consist of invited scholarly papers on special topics and translation of important books on science and religion. The main focus of the content of the papers will be to provide scholarly basis and information, which will assist the pastors and lay leaders to answer the questions posed by others on science and faith issues.

The invited scholarly papers on following topics are planned: 

(1) The Basics

  1. Catholic tradition on Faith and Reason
    The Catholic tradition has a long history of promoting both faith and reason. From the time of St. Thomas Aquinas and to the present pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church has taught on harmonizing faith and reason in the lives of the faithful. This paper will be the basis for further integration between science and Catholic theology
    1. Chinese view of science and technology
      Humanism and scientism continue to influence modern Chinese thought, resulting in rejection of religious faith. An understanding of Chinese scientism and humanism will help the church leaders to understand and dialogue with the modern China.

(2) Catholic Perspectives on Theory of Evolution

  1. Historical overview of Catholic Church’s reaction to Theory of Evolution: This paper will outline the historical account of response of Catholic Church to theory of evolution, especially from Church documents and Papal statements
  2. An introduction to theologians who have integrated Theory of Evolution and Catholic faith : Teilhard de Chardin, Karl Rahner, John Haught and Denis Edward. This paper will briefly describe how different Catholic theologians have attempted to integrate theory of evolution and Catholic faith

(3) Integration of Catholic Faith and Evolution

  1. Catholic theology enriched by theory of evolution:
    This paper will introduce the proposals of ‘Theistic evolution’ as a way of integration of Catholic faith and evolution
  2. Original sin and theory of evolution:
    Original sin is one of the important doctrines of the Catholic Church. In the light of theory of evolution, the understanding that the sin of Adam and Eve has been transmitted to their descendents will not be tenable. This paper will explain how this doctrine can be reinterpreted in the light of theory of evolution
  3. Human Person--Image of God and Product of Evolution:
    Catholic faith teaches that human person is created in the image of God, but the theory of evolution points out human person is a product of evolutionary processes. How these two apparently opposing views can be reconciled?
  4. Christology and Evolution:
    This paper will deal with the implications of theory of evolution for Catholic Christology.
  5. Eschatology and Evolution:
    Eschatology is one of important concepts in Catholic theology. This paper will explain how Catholic eschatology can be explained in the light of evolutionary theory.
  6. Does God answer our prayers?:
    Intercessory prayer is an important part of Christian religious practice. The theology of providence has to be reformulated in the light of theory of evolution.

     The scholarly papers will be peer reviewed and edited into a book which will be made available as reference material. As part of this project, two important books on science and religion will be translated to Chinese:

  1. John F. Haught, Science and Religion: From Conflict to Conversation (Paulist Press, 1995)
  2. John Polkinghorne, The Faith of a Physicist: Reflections of a Bottom-up Thinker – The Gifford Lectures for 1993-94 (Princeton University Press, 1996)

     John Haught’s book provides an in-depth understanding of some of the important questions in Science and Religion using four distinct ways science and religion are related to each other, namely, conflict, contrast, contact and confirmation. This book can be a wonderful book for the beginners.

     John Polkinghorne’s book is his seminal work which relates science to Christian faith. He uses the Nicene Creed to describes the challenges posed by science on Christian faith. This book deals with some of the topics this project aims to make the Catholic leaders aware of.

These books will be translated, printed and made available to the participants of the workshops and conference.

B. Workshops and Conference

      The second part of the project consists of three workshops and a day-long conference for Catholic clergy, religious and lay leaders. The aim of these workshops is to enable the church leaders to interact with scholars and to share their concerns. Three half-day long workshops will be conducted. The workshop will consist of 3 scholarly presentations followed by discussion. The participants will consist of priests and lay leadersof the church and students of theology. The first workshop will be conducted in the second half of the first year and other two workshops will be conducted in the second year of the project. The theme and the topics of each workshop are as follows:

Workshop 1: What a religious leader should know about Science

  1. Chinese Scientism
  2. The Science of Big bang Theory and Evolution
  3. Reading Book of Genesis in the light of science

Workshop 2: Response of Catholic Church to Theory of Evolution

  1. Catholic Church and evolution: A historical overview
  2. Catholic tradition on Faith and Reason
  3. How evolution enhances theology

Workshop 3 : Science, Catholic faith and Human person

  1. Human person: An image of God
  2. Original sin and Evolution
  3. Christology and Eschatology

     At the end of the second year of the project, a day-long conference will be organized for the priests and leaders of the church. The theme of the conference is “Catholic Leadership in an age of Science”. The conference will consist of local and overseas speakers. The conference aims to provide more practical ways of dealing with science and religion issues in pastoral setting. The conference will consist of two parts:

  1. Integration of science and faith--Personal experiences:
    This section will include experiences of pastors and catholic scientists. The aim of this part is to provide a first-hand experience of people who have attempted to include science in their faith life.
  2. Specific questions on science and faith:
    1. Concept of soul
    2. Miracles
    3. Intercessory prayer
    4. Resurrection

     This part of the conference aims to provide the participants with practical tips on answering some of popular questions which are raised by both believers and others.

     The workshops and conference will be conducted in Fu Jen University for strategic purposes. The information about these activities will be widely advertised among the Catholic clergy and lay leaders through local church media.

C. Website

     The third part of the project is to set up a website where the resources on science and religion issues will be made available. Currently CSSR-FJ has an active website (, which primarily provides information on center’s activities. This website will be reorganized and expanded to provide resources on science and Christian faith in Chinese and English. The website will serve as a platform where further discussion on science and Christian faith can be carried out.