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ACU Home > Major Events > News > 2003 News Archive > Dan Brannan Oxford grant
Dr. Dan Brannan, professor of biology

ACU professor to research, teach in CCCU Temple Oxford Seminars

For immediate release
Jan. 31, 2003

Dr. Dan Brannan, professor of biology at Abilene Christian University, will spend the next three summers researching science and theology in Oxford - an activity Brannan, who will turn 50 later this year, said he finds especially appropriate for this time in his life.

"It should be one of the biggest mental and spiritual challenges I've ever faced," Brannan said. "Some faith traditions claim that as one turns 50, he should spend the remainder of his life in a monastic setting contemplating spiritual and philosophical meanings of life. Let's just say the timing for this project was good."

Although he won't be living in a monastery, he will be contemplating spiritual and philosophical traditions as they relate to science. Brannan received a three-year grant from the Sir John Templeton foundation to conduct research and participate in the Temple Oxford Seminars in Science and Christianity, administered by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, intended to explore the interface between science and Christian thought.

The Sir John Templeton Oxford Seminars assemble scholars from around the world with backgrounds in the sciences, theology, philosophy and history to develop a new generation of scholars in the field of science and religion. The seminars take place at Wycliffe Hall in cooperation with the Ian Ramsey Centre. The participants have access to Oxford's major research libraries including the Bodleian and have all expenses paid in addition to a yearly stipend of $2000.

"Evolutionary theories of human behavior raise major problems for Christian traditions related to theodicy, sin, and atonement," Brannan said. "My goal is to evaluate those traditions in an effort to integrate sociobiology in a Christian context. It may be that the two cannot be integrated because of methodological differences between scientific and theological explanations for behavior. But there should at least be a way of explaining both so that either 'side' will be able to appreciate their differences."

Each summer over the next three years, Brannan will travel to Oxford, U.K., for month-long seminars held at Wycliffe Hall. He will be paired with a key Oxford scholar to explore the science and religion topic. Senior scholars at Oxford act as mentors to guide the participants and assist them in their development. He will also share his research at workshops during the seminars, give lectures to experts and lay audiences, and publish in scholarly or popular journals.

In this specific area of study, a firm conclusion may not be easy, Brannan said.

"Resolution of my topic is particularly problematic. I will look to process theology for this resolution. This is a theological approach not usually pursued by conservative Christians. But it is more coherent and consistent with the scientific understanding of the natural world."

The competition for this grant was based on a proven commitment and competence in the field of science and religion, experience in interdisciplinary thinking, and the likelihood that the project would generate scholarly contributions in the field and positively influence the applicant's teaching activities.

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Last Update: December 17, 2007
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