May marked the close of the first full academic year for the Biola University Center for Christian Thought, which spent two semesters exploring the topic of “Neuroscience and the Soul.” Funded by The John Templeton Foundation, the center is an innovative initiative that brings leading Christian scholars from around the world together to collaborate on important questions. Here are some of the highlights from 2012–13.
1. Visits by CCT presidential scholars. Renowned scholars Richard Swinburne (Oxford University), William Hasker (Huntington University), Tim O’Connor (Indiana University) and Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers) appeared at Biola throughout the year.
2. “Searching for Soul” Film Festival in October 2012.
3. “What Is the Soul and Is It Real?” An October 2012 event with J.P. Moreland on the traditional Christian belief in an immaterial soul, and what contemporary neuroscience has to say about it.
4. “Have Christians Lost Their Souls? The Bible and Human Nature.” A November 2012 event with John Cooper (Calvin Theological Seminary) on a scriptural approach to human nature.
5. Launch of a new CCT website (cct.biola.edu). The center’s online home is replete with interviews, educational videos, audio podcasts and The Table blog.
6. Release of The Table. The Table is a print and online magazine produced by the center. Issue 1 focused on the theme “Surviving Death.”
7. “Hearing and Preaching the Gospel in the Language of Neuroscience.” Two March 2013 events with author Curt Thompson on the relevance of brain science to Christian spirituality.
8. “Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.” An April 23 event with author Jeffrey Long on the empirical research on near-death experiences and their implications on the existence of the soul.
9. The second annual CCT conference. The “Neuroscience and the Soul” conference in May featured plenary talks from presidential scholars and CCT fellows, as well as other speakers such as William Hurlbut (Stanford University), Joel Green (Fuller Theological Seminary) and Brad Strawn (Fuller School of Psychology). More than 300 people attended.
What’s Ahead for CCT?
During the 2013–14 year, CCT will explore the theme “Psychology and Spiritual Formation,” probing issues related to the integration of cognitive science of religion, positive psychology, mindfulness theory and other psychological research with Christian spiritual theology and formation. Visitors will include Justin Barrett (Fuller School of Psychology), Ellen Charry (Princeton Theological Seminary), Everett Worthington (Virginia Commonwealth University), Julie Exline (Case Western Reserve University), C. Stephen Evans (Baylor University) and many others. Learn more at cct.biola.edu.