The objective of The Creation Project is to catalyze a field of study around the doctrine of creation that is faithful to Scripture and informed by scientific evidence.
By pursuing important lines of inquiry that place theology and science on more friendly intellectual ground (rather than either avoiding contentious issues or allowing them to dictate the conversation), we believe that this project will promote the humility and openness that are necessary for new insights, make progress toward those insights, and strengthen sustainable interdisciplinary partnerships and patterns of thought.
The Creation Project will span three years—each covering a distinct theme and set of issues—and six initiatives, directed toward academic and ecclesial engagement with the doctrine of creation in all of its historical, theological, and scientific complexity. From beginning to end, The Creation Project is committed to promoting intellectually humble and open inquiry into the fundamental reality of God’s good creation, thereby allowing theology and science to freely play their complementary roles.
This project is made possible through the support of a grant from Templeton Religion Trust.
The opinions expressed throughout this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Templeton Religion Trust.
Conversations surrounding science and theology often demonstrate more division and hostility than humility and a shared commitment to truth and understanding. This is especially so when the topic is “creation and evolution.”
Heated public debates and exchanges often heighten this polarization. Some expressions of popular piety among evangelical Christians also contribute to the problem, viewing science as an opponent to faith rather than an ally and interlocutor towards new insights and deeper understanding of reality. Sometimes this mentality is even supported by the perception that orthodox Christian theology (affirming the Bible as definitive and authoritative divine revelation) is fundamentally at odds with the natural sciences.
The consequences are not merely lack of thoughtful choices; increasingly, political and institutional responses are making it difficult for scholarly engagement or humble pastoral guidance. Increased intellectual humility on both sides of the “science and theology” conversation is needed, as well as greater openness to the claims of scientific inquiry and their potential implications in relation to doctrine and ultimate reality.
Within an ecclesial and theological context, much of the confusion is at least in part a result of an inadequate understanding of the doctrine of creation. Too often the “creation vs. evolution” controversy immediately takes center stage and crowds out the very theological convictions that should frame and shape further treatment of the controversial issues.
The Creation Project recognizes the need and opportunity for establishing and strengthening this field of inquiry within the evangelical community, both among its thought leaders and the general ecclesial public. We believe that the doctrine of creation provides opportunity for humble and open inquiry and the potential for new insights at the intersection of science and theology.
While some scholars have begun to wrestle with the difficult issues, much work remains. Gathering the thought leaders throughout the evangelical community—pastors, scholars, administrators, and the like—we are interested in changing the tone of discourse, research agendas, and public perception within the evangelical community and in making progress towards new insights in the doctrine of creation.
In advancing the doctrine of creation at the intersection of revelatory theology and scientific advance, biblical interpretation and empirical investigation, we hope to make progress within the wider evangelical community in four areas:
1. Catalyze a Field of Study in the Doctrine of Creation
The fundamental assumption of the Creation Project is that much of today’s antagonism between science and theology stems from an underdeveloped doctrine of creation. To remedy that neglect, therefore, the primary objective in all Creation Project activities is to infuse renewed energy and thought in that doctrine, especially as it relates to the current state of scientific evidence.
2. Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Doctrine of Creation
The Project aims to help stimulate careful and creative scholarly work among both academic and pastoral theologians (as well as budding scholars, ministerial students, and other ecclesial leaders) on key issues in the doctrine of creation. It seeks to aid the development of a theological approach to the doctrine of creation that is both faithful to the teachings of Holy Scripture and classical Christian teaching as well as informed by significant advances in scientific knowledge.
3. Increase Openness, Understanding, and Intellectual Humility
The Project proceeds from the conviction that Christian intellectual endeavors should begin with a steadfast confidence in the utter truthfulness of divine revelation as well as a humble and charitable openness to serious study of God’s creation.
4. Provide Clear and Public Guidance within Evangelical Communities
The Project provides an opportunity to clarify the primary questions that need to be addressed, to test which tensions and contradictions between the disciplines are real and which are merely illusory, to stimulate further work on remaining challenges, and to provide a platform for the dissemination of well-informed evangelical theologies of creation to broader evangelical communities of faith.
The Creation Project is a three-year, six-program initiative intended to address an array of audiences—lay and pastoral, student and scholar.
Learn about each of the initiatives and see which ones you might be interested in participating in.
Carl F. H. Henry Resident Fellowship
The Henry Fellowship is the centerpiece of the Creation Project, designed to foster collaborative, interdisciplinary scholarship that advances evangelical understanding of the doctrine of creation in ways that are informed by important work in the natural sciences. The fellowship supports new approaches to theological inquiry that address basic questions of reality, with a special focus on the relationship between theology and science. Each year will follow a specific topic and will offer two year-long Senior Research fellowships and four semester-long Research fellowships. In addition to the residency program, there is also a Henry Discussion Fellowship, which will consist of four, regional colloquia, aimed at the greater Chicagoland area and greater interdisciplinary variety.
Senior Research Resident: Up to $100,000 + $16,000 relocation expenses
Research: $32,000/semester + $4,000 relocation expenses/semester
Quarterly Discussion Fellowship: $1,000 stipend + travel expenses
In the sensationalized, polarizing, and vocationally hazardous terrain of North American culture, of which evangelicalism is a part, honest, humble, and open conversation is not easily encouraged. The Dabar (Heb. “word”) summer conference aims to be just such a venue. Gathering 50+ leading evangelicals together from different disciplines, denominations, and institutions, the goal of the conference is (a) to orient evangelical scholars working in the “classical” theological disciplines to relevant recent work in the natural sciences; (b) to sharpen our awareness of which questions need to be asked, what tasks need to be shouldered, and what work remains; (c) to promote theological scholarship in the field of the doctrine of creation that is both faithful to evangelical doctrinal commitments and engaged with relevant work in the natural sciences; and, (d) to develop clarity and direction within the evangelical theological community in order to both provide clear and public guidance for the church.
Harold O. J. Brown Award for Student Excellence
The Brown Award is a paper competition for doctoral students engaged in interdisciplinary work at the intersection of theology, philosophy, and science. In the spirit of Harold Brown, the Brown Award encourages theological engagement on topics of pressing concern in church, academy, and world. With the generous support of the Templeton Religion Trustthe Brown Award will address questions at the intersection of science and theology, with special consideration given to biblical teaching on creation in light of modern scientific research. The Brown Award is granted to the student paper that best exemplifies the values and vision of the Henry Center, joining the highest intellectual standards with a spirit of humility, openness, and collaboration, presenting fresh approaches to stale problems for the advancement of life and thought.
First prize: $2,500 honorarium and publication in Trinity Journal
First runner-up: $1,000 and consideration for publication
Second runner-up: $500 and consideration for publication
John Stott Award for Pastoral Engagement
The church has always sustained and propagated the intellectual core of its faith through responsible church ministry and especially through the study and proclamation of the Word of God. Every week, millions of Christians learn and are shaped through sermons, small groups, Sunday school classes, and other forms of liturgy and education. Meanwhile, thoughtful pastors and churches understandably veer away from the divisive issues surrounding science and theology, and especially creation and evolution. Consequently, our children are ill-equipped, our scientists are silenced in their religious communities, our pastors are conflicted about the potential implications of publically addressing the issues, and congregations generally lack clear and informed pastoral guidance. From this context, the Stott Award is is a congregation-specific award designed to nurture, support, and foster collaboration among pastors and congregations who are willing to engage in the topic.
6 Awards per year
Public Lectures & Events
Free and open to the public (some events may require registration)
The Henry Center’s public ministry has historically consisted in several series of public lectures and events directed primarily to a pastoral audience, and secondarily to theologically inclined lay Christians. All of these venues (i.e. Scripture & Ministry, Trinity Debate, Timothy Series, Trinity Symposium, etc.) for the public promotion of issues related to science and theology over the course of the initiative. As a public initiative, our primary goal is to impact the public conversation both by disseminating the best of confident yet humble, creative evangelical scholarship that addresses the basic concepts and realities of the world and by demonstrating a mode of theological inquiry that places the pursuit of a transcendent truth above the particularities of circumstance.
All events free and open to the public
Sapientia and Digital Presence
All our Public Lectures & Events will not only be live-streamed for our wider audience, but they will be digitized, produced, and published on our resource page and other digital platforms. Digital communication, however, is not merely about information, but interconnection and wider inter-institutional conversation and partnership. Sapientia, our periodical digital communication, allows the Creation Project to speak to and interact with all that’s happening at the intersection of science and theology from our own theological horizon. Learn from authoritative voices, keep abreast of new and important works, and get insightful commentary and opinions from trusted theologians and other experts.
Richard Averbeck, Kirsten Birkett, Darrell Bock, Bradley Gundlach, Hans Madueme, Todd Wilson
Theme Years & Topics
Each year of the Creation Project will focus upon a distinct aspect of the doctrine of creation. These three themes will also provide the general parameters for all six projects and activities.
Year 1 addresses issues related to origins, with special attention given to the opening chapters of Genesis. Year 2 addresses the doctrine of creation per se, with special attention given to issues related to divine agency. Year 3 addresses theological anthropology, with special attention given to human origins between theology and evolutionary biology.
YEAR 1: READING GENESIS IN AN AGE OF SCIENCE
The first year of the Creation Project begins with the beginning, Genesis and the origin of the world. How are the opening chapters of Genesis and other creation texts throughout the Christian Scriptures related to the claims of modern scientific advance? In this first year, we hope to (a) promote careful interpretation of the biblical creation accounts that is informed by the history of exegesis and apprised of important exegetical and hermeneutical issues by evangelical scholars who hold to the historic view of the nature and authority of Scripture; and (b) to make progress toward theological consensus regarding biblical teaching about human and natural origins that demonstrates humility and conviction regarding exegetical claims as well as openness to new discoveries in the natural sciences.
YEAR 2: AFFIRMING THE DOCTRINE OF CREATION IN AN AGE OF SCIENCE
When many evangelical Christians think of “creation,” they immediately think of “evolution,” and they often do so in terms that are either dismissive of “evolution” or of “those ‘fundamentalists’ who don’t believe in evolution”—with retrenchment and close-mindedness following. Frequently, evangelical discussions of creation have failed to grasp key elements of the doctrine of creation; too often the “creation vs. evolution” controversy takes center stage and crowds out the very theological convictions that may help frame the controversial issues, increase intellectual humility and openness, and provide fertile ground for new explorations between theology and science. Year two will thus attend to critical elements of the historic Christian doctrine of creation (e.g., the goodness and contingency of creation, ex nihilo, divine action) and to important questions and potential challenges to those elements from modern science.
YEAR 3: RECLAIMING ANTHROPOLOGY IN AN AGE OF SCIENCE
The events of the third year will be focused upon theological anthropology; here questions of the origin, nature, and ultimate purposes of human life will be explored. Benefitting from the fruits of the previous years—clarification regarding what Scripture teaches about origins (Year One) and the basic contours of the doctrine of creation (Year Two), while also stimulating more humble and open approaches to inquiry—Year Three will promote integrative and constructive theology vis-à-vis theological anthropology. The emerging flashpoints—especially the issue of the “historical Adam” and the doctrine of original sin—will receive careful attention. While some scholars have begun to wrestle with these difficult issues, much more work remains.
One of the Creation Project’s objectives is to catalyze a field of study around the doctrine of creation that is faithful to Scripture and in open and earnest dialogue with modern science.
To that end, the Creation Project’s Resident Fellows, staff, and conference participants are producing significant contributions to the current scholarly and ecclesial conversations in the form of monographs, edited volumes, and peer-reviewed journal articles. Below you will find a list of the works coming out of the Creation Project’s various initiatives that have been published, contracted, or accepted for publication.
Collins, C. John. Reading Genesis Well: Navigating History, Poetry, Science, and Truth in Genesis 1-11. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Oct. 30, 2018.
Cortez, Marc. Creation. New Studies in Dogmatics, edited by Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, forthcoming.
–––. Divine Presence: Idols, Incarnation, and the Image of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, forthcoming.
Madueme, Hans. The Evolution of Sin? Sin, Theistic Evolution, and the Biological Question—A Theological Account. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, forthcoming.
Torrance, Andrew B., and Thomas H. McCall, eds. Knowing Creation: Perspectives from Theology, Philosophy, and Science. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018.
———. Christ and the Created Order: Perspectives from Theology, Philosophy, and Science. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018.
ARTICLES AND BOOK CHAPTERS
Chambers, Nathan. “Genesis 1.1 as the First Act of Creation.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, forthcoming.
———. “Divine and Creaturely Agency in Genesis 1.” Scottish Journal of Theology, forthcoming.
———. “God’s Grandeur and the Groaning of Creation: Are Suffering and Danger Intrinsic to Creation?” Trinity Journal, forthcoming.
Chopp, Joel. “Unearthing Paul’s Ethics: Douglas Campbell on Creation, Redemption, and the Christian Moral Life.” Journal of Theological Interpretation 11, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 259–276.
Collins, C. John. “1 Corinthians 8:6 and Romans 11:36: A Pauline Confession with a Hellenistic Setting.” Presbyterian 43, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 55–68.
———. “Inerrancy Studies and the Old Testament: ‘Ancient science’ in the Hebrew Bible.” Presbyterion 44, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 42–66.
Houck, Daniel. “Original Sin in Abelard’s Commentary on Romans.” In Being Saved: Explorations in Soteriology and Human Ontology, edited by Marc Cortez, Joshua Farris, and S. Mark Hamilton. London: SCM Press, 2018, 54–67.
Jaeger, Lyida.“Facts and Theories in Science and Theology: Implications for the Knowledge of Human Origins.” Themelios 41, no. 3 (December 2016): 427–46.
———.“The Contingency of Creation and Modern Science.” Theology and Science 16, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 62-78.
Madueme, Hans. “Mission Impossible? A Reply to Hud Hudson.” Journal of Analytic Theology 5 (2017): 621–628.
———. “An Augustinian-Reformed View,” in Five Views on the Fall and Original Sin, ed. Chad Meister and James Stump (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, forthcoming).
Ohlers, R. Clinton. “The ‘Conflict Thesis’ of Science and Religion: a Nexus of Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics, and Philosophy of Religion.” Journal of Biblical and Theological Studies 2, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 208–233.
Parks, Benjamin. “From the Waters of Babylon: Frankenstein, Transhumanism, and Cosmogony.” Trinity Journal, forthcoming.