Word on Fire, a Catholic ministry founded by Bishop Robert Barron, requests $1,165,640 over three years to establish a suite of faith and science programs for Catholic leaders and public audiences. Through Barron’s ministry and the work of Word on Fire, we have become aware of the challenge science poses to many when considering religious belief. Whether it is scientism or the warfare thesis or caricatures of both faith and science, many believe science is a real threat to, if not the vanquisher of, religious belief. This is most evident in the rise of the religiously unaffiliated, or the so-called ‘nones’. It also runs counter to our experience of our Catholic tradition that is filled with philosophical, Scriptural, and theological insights coupled with personal narratives that collectively convey a narrative of the beautiful harmony between faith and science. So how do we illuminate those darkened by conflict with this narrative of harmony?
In response, Word on Fire proposes: (1) a series of 4 faith and science courses and 1 Digital Summit to equip a cadre of Catholic leaders, both lay and ordained, to engage with science in their ministry; (2) a series of highly produced and widely distributed videos (likely five 10-minute videos) aimed at broad religious and non-religious audiences, and (3) a Colloquium with both in-person and online audiences that is recorded for a DVD and repurposed as the fourth faith and science course. We expect 9,000 students to take at least one course; 40,000 registrants for the digital summit; over 3 million total video views with another 250,000 reactions; and, for the Colloquium, over 1,000 attending in person and another 40,000 watching online. As such, we propose activities to train leaders who reach out to public audiences as well as events and media that directly impact those public audiences helping them to understand the beautiful harmony that comes from a right understanding of the relationship between faith and science.