In recent years, increasing efforts have been made by JTF to draw congregations into a more robust engagement with science and faith. Among the findings from these efforts was the virtual absence of this engagement among youth. At the heart of this proposal is a strategic plan to create the conditions for a new imagination and practice to emerge among youth leaders, those who train them, and youth themselves. Our aim is to establish a framework that demonstrates how the science and faith conversation brings into focus core epistemological dissonances between the understanding of faith they typically gain from congregational life and their experience of a scientific understanding of the world they gain from schooling and the surrounding culture.
Central to our proposal is the analysis of Charles Taylor (A Secular Age) and his identification of the eclipse of transcendence as a principal condition of our age and how this has changed the experience of believing. We believe that youth are acutely aware of this eclipse and experience the dissonance between believing in the context of a church culture and the culture at large. Yet, this experience has not been explored in congregational youth ministry. A well formed and resourced conversation between science and faith in the formative years of high school, foregrounds the experience of youth in this secular age and creates the conditions for an encounter with the life of faith that encompasses their life and learning beyond the church environment.
Our proposal is to lay the intellectual and practical groundwork that will make it possible for this work to flourish as it is taken up and carried forward by a wide range of partners. Through a range of strategies, we will work to establish new trajectories for the development of a range of creative and innovative resources that will reshape the science and faith conversation and the practice of youth ministry for years to come.