Theology and Science Essay Competition

The Theology and Science Scholars Programme has now closed. 

Scholars needing to reach the team can email [email protected]


Between 2020-2022 the University of St Andrews administered a worldwide theology and science essay competition to award scholarships to prospective undergraduates to study theology.

What is the Initiative in Science-Engaged Theology?

Past conversations between science and religion have sometimes been unnecessarily adversarial and unhelpfully broad, and more constructive questions have been neglected. By contrast, the project in science-engaged theology explores how current scientific studies and discoveries can inform theology’s sub-disciplines, such as liturgy, church history, biblical interpretation, and ethics.

Essay Competition Questions

Applicants were invited to write essays answering questions such as:

  1. Recent studies from cognitive scientists suggest that empathy is a bad thing. If these studies are sound, how should we interpret the Parable of the Good Samaritan? 
  2. Does the evolutionary biology of altruism (e.g., animals ‘arguing’ over fairness, etc) challenge or support religious beliefs on love? 
  3. In light of lockdown, many churches used video-audio software to livestream or pre-record their services. What, if any, specific liturgical practices cannot be made ‘virtual’ in this way, and why?
  4. How might the science of addiction and habit-formation inform the Christian belief that everyone is a sinner?
  5. Some religious experiences can be induced using psychedelic substances or technologies such as the ‘god helmet’.  Should churches employ such ‘induced tech’ to enhance a person’s spiritual life? If so, how?
  6. Some cognitive psychologists argue that children have a ‘natural’ belief in God. What does this imply for theology, if anything?
  7. How might the medical sciences inform Christian, Jewish, or Islamic conceptions of death and the ethics of dying?