Allan R. Sharp Religion in Life Series Will Focus on Science and Religion Debate

WILSON, N.C. — Barton College is pleased to welcome Dr. Colleen Shantz, associate professor at St. Michael College in the Toronto School of Theology, as the featured guest for the 2011 Allan R. Sharp Religion in Life Series set for Thursday, Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Hardy Alumni Hall. Her lecture is titled “Natural and Unnatural Religion: Considering the Science and Religion Debate in Light of Recent Research.” This event is open to the public at no charge, and the community is invited to attend.

“Religion and science have long been seen as rivals offering incompatible explanations of the world,” shared Dr. Shantz.  “That sense of rivalry has escalated in recent years through the work of the ‘new atheists’ so that there is less thoughtful exchange than ever. But what if religions were to take seriously some of the findings of science? What shifts in perspective might follow? [I] will outline some of the findings from the new field of Cognitive Science of Religion, [which] explores the ways in which some aspects of religion are a natural result of mental processes that originally evolved for other purposes.”

Dr. Shantz received her Ph.D. from St. Michael’s College and currently teaches New Testament in the St. Michael’s College seminary and is a specialist in Paul . In her exploration of Paul’s life and letters, she has brought innovative methods to bear on the text, which have led to provocative new insights. Her 2009 book, “Paul in Ecstasy: The Neurobiology of the Apostles Life and Letters” (Cambridge University Press), drew on discoveries in neurobiology to explore the apostle’s ecstatic experiences. The book won the 2010 F. W. Beare Award as “Book of the Year” by the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies. Dr. Shantz also has been a leader in the study of religious experience in early Christianity. Her work in cognitive science and New Testament texts has garnered her invitations to seminars in Canada, the United States, Europe and, most recently, in South Africa. Dr. Shantz and Dr. Rodney A. Werline, professor and Marie and Leman Barnhill Endowed Chair in Religious Studies at Barton College, are currently co-editing a collection of essays on religious experience in early Judaism and early Christianity, which should be published summer 2012.

Established in 1991, the Allan R. Sharp Religion in Life Series brings to campus each fall semester distinguished performers and lecturers who focus on topics of practical Christian significance for the general public relating to contemporary issues. This lecture series was named in honor of Dr. Allan R. Sharp, professor emeritus of religion and philosophy, at the time of his retirement. The late Dr. Sharp served on the Barton College faculty from 1953 – 1991.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Rodney A. Werline, Marie and Leman Barnhill Endowed Chair in Religious Studies at Barton College, at 252-399-6447 or email:


Questions?  Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: