“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”
I don’t think aphorist Mason Cooley was thinking of pandemic summer reading when he coined this gem, but his words may never be more true than now.
As you know, one of the central goals of Science for the Church is to help you, the body of Christ, find good resources. This includes material that connects the dots between science and Christian faith as well as science that is relevant to Biblical or theological themes. And sometimes it is just the kind of science that inspires wonder at God’s handiwork.
Each week, we share a few links that we believe will help you better understand a particular theme and engage with it in your ministry. Normally, we direct you to short-form material. We know most of you have too many places to go to dedicate more than 5, maybe 10 minutes on a link.
But we hope that the arrival of summer, a COVID-19 summer nonetheless, means some time for books, longer videos, or full length podcasts. So this week we offer a collection of long-form resources clustered around a few themes.
Science as Vocation
Core work for the church is to help each and everyone one of us to see our professional lives as a vocation, or The Call as Os Guiness puts it. One of the ways we seek to strengthen churches is by helping them nurture a richer sense of vocation among scientists and STEM professionals. Fortunately, there are several guides, including ones that consider aspects unique to specific scientific disciplines. Perhaps more fun for a leisurely summer afternoon, there are many stories (in various formats) of scientists who can serve as exemplars for STEM professionals and the churches that support them.
- A Little Book for New Scientists is great for those early in their pursuit of science.
- The British organization Christians in Science has a vocation series broken down by discipline or read the “testimonies” at Called to Science (find them by discipline at the bottom of the home page).
- While not specifically Christian, E.O. Wilson’s Letters to a Young Scientist has inspired many.
- This issue of Christian History includes various examples of vocations in science like Robert Boyle.
- Check out the stories of scientists like Francis Collins, Sy Garte, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, and Br. Guy Consolmagno.
- Reread (or rewatch) Hidden Figures knowing that Dorothy Vaughan and Katherine Johnson were lifelong church-goers.
Character and Virtue
Do you think of science as a resource for discipleship? Or sanctification? One major area of psychological research is the study of character and virtue which helps us understand traits like gratitude, generosity, hope, and humility and how to cultivate them. Often labeled “positive psychology,” this is a rich area for engagement by the church, in as much as we seek to produce more grateful, generous, hopeful, and humble disciples.
- Two of the best books written for church leaders are Mark McMinn’s The Science of Virtue and Joanna Collicut’s The Psychology of Christian Character Formation.
- Christian psychologists like Everett Worthington on forgiveness and Robert Emmons on gratitude are leading researchers who want their work to help the church.
- Watch a wide-ranging conversation on humility with two Christian psychologists.
- This philosopher has worked extensively with psychologists and it bears fruit in The Character Gap.
- If you want to develop something on character for you church, try this eight-week small group course.
- Jonathan Haidt’s work is relevant here, both his well-known The Righteous Mind and his lesser known OpenMind Platform.
Evolution and Christian Faith
Bringing together evolutionary theory and Christian faith puzzles some and troubles others. There are many good resources—we recommend you start with one of the classics, Francis Collins’s The Language of God or Darrel Falk’s Coming to Peace—and we offer some additions below, both new and old.
- To learn some of the basic science, Dennis Venema’s series at BioLogos is an excellent place to start.
- Want to go beyond Standard Evolutionary Theory? Study up on the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis with theologically-informed resources like this article or these Gifford lectures.
- This TEDx talk by evangelical Christian, April Maskiewicz Cordero, addresses “the E word.”
- Joshua Swamidass’ book, The Genealogical Adam and Eve, has stirred up fruitful dialogues with Christian apologist William Lane Craig on the one hand and an atheist biologist on the other.
- Here is a recent collection of Christians reflecting on evolutionary science.
- Bible scholars are important partners here. We recommend John Walton for evangelicals, or William Brown for those in the mainline.
Oh the Places You’ll Go!
We had so much fun putting together this collection of resources that we’ll do it again next week—three more topical clusters of long-form resources to ensure you have plenty of places to go in this pandemic summer of 2020. Enjoy!
Oh, and now that we’ve told you about some of our favorite resources, we would love to hear from you. Simply hit reply and tell us which ones you found helpful or something that we missed.
Drew and Greg