“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
– Dr. Seuss
We’re back with the second half of the summer reading list. And, as Dr. Seuss reminds us and as we wrapped up last week’s newsletter, books (and the like) transport us to exciting new places. This summer, many of us are going on fewer trips, and so let’s see where excellent reading in faith and science can take us.
Science and Race
For good reason, our country and our churches are, or will be, addressing race. As part of that journey, it’s important to note the relationship between race and science. To quote Wikipedia (which is surprisingly good here): “Modern scholarship regards race as a social construct, an identity which is assigned based on rules made by society. While partially based on physical similarities within groups, race does not have an inherent physical or biological meaning.” Nonetheless, science has had a significant part in uncovering America’s troubling history with race, and it can help us grasp the subtleties of racism within ourselves.
- It’s critical to grasp the history of race and science. Edwin Black’s War Against the Weak on the history of eugenics (covered recently) and Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Larson’s Sex, Race, and Science are both brilliant and worthy of your time.
- For more on history (but not specifically on science), listen to Mark Labberton’s conversation with Jemar Tisby, which evokes other thinkers like James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
- Jennifer Eberhardt’s Biased describes her important research on implicit bias and race, while anthropologist Agustin Fuentes and biologist Joseph Graves, Jr. debunk myths about race.
- Joshua Swamidass and his organization Peaceful Science are doing fascinating work on race in their blog, their YouTube Channel, and this program with National Public Radio.
Physics, Astrophysics, and Cosmology
While these fields include some committed atheists like Stephen Hawking and Sean Carroll, there is also notable open-mindedness among other leaders like Paul Davies, Marcelo Gleiser, Martin Rees, and Brian Greene. Add to the list physicists-turned-theologians, like John Polkinghorne and David Wilkinson, and the results demonstrate edifying connections between physics and faith.
Why? Physics gets at fundamental questions and, at the same time, inspires awe and wonder. Elegant equations like e=mc2 have powerful implications. The Hubble Space Telescope gives us images of God’s glorious universe. And the story of discovering the Higgs boson (“the God Particle”) help us feel beauty and awe. Want more? Here are a few suggestions.
- Krista Tippett’s interviews of Brian Greene, James Gates, and the Vatican’s astronomers are certainly worth a listen.
- Catholic Stephen Barr, agnostic Marcelo Gleiser, and Anglican John Polkinghorne all offer profound insights at the interface of physics and faith.
- Get a dose of awe with any number of World Science Festival programs, like this one on string theory or this one on nothingness.
- Let’s not forget Stephen Hawking—this conversation between Alister McGrath and physicist Roger Penrose about Hawking is fun.
- Finally, there’s also a penetrating theological assessment of Einstein’s physics by Alister McGrath. As Greg wrote in a Christianity Today review, “I was stunned by the breadth of knowledge on display.”
We already know from the early returns on our survey results that creation care is one of the most important topics in science and faith for you. How do we take seriously the stewardship of earth that God gives humankind in Genesis 1, especially in light of global climate change? In addition to what we’ve already written as well as a future series, we’ve got some excellent resources right now.
- A new gold standard is Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World, which includes (among other things, deep biblical insights), by Jonathan and Douglas Moo.
- Climate scientist and evangelical, Katharine Hayhoe, is a leading voice who winsomely combines robust scientific insights with concrete action steps. Try her book or her well-received TED talk.
- Calvin DeWitt’s Earthwise: A Guide for Hopeful Creation exhibits contagious joy as he encourages us to work together for good and live in harmony with the way God created our world.
- In a similar vein, Pope Francis’s Laudate Sí: On Care for Our Common Home sets caring for creation within a criticism of consumerism and irresponsible development and calls us to “swift and unified global action.”
Other Places You Can Go…
We’ll return to business as usual next week with links to easily digested, shorter-form content. We hope you find something from these two weeks to add to your summer reading and watching.
In the coming weeks and months, we’re building a library of website resources on these themes and many others. You’ve probably already seen what we have on COVID-19 and race. Over time, we’ll curate resources on additional themes (like evolution and creation, history and philosophy of science, and many more), as well as materials for a book group, a sermon, a small group, a Sunday school class, or simply to occupy your mind over the dog days of summer.
In a word, what we’ve done here is just a start. Oh, the places we will go!
Greg and Drew
P.S. You probably saw the survey we emailed recently. We wrap it up Friday, July 10, and we’d love to hear your ideas. It only takes a few minutes, and you might even win an Amazon gift card.