We’re ending the year by highlighting the 2022 newsletters that you liked best.
In March, Drew moved us beyond a simple two-way conversation of science and faith and added a third element: culture. Indeed, nature and culture interweave. Or in the words of Princeton anthropologist Agustin Fuentes, “Humans are not hardwired with a specific culture. We are ‘wired’ to coacquire and develop such structures across the lifespan” (Why We Believe, and here is a nice overview of some key ideas in the book.)
Drew reminded us that “our brains form in specific environments and cultural contexts that literally shape our neurobiology.” And then he takes it home: “We need God’s grace in order to create church cultures that are good and acceptable and perfect in God’s eyes. We need Christ-like beliefs and behaviors to be intrinsic to the culture that becomes our anatomy. Then, and only then, can the church be a place that truly forms disciples of Christ.”
Later in the year (namely October), Ed addressed the ethical implication of artificial intelligence in a fresh and provocative way. He pointed to Ross Dawson, author and futurist, who writes about the implications of AI for the trucking industry, one of which is the displacement of vulnerable workers and the loss of jobs.
Since Ed summarizes the implications so well, I’ll leave it to his words: “The biblical writer challenges us to live in a way that God’s love increases and is shared with those who need it the most (1 Thessalonians 3:12). As I think about the far-reaching implications of these remarkable advancements, I could not help but think how the advent of new technologies will impact vulnerable and at-risk communities. Think about how AI-dependent grocery stores will affect the service industry by eliminating cashiers and other supporting personnel. Or how customer service is becoming increasingly dependent on AI technology. I don’t even want to think about how AI will transform healthcare and how these advancements will alienate those on the margins.”
- We have been a ministry of the amazing Christian study center Upper House, and now we are heading out as our own nonprofit (that is, a 501c3). Would you celebrate by giving an end-of-the-year gift?
- This year featured a new offering, our first devotional on science and faith from biologist Ciara Reyes-Ton, Look Closely, with graphic design by Ned Bustard.
- We also saw the release of our core product, The Standard Model in Spanish and English.
- Coming in the next few days is Greg’s new book, Science and Religions in America: A New Look (currently 20 percent off), and he’d be happy to talk with you about using it in your church.
In this one (from October), I asked us to do some soul searching about how seriously we actually engage in science as the church. I started with what I do for my day job: “Each year I read my students’ essays, which comprise around a million words in total (i.e., it’s a fairly large sample size). There’s a common thread: it’s impossible to believe in a Creator God and modern science. ‘We know the Big Bang is how this universe exists. It’s not God.’ Or, ‘It’s either the Bible or evolution.’”
I leaned on a friend—and SftC advisor—the leading sociologist of science and religion Elaine Howard Ecklund, who summarized from her extensive social scientific research: “Contrary to perceptions of inherent conflict between religion and science, the majority of every religious group I studied view science and religion as either independent of each other or actually in collaboration with one another.” (I interviewed Elaine on her research in a two-part podcast (one and two) as part of my series, Science and Religion for the Open-Minded).
Did I mention that many of us, including my students, find the relationship of evolution and creation a problem? November found me interviewing biologist April Cordero, an SftC advisor, and theologian Telford Work on their new book What About Evolution? (They are joined by a third author, the pastor and theologian, Douglas Estes. By the way, there’s also a lot more in the video of our full conversation. Another key resource, from a different angle, that connects evolutionary psychology and Christian faith is Thriving with Stone Age Minds, and there’s a video of my interview with co-author Pamela Ebstyne King.)
Telford offered this poignant summary, “More than anything, I want [our readers] to know that evolution doesn’t threaten the Bible as inspired or true. We don’t need to put them in opposition to each other. That leads to more shipwrecked faith. This book is intended to help avoid it.”
Let me highlight one last thing from 2022: All of us at Science for the Church thank you. And our prayer is that the God of creation and redemption, the God of science and Scripture, will bless your 2023.
Greg, Drew, Ed, Heather, and Dave