A weekly dose of science for the church
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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.
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 means some time for books, longer videos, or full length podcasts.
science informs our prayers of confession. Whether it is our selfish nature that compels us to prioritize ourselves and our families, or the study of various neuroses, or understanding how our emotions get the best of us, science has a lot to say about sin.
Over the past three years, I thought I was researching science and religion in America. I thought the outcome would be uncovering new insights and then write an academic book to contribute the body of knowledge. Along the way, I found a history of racism expressed, intensified, and even weaponized, through science.
All Christians, including high school students, are capable of being and becoming science-informed theologians through reflecting on their experiences with God in their own lives and engaging in conversation with scripture, reason, and the people and traditions within their faith communities.
One of my convictions, learned over decades of working in this niche, is that both Christian faith and modern science have much to contribute to most pressing issues of our day, including race.
Scripture and science agree: It is not good for us to be alone. Researchers have certainly pursued the connection between technology and well-being. But now our COVID-19 world is involved in a literally global experiment: because of social distancing, our relationships are not primarily direct and in-person… How is that experiment going? What are we learning about our inherent drive to be with others and what this drive means when it’s channeled through technology?
I desperately wanted to pursue a life of science, but thought that I couldn’t because of my faith.
When church becomes the one place that’s either silent or hostile about science, young people learn the implicit lesson that it’s not just the church that can’t handle their tough questions. God can’t either. The way we interact with science provides young people with a template for how God views science. So we have an opportunity. In our engagement with science, will we lean in and lead or lose out and be led?
When they engaged science early, youth demonstrated a deeper, more resilient faith—a faith they could lean on as they matured and moved on from our congregations. Isn’t that exactly what we want for them?
At Pentecost, the Spirit gave the church two fluencies. The first is in the fundamentals of the Good News about God’s work in Jesus Christ… the Spirit’s strategy is also for the church to speak to various people in their own “mother tongues.” The focus of this newsletter is on that second fluency with a particular accent: speaking the languages of technology and science.
We’re taking a break from our usual newsletter format to interview a Christian leader in the sciences. Ben McFarland is Professor of Biochemistry at Seattle Pacific University, where he studies structural aspects of protein biochemistry and design. Dr. McFarland wrote A World from Dust: How the Periodic Table Shaped Life (Oxford, 2016). I caught up with Ben and posed few questions about his role as a scientist in the church, as well as the coronavirus outbreak.