A weekly dose of science for the church
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Psychology can inform how we understand ourselves, how our minds work, how our emotions work, how our bodies work, and how our nervous system works. That doesn’t mean every pastor has to become a neuroscientist or a psychologist, but I think there’s so much great research on which to draw.
As I look at our previous newsletter article, it is clear that AI can effectively collect, organize, and present information in written form. However, in its current iteration, this technology cannot embody the elements that make for effective human communication and interaction. While ChatGPT suggested that the events surrounding Holy Week are a simple matter of religious belief and cultural significance, the truth is that they are far more than that.
In the spirit of true scientific inquiry, we’ve decided to use ChatGPT to write this week’s newsletter. So, here is the first installment of a two-part series, as we attempt using AI-driven tools to write about the implications of Jesus’ death.
Addie Weaver, assistant professor of social work at the University of Michigan, believes churches can be part of the solution to our mental health crisis. For her, the delivery of mental health care to underserved groups, particularly those in rural areas, is a justice issue.
Our human brains are made to grab onto knowledge that we can both apply in our lives and that is also efficacious—it makes a difference. It strikes me that too often when I’ve mentioned science and faith, people tell me, “That’s too heady for me,” which can mean that it seems abstract and academic, not related to the lives we actually live 24-7. Applicability and efficacy seemed like antidotes.
This has me conflicted about the conflict between science and religion. How do we extract it from our churches, especially those that witness the ways science works alongside the Christian faith? Will it go away if we focus on the cooperation and don’t give voice to the opposition? Or must we acknowledge the conflict and work to reframe it?
What is needed for the Standard Model to work is trust between church leaders and scientists and then between them as a group and the wider congregation. Building trust is hard in this day and age, but begin by sharing your love for Christ and for your church.
The Bible often talks about not primarily forging ahead but about “return” as the way to grasp real progress. We have to get back to God… Since tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, I’ve been wondering about what science and Scripture tell us about it means to turn around and make real progress.
While we tend to see love as an emotional imperative rooted in our human identity, science seems to pursue a logical argument to explain it away as a natural phenomenon stemming from biochemical processes in our brains. However, even as recent advances in cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, and neuroscience unravel human emotion’s complexities and provide a unique perspective into how we experience love, there is more to this equation.
Together, scripture and science, tell a remarkably similar story—despite all the difference and variation we see among humans—we share a common humanity. For science, it is known through our DNA. For faith, it comes from our unity in Christ and the image of God granted to each and every one us.
It is a simple story that binds us together in our common humanity. But do we really believe it?
Today, our digital technologies are discipling us in ways that outstrip what our churches are doing. Technology is outdoing the very Christian discipleship that so many of us long to engage. Each time we pick up the phone and text. It’s all those small things built into the way we relate with each other, the way we work, and the way we do church. It is a competition between the way technology forms us and the way disciples of Christ are formed.
When we become commodities ourselves, we lose touch with the personhood which is our intrinsic worth, our dignity. We also forget the value of each other and those relationships that have nothing to do with a transaction. This is built into our imago Dei. We are beings in the image of God.