Evangelicals Navigating Science

November 26th, 2009 / 6 Comments

Prominent Evangelical Christians are working together to reconcile apparent differences between science and religion. A recent workshop of such Christians in which I participated agreed to the following statement:

Many voices in our current culture assert that there are irreconcilable conflicts between science and faith in Christ. We, the undersigned Christian pastors, theologians, scientists, and other scholars, respectfully disagree. We have learned much from each other during these days of communal prayer, presentation, discussion, and worship, but we also recognize that we have much more to learn and many others from whom to learn. We affirm that the truths of Scripture and the truths of nature both have their origins in God, and that further exploration of all these truths can enrich our joyful and worshipful appreciation of the Creator’s love, goodness, and grace. We commit to exploring these important issues further.

I joined 46 others who attended a November 2009 workshop in NYC in signing this statement.

The Biologos foundation deserves credit for bringing this group together. The principal leaders are Karl Giberson, Darrel Falk, Syman Stevens, and Francis Collins. The foundation promotes the search for truth in both the natural and spiritual realms and seeks harmony between these different perspectives.

I am encouraged by the possibilities that lay before this group.  I hope we can break new ground exploring scientific issues such as Big Bang theory, evolution, stem-cell research, and health care issues.  I also hope we will explore relevant theological issues, such as how God acts in the world, creation/redemption, miracles, biblical interpretation, and the central issues of Christian love.

Perhaps this group will discover new ways to unite “the two so long disjoined: knowledge and vital piety” (Charles Wesley).

 

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Curtis

The relationship of faith and science is one that has fascinated me for some time now. When I was first hired at my school in 1999 I had a bit of spare time (it was a part-time gig at first) so I took a class at the State university called “Creation/Evolution.” The class covered the basic sciences and philosophies of Creationists and Evolutionists. The last part of the class explored those who have worked to allow these two worldviews to be, at the very least, dialogue partners. The class was taught by a Christian Biological Chemist and an agnostic philosopher of science. Brilliant combination! This class sparked a deep interest in the dialogue. I have been honored to serve as a guest lecturer every semester since. 

I am impressed by the list of names on the document. And a bit surprised by a few. I hope the foundation succeeds in promoting real science in the Church. I am still amazed at what many people believe scientists actually teach and what they fear about the theology of evolution. Who knows, maybe one day I will actually be able to say in class I affirm modern science.

Keep up the good work.


Derek Malone-France

This is a terrific project and an impressive group (and a great website you have put together here), Tom.  Thanks for calling it to our attention.

Though I don’t focus specifically on the intersection of religion and evolutionary science in my own teaching and research, I have been using A. N. Whitehead’s _Religion in the Making_ in my undergraduate class on philosophy of religion over the last few years, and I am always struck by how engaged the students (at an utterly secular, urban, private research university) are by Whitehead’s combination of a foundational philosophical commitment to theism with an evolutionary-anthropological account of religion.  And they are, I think, equally attracted to Whitehead’s revision of some central aspects of the traditional description of God in philosophical theology and to his revision of some of the materialistic-reductivistic assumptions regarding “nature” that have distorted modern meta-scientific theory.

If my students are any indication, there is a real hunger for the kind of dialogue you are promoting here, a hunger that pervades well beyond the evangelical community and that is much more complex than just a desire for theology to get out of the way of science.  People also want science to better appreciate the limits of its purview and acknowledge the value of other modes of thought.

Do keep us updated on your continuing work in this regard.  Best, Derek.


Thomas Jay Oord

Curtis and Derek,

Thanks for the notes.  I used to think the science and religion dialogue was kind of a side issue. I thought it was mostly for people with too much time on their hands and too many questions to answer.

Now I think the science and religion dialogue is so important that I can’t think of any important issue that is uninfluenced by it.  If “science” stands for all we know or want to know about existence and “religion” stands for our hopes, dreams, obligations, God, and the quest for the good life, it’s hard to think of anything else that matters!

I’ll keep you posted from time to time on how this group develops and the topics it tackles…

Tom


Curtis

Tom, I really like the way you break down these two topics: science as knowledge of the world and religion as hopes and obligations…etc. Nicely said.


Paul Allen

Hi Tom,

This is very good. I applaud the Biologos effort, and I wonder whether some similar effort is necessary for Catholic scholars. At the very leas, I believe the energy that lies behind this statement and similar efforts in the evangelical world could be replicated in the world of Catholic scholarship, partly because Catholic scientists are all over the map on science-theology issues.


Nathan Dupper

I like this statement a lot. I think it is good to step out and display your opinion in a world that mostly disagrees. This will be good both for the secular world and the church. So often it seems that the church does not even try to defend their beliefs, especially in the realm of science. This is a good way to take the lead and show some initiative to the rest of the Christian community.


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