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Worshipping God with Science: The Test of FAITH Tour

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September 26, 2011 Tags: Science as Christian Calling

Today's entry was written by Ruth Bancewicz. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of BioLogos. You can read more about what we believe here.

This summer I gave a series of talks at several youth festivals on the subject of ‘Why a Christian should be a scientist’. As someone who spends every day interacting with Christians working in science, I have no shortage of material to present on the topic, and it’s exciting to see the reactions of these young people when they are encouraged that science is a great career for a Christian.

The primary reason why a Christian should consider science as a career is because it offers unique opportunities to worship God. Exploring God’s creation, uncovering its secrets and marvelling at the vastness and intricacy of the universe is never a waste of time, and from the Psalms onwards, scientific information has informed the writers of worship songs. If worship is the chief end of man, then the further we explore using the tools of science the better.

The Test of FAITH documentary and study materials were developed at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion to meet a demand from church leaders, student ministries and scientists for resources to help people understand and explore the relationship between science and faith. They profile a number of senior scientists who are also Christians. The names will be familiar – they include Francis Collins, Ard Louis, Deborah Haarsma, Rosalind Picard, John Polkinghorne, Jennifer Wiseman, Bill Newsome, Denis Alexander, Simon Conway Morris, John Houghton, and Alister McGrath.

Among the topics covered by these study materials are astronomy, the Big Bang, the creation of life on earth, the environment, bioethics and the brain. They were developed with an ethos that, where controversial issues are concerned, people should have the opportunity to consider different sides of the debate, explore the Bible, and make up their own minds.

At the deepest level, the debate between science and religion is really a debate about how do I obtain reliable knowledge about the world? How do I know that something is true, or how do I know that something is false, or how do I know that something is reliable, something is unreliable, and that’s a terribly important question.

-Dr Ard Louis, Oxford University, in "Test of FAITH"

Test of FAITH demonstrates that being a Christian and a scientist need not result in endless personal conflict. Of course there are difficult issues at times, but worshipping God through science, living a Christian life in the lab, and playing a part in developing new technologies are all satisfying ways of serving God.

I think it’s exciting as Christians to go exploring, because we’re never going to find anything that’s outside of God’s realm. Everything is part of this majestic creation, and the more you discover, the more amazed you get by thinking about God, and so I think exploration is a divinely Christian activity and people should be excited about it.

-Dr Jennifer Wiseman, Astronomer & Author, in "Test of FAITH"

Dr Alasdair Coles is a neurologist at Cambridge University. He was drawn to neurology as a teenager when he saw the potential to help patients understand their disease by simply talking to them and making a series of clinical deductions. He is now involved in developing drugs to treat multiple sclerosis. Interestingly, Coles has recently been ordained in the Church of England, and has gained unique insights from being part of both of these worlds.

For me theology and science, and neuroscience, are going to achieve little unless they start talking to each other. There are fresh insights that theology has for science, and vice versa. And the great theological truths that humans are unique, that we are in some way god-like, that we are the only beasts that are moral, these are things that scientists have to somehow conjure with and study.

-Revd Dr Alasdair Coles, Cambridge University, in "Test of FAITH"

Rosalind Picard is a Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, and has pioneered the field of emotive computing – developing computers that interpret and respond to human emotion. She has used her expertise to develop technology that helps autistic people to interact socially. Her explanations of how she, as an analytical scientific person, approaches faith are extremely helpful for those who are trying to figure out how science and faith relate.

As I’ve learned more, my scientific method has informed my faith because I’m very analytical, and I question things constantly. You have to be careful as a scientist, however, that you don’t fall into the trap that a lot of atheists fall into. They just assume that God must be provable or disprovable by science. In fact some of them assume that the only things that are true are things science shows. Ironically what they are doing is claiming (dogmatically) that they have the only way to truth: science. But science, within itself, cannot prove the correctness of its own methods. It cannot prove its claim to be the only way to know truth. Science cannot prove most events of history but does that mean they did not happen? To believe that God is explainable by science is to completely mischaracterize God.

-Dr Rosalind Picard, MIT, in "Test of Faith: Spiritual Journeys with Scientists"

Test of FAITH will be presented at a series of events across the US this Fall. A film showing will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A. Locations include Cambridge, MA; Wheaton, IL; Fairfax, VA; St Paul, MN; and San Diego, CA. Details can be found here. Our aim is to equip people to start the conversation, and help them to grow in their relationship with God.

There are ways of finding truth. You can read the book of the Bible, you can read the book of nature and you can find truth in both ways. You need to be careful of course about what kind of question you’re asking, and which tools are appropriate for that question, but to be able to be a fully formed human being, it seems to me, to put either of those kinds of investigations off to the side and say, ‘That’s inappropriate,’ or, ‘That’s dangerous,’ is to be impoverished, to miss out on the experience of what one can do on this brief glimpse of time while we’re living here on this amazing planet, having the chance to search in all kinds of directions for the truth.

-Dr Francis Collins, Former Director of the Human Genome Project. In "Test of FAITH"

Ruth Bancewicz is a Senior Research Associate at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Cambridge (UK), where she currently works on positive expressions of the science-faith dialogue. Ruth studied genetics at Aberdeen University, and completed a PhD at Edinburgh University. She then spent two years as a part-time postdoctoral researcher at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, Edinburgh University, while also working as the Development Officer for Christians in Science. She moved to the Faraday Institute in 2006 to develop resources on Science and Christianity – a project that generated the Test of FAITH materials, the first of which were published in 2009. Ruth blogs at Science and Belief, and her latest book, God in the Lab: How Science Enhances Faith will be published by Monarch in January 2015.

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Dancing From Genesis - #65020

September 26th 2011

Old earth creationists need to tell us where in the Genesis account was actual history begun to be recorded, for since not at Noah’s Flood (they say it was a local flood, oh brother!), then where, with Japheth, Shem, and Ham, with Abraham, with Moses, where?

KevinR - #65073

September 27th 2011

According to theistic evolutionists, it’s a scientific FACT that evolution is true. It’s also a scientific FACT that the earth is billions of years old and hence one can discard the statements in the bible where it claims the earth and everything in/on/under it was created in six days.

It is also a scientific fact that donkeys do not talk in common human understandable language. Fact. Period.

It’s a fact that no one can turn water into wine - at least not instantaneously and without elaborate intervention.

It’s a scientific fact that one cannot walk on water. If you don’t believe that, please fill a bath with water and stand on the surface without sinking to the bottom.

It’s a scientific fact that no one rises from the dead. If you disagree, please produce supporting evidence. Do not quote the bible since it is not a scientific literary instrument.

So the question then arises: Just which parts of the bible does a theistic evolutionist choose to accept as scientific FACT and which does s/he reject as myth/allegory/poetry?

Does that not sound remarkably like someone making up his/her own religion?

Dancing From Genesis - #65075

September 27th 2011

Darwinian evolution, which you clearly espouse, is patently absurd, for even Darwin’s cornerstone term species has absolutely no classification value, just google search, syngameons species genesis, for the real story.

Because the geologic column of vast sedimentary layers manifests the results of flooding (sedimentary means laid down in water), and because the radioisotopie dating methods are contingent upon unknowable and often demonstrably flawed assumptions (see http://globalflood.org), the evidence overwhelmingly comports with Noah’s Flood and and young earth which the Word (Jesus) describes as real history.

These are scientific facts, the only miracle here is that professing christians would deny the clear history in Genesis when there is no scientific reason to do so.  Intimidation by the darwinian community causes many to wilt like dried up roses, the people perish for lack of knowledge the Word says, so you should go drink some water, the Living Water of the Word. 

Dancing From Genesis - #65077

September 27th 2011

I see your point now, if Genesis is not real history written, then why is not the rest of the Bible also not real history written?  Agreed. 

Often that is said it this way, if skeptics can’t trust Genesis as real history, then why should they trust the rest of the Bible as real history, since all of the Bible is claimed to be the Word of God? 

Peter Hickman - #65109

September 27th 2011

Apparently the claim that the Bible is the inerrant word of God is not subject to the same requirements or standards of evidence that are insisted on for other claims.

Dancing From Genesis - #65110

September 27th 2011

There is ample evidence that all of Genesis is real history, seek and ye shall find.

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