Editor's Note: Below is one of the “highlight clips” from the plenary talks at our Christ and Creation conference last month in Houston, TX. This week’s clip is from a panel discussion featuring several members of the BioLogos team. Jim Stump, our senior editor, interviewed them about their stories and their perspectives on the reconciliation of science and Christian faith. In the clip below, program manager David Buller talks about the curiosity that led him to a career exploring the intersection of science and faith.
A friend of mine who went to the same church; he was the brother in law of a pastor, he and I were kind of the two people in church who absolutely loved science. While my path took me through college, seminary and now working at BioLogos, this friend of mine is now an atheist. I messaged him a few years ago and asked, “You know, we had such similar starting points. I’m just wondering how we ended up at such different ending points.”
It was the same sort of thing, curiosity, that he mentioned. He felt that in churches—sometimes he remembers even from a young age, that asking some kind of skeptical question about something he was being told, and being really discouraged from doing that. He saw the exact opposite in the scientific world--being curious and asking questions is rewarded. From his experience, Christianity discouraged curiosity and question asking, whereas you can’t do science without curiosity and question asking.
So this same kind of curiosity that can fuel both communities and should fuel both communities, was something that ended up being kind of a wedge between the two. But I think it's such a potential for common ground, too, because talking even sometimes with secular scientists as well, it strikes me so much that curiosity still is such a point of common ground.
And at the same time I’ve thought many times that one of the things that would be most unsatisfying to me about materialism or atheism would not be that it asks too many questions, but that it doesn’t ask enough questions. It asks questions only until you get to the threshold of the most interesting and important questions of all, then it says that those questions are nonsense or that they can only be answered if you are going to do it through science.
And I think perhaps one way of bridging or reaching out to those people that have had their curiosity pushed them away from the faith, is not to argue against their science, but to try to push the science as far as it can go and see what questions science can pose that point beyond science.
I think for me, that’s what lead me from wanting to be a research scientist to wanting to do some kind of work in the science and faith dialogue. It’s that curiosity that’s still with me, it’s changed the way I think of many things from how I grew up, but it’s really showed me how richly rewarding it can be to work and think about and pray about how we can fit the two together.