Ellen, a sophomore taking my chemistry course, was standing at my office door. “Professor Vosburg,” she said, “I saw your blog posts on science and Christianity. Can we talk about them?” That began a series of conversations with Ellen about faith. Then one of Ellen’s friends started meeting with her to guide her in looking more closely at the Bible. Seven months later, Ellen accepted Jesus.
Sam was also a college sophomore, and he attended a lecture I gave on science and Christianity. He was shocked to learn that scientists could be Christians and that some of them were actually people he knew! He was already committed to become a scientist. But once he realized that scientists could embrace faith and follow Jesus, he reconsidered his atheism. After several talks with me, Sam joined a dorm Bible study for seekers. A year later, he became a Christian and was baptized on Easter Sunday.
Both Ellen and Sam thought that one couldn’t believe in Jesus and science at the same time. When they heard otherwise, they wanted to see what the Bible really said, to explore ideas with peers, and to see what options were open to them. Many Christians today feel the same. I remember avoiding biology classes in college, in part because of a fear that they would undermine my faith. As I continued in my chemistry career, I finally had to face the questions that science raised about my faith. Once I did, I found that science and faith were not actually in conflict like I had feared. Rather the more I understood science, the more I was drawn into worship.
Exploring and understanding the relationship between faith and science is very important for prospective scientists like Ellen and Sam, who thought Christianity and science were incompatible. It is also important for Christians who might disengage from these conversations out of fear that science might undermine their faith. Such avoidance can lead to false impressions of the incompatibility of science and faith that can be so off-putting to non-Christians.
How can Christians and non-Christians engage with faith and science productively? We must have honest dialogue and truly listen to others—even when we disagree with their views. My wife, Kate, and I—a campus pastor and a chemistry professor—hope Jesus, Beginnings, and Science (available at Amazon and Pier Press) will catalyze good and healthy conversations for both believers and seekers.
To spark such discussions, we wrote a guide to help groups examine a series of passages from Scripture that offer perspectives on God’s creation, human origins, and science. Some of these passages are poetic while some have more of a narrative structure. Many describe God’s majesty and inspire us with wonder and awe. Alongside the Bible studies, the sessions invite participants to engage common questions about the Bible and science. At the end of the guide, discussion leaders and others who wish to explore topics more deeply will find notes and suggested additional resources. This guide is appropriate for use in existing small groups or for new groups gathered specifically to discuss the Bible and science.
A unique feature of our book is that it starts with Jesus rather than Genesis. John 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1 all speak to Jesus’ role in both creating and sustaining the universe. This approach offers an easy entry point for many Christians to engage the intersection of faith and science. Excerpts from Psalms, Job, Isaiah, Ecclesiastes, Genesis, and Revelation are among the other passages included in the guide.
I wish I had been able to have good, healthy conversations about the integration of science and Christianity when I was in college. Finding such dialogue has been life-giving to me. It has increased my awe of God’s creation and brought a deeper resonance between my faith in Jesus and my appreciation for science. I hope this discussion guide stimulates many mature, gracious conversations that lessen our fears and bring us into greater dialogue and confidence in our faith.