Monday, June 26, 2017

Next Steps: How to Integrate Mere Christianity with Mainstream Science

In various posts, I've presented reasons why we need to bring science to church, why we need to integrate mere Christianity (to use C. S. Lewis's term) with mainstream science.

With this in mind, what do we do?

Francis Collins, after his talks, offers his audience copies of Mere Christianity. That’s one effective way to counter atheism. (And why not add N. T. Wright’s Simply Christian or Tim Keller’s The Reason for God?) 

But if that’s all I wrote, I suspect you might sense I’m passing the buck.
Ideally, in order to respond to these trends, we’d all have degrees in science, theology, philosophy, or all three. This, however represents an ideal and not the reality. Most of those who lead emerging adult ministries or simply care to talk with 18-30 year olds, will be learning science on the side or as a component of their wider ministry skills. We have to learn who the key influencers are, and to know what’s Top Ten Hits on the Science music list. Similarly, youth workers and theologians Andrew Root and Erik Leafblad advocate, “While it is unreasonable to become scientists, as youth workers we need to become knowledgeable about the ways in which science helps frame reality for our students.” Encouraging ministry leaders to read the New York Times “Science Times,” attend public lectures at their colleges, or read Best Science and Nature Writing.
Second, get to know the thought leaders and those who know about them. This is even more critical for college ministries, but also easier—get to know scientists in local congregations and those in university positions nearby. Attend a talk at a library, community center, or college nearby.
Finally, know where honest science finds its own limits (not where popularizers want to use science to promote their aims). Even more where it invites deeper wonder and worship. Science may just be playing the intro to a much broader song, even a symphony.
“Science can be one piece of a broader and ongoing invitation to wonder and adventure, as well as doubt and uncertainty in life with God.” Andrew Root and Erik Leafblad
In many cases, this evokes wonder and awe at the natural world God has created and lead to deeper worship. In others, this investigation of science leads to a realization that there are limits to scientific insight and discovery and faith and wonder in the God beyond the natural world is the only reasonable conclusion.
Only God is God, and his book of Scripture complements, but is certainly beyond the book of Nature. Blaise Pascal, who lived in the seventeenth century and contribution to the birth of modern science, knew the limits of scientific and philosophical reason:

"If we submit everything to reason our religion will be left with nothing mysterious or supernatural. If we offend the principles of reason our religion will be absurd and ridiculous . . . There are two equally dangerous extremes: to exclude reason, to admit nothing but reason." Blaise Pascal

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think having a well-balanced education is indeed extremely important. I'd love to have degrees in all 3.
That said, I have 40 years in reading the bible, an AS in Math, a BS in Physics, and am a Journeyman Sheet Metal Mechanic.
I.e., I started as a Jesus follower, in my late teens, served a union apprenticeship, became a journeyman, worked the trade, figuring I'd work a full career, and retire.
I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in my late 30's, was given the opportunity to return to college, so I studied what I wanted- math and physics, not knowingif I'd live long enough to benefit from it professionally.
14 years later, I'm still alive, and because of my studies, and application of those studies, my faith in Jesus, the bible, and God's Word is richer, and more vibrant than ever.
I'm quite confident that getting an education is very important, and beneficial to a vibrant, lively, and growing faith.
Not because the intellect is superior, but because a well-balanced education will provide you with the skills to solve problems, and ask questions, to understand the dynamic between blind faith, and genuine faith.