The Need for Christians in Science

Here are two great quotes from R. C. Sproul on Christians and science:

Christians Need Not Fear Scientific Inquiry
“There is a sense in which the Christian should be the most passionate scientist of all because he should be rigorously open to truth wherever it is found. He should not be afraid that a new discovery of something that is true will destroy his foundation for truth. If our foundation for truth is true, all other truth can only support it and enhance it. It can’t destroy it. Therefore, Christians ought not to be afraid of scientific inquiry. This does not mean that we should uncritically accept all pronouncements and pontifications of scientists. Scientists are fallible and may occasionally make arrogant statements that go far beyond the realm of their own expertise.”

Our Age Cries for Talented Christian Scientists!
“Our age cries for talented scientists who see the scientific inquiry as a true vocation and as a response to the mandate of God Himself. Rather than flee from the scientific enterprise or embrace intellectual schizophrenia which only destroys, Christians are needed by the thousands to venture into the realm of nature, armed with the knowledge of grace. We can show that a God who exists on the other side of the wall is concerned with life on this side of that wall.”

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  1. John W says:

    From the bits I have read, Christians only seem to need to fear each other where scientific inquiry is concerned. For example, I can site creation as an exmaple. Did we evolve or were we created in a single solar day? Is the earth 10M years old, or 6,000?

    It seems like anyone deviating from the literal interpretation of the Bible is a heretic and not really a True Believer. I find that sad because science is all about discovering new data and information to allow new theories and points of view to be developed. Surely We can do that within a framework of Faith that doesn’t force us to cleave to staunch fundamentalism. Open minded exploration of science is a huge leap of Faith because it means being challenged with details that might cause a person to reflect on their faith right down to its foundations. This scares a lot of people … and others find it stimulating.

    Science is a wonderful adventure. If anyone feels threatened about undermining God or Faith by pursuing science, take a look at all of the subatomic science that is being done. Every time we discover something smaller than the previous smallest thing (the Higgs Boson?), there is yet something smaller. God has made an infinite Russian Doll out of the atom. I find it amazing that the more empirically we attempt to prove the fundamental pieces of our scientific building blocks, we are trumped yet again.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    John – Sadly, I have seen it cut both ways. I have seen young-earth creationists brand old-earth creationists as heretics, but I have also seen old-earth creationists brand young-earth creationists as unsophisticated and naive. I believe both are wrong.

    And let’s not just pin it on the Christians. There are many non-believing scientists who criticize or mock believers without taking the time to understand their faith and why we come to the conclusions we do.

    I believe we should have an open mind concerning the age of the earth and extend grace to those who may interpret the Scriptures on this matter differently than we do. I favor an old-earth interpretation myself, but I always like to remind myself that I could be wrong.

  3. John W says:

    Ray – I have been working off and on to compose a reply, and I think it comes down to something more direct than the elaborate responses I’ve discarded.

    You are right about the need for open mindedness. That is a significant challenge for many because it means being willing to understand where one’s belief has been wrong or inaccurate in approach, but not in ultimate form (e.g,. that God created the Earth is not in question, but how long it took to happen might be).

    That open mindedness is what will help a Christian work through the challenges of the fact-based arena of science. It is practically necessary because it means becoming more objective in ways to approach science “purely” and being a good example of a Christian involved in the sciences.

    Something else we have not touched upon is ethics in science. That has been a favorite topic of mine because we easily focus on things like abortion and cloning, but don’t think about the daily ethical challenges (albeit subtle) of the chemical mixer or the computer programmer. Going into a less volatile, morally neutral ground makes for a very bland landscape to blend Faith and one’s profession.

  4. Ray Fowler says:

    John – Excellent points on the need for an open mind when working with the facts of science. I think that is part of what Sproul is saying in the post above. I also agree on the importance of ethics in all areas of science, not just the larger or more controversial areas. (But look for a post on stem cell research tomorrow!)

  5. John W says:

    Stem cell research? Going to probe the boundaries of controversy? 🙂

  6. Margaret says:

    I have enjoyed reading the comments by John W. and Ray on science and Christianity, and applaud both of them for being open-minded and willing to respect other people’s point of view.

    I have read some fascinating books on this subject. I am a Christian, with mostly fundamental views, and also feel strongly that God created this earth a very long time ago. Science certainly points to that, and many scientists who are sincere Christians have pointed out the facts. But I also have deep respect for those who believe in the young earth.

    In our own family there are those with views very different from each other. I respect their views and love them all.

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