Science and the Sacred

Science and the Sacred


BioLoguration

posted by fcollins

It happened again this week.  I received an e-mail from a student at a major university
who is in the midst of a profound personal crisis.  Was this a financial problem?  A failure in course work that threatens a lifelong career
dream?  A romantic breakup?   No doubt there are plenty of
those kinds of crises happening all over college campuses.  But none of those accounted for her
distress.  Instead, my
correspondent was having a wrenching crisis of worldviews, and her deepest
foundations were being shaken.

She had been home-schooled by loving parents who were
dedicated Christians, and who made sure that she learned the deep and profound
principles of their faith.  She
made a personal commitment to that faith as a teenager, and her relationship
with Christ was a central part of her life.  She arrived at university fully aware that this secular
environment might threaten her faith, but she quickly found other believers to
share experiences with, and she learned to love the undergraduate experience.

That is, until she decided to major in biology.  For the first time, she had the chance
to see the scientific evidence for the actual age of the earth (4.55 billion
years) and the theory of evolution. 
Like 45% of Americans, she had based her previous conclusions on an
ultraliteral reading of Genesis promoted in many conservative churches – that
the earth is less than 10,000 years old, and that all species of animals and
plants came into being by individual acts of special creation by God.   But with gathering alarm, she
could see that a veritable mountain of data from physics, cosmology, chemistry,
geology, paleontology, biology and genomics made that interpretation of Genesis
no longer tenable.  She tried to
think of ways that the scientific evidence could have been misunderstood, or
even (as she had heard from some Christian friends) that there was a widespread
scientific conspiracy to promote these false ideas, but she could not see how
to dismiss the massive weight of evidence.  She sought guidance from her professor, but he made no
secret of the fact that he thought religion was a waste of time.  The ice was cracking under her
feet.  If her spiritual mentors had
been wrong about origins, might they have been wrong about other things?  Was faith just an illusion?  Was God really out there?

She is not alone. 
Over the last three years since my book The Language of God was published, I have heard from dozens of
individuals experiencing this same crisis.  I have tried to provide reassurance, based on my own path
from atheism to belief, and my own experience as a physician, geneticist, and
Christian, that science and faith are entirely compatible.   We humans have the privilege of
discerning the truth from both of
God’s books – the book of God’s words (the scriptures) and the book of God’s
works (nature).  But when the Bible
is read as a scientific textbook, or when scientific findings are taken to
prove or disprove certain spiritual conclusions, trouble ensues. 

It is a sad reality that this kind of misunderstanding has
led to an increasingly hostile battle of worldviews, especially in the United
States.  The conversation is
particularly dominated by those at the extremes of the spectrum.  Some of those are religious fundamentalists.  Some are scientific
fundamentalists.  This contentious
atmosphere has often discouraged a more deep and meaningful dialogue.  And the battle is having a lot of
innocent casualties, like my college correspondent.

The voice that is not being heard is one that strives for
theological and scientific rigor, that takes seriously the claims of both
theism and science, and that finds compelling evidence for their
compatibility.  To try to fill that
void, my colleagues Darrel Falk (Ph.D., biology), Karl Giberson (Ph.D.,
physics), Syman Stevens (M.A., philosophy), and I have founded the non-profit
BioLogos Foundation.  The word
BioLogos arises by combining the Greek words Bios (life) and Logos (the Word),
reflecting our conviction that the universe, and the life within it, can be
understood as a manifestation of God’s creative purpose.  

We are delighted and honored to have been asked by Steve
Waldman to host this new Beliefnet blog on Science
and the Sacred
.  Today’s
inaugural entry could thus be considered our “BioLoguration”.  New entries will appear weekly, penned
by one of us, or by guest bloggers that will offer new and refreshing insights
on the interface between science and faith.  We encourage responses (but let’s keep it civil,
please!).  We will also aim to post
daily images, quotes, and prayers on this same site.

We would like to point interested readers to a new web
site: www.biologos.org, also being
unveiled on April 28, 2009, which contains many more resources for those interested
in this topic.  That includes  thoughtful responses to more than two
dozen of the most frequently asked questions about science and faith – as posed
by atheists, agnostics, skeptics, seekers, and believers in the more than 1000
e-mails and letters I have received since The
Language of God
was published.

My college correspondent is still searching for the
truth, but she was reassured to know that it is possible to embrace both
science and faith, without having your brain explode.  I hope these new resources will help her.  I hope they will help you also.  Join us here and at www.biologos.org  for a chance to explore some profound questions about science
and the sacred.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

Former Director, Human Genome Project

logotype_with_dove.jpg


Share
|





Advertisement
Comments read comments(17)
post a comment
steve Martin

posted April 29, 2009 at 7:12 am


Excellent! This is a resource that is long overdue. Thanks for the work you’ve put into this.
Two questions:
1) Is this the initiative that Darrel hinted at in his late 2007 ASA lecture “Bridging the Worlds of Faith and Biology”?
2) Any chance on getting a couple of good biblical studies scholars & theologians to join your team? My take is that whereas the discussion among evangelical scientists is relatively mature (ie. most agree that biological evolution is the best explanation for the development of life on earth), the discussion among biblical scholars is just beginning. As to Evangelical theologians, do they even realize that there is a discussion?



report abuse
 

dopderbeck

posted April 29, 2009 at 11:47 am


As an evangelical law professor who works on the intersection of law, technology and science, and as one who has experienced some of the same crises about the relation of faith and the sciences, I heartily and happily welcome this initiative. And, I second my friend Steve Martin’s suggestion and hope that you can involve evangelical biblical scholars and theologians in your discussion. As you know, while faith and science may generally be compatible, it’s difficult to sustain and identity as an evangelical Christian who accepts the findings of the natural sciences, because of evangelicalism’s particular approaches to scripture and epistemology. Anyway, three cheers and many blessings.



report abuse
 

Laura

posted April 29, 2009 at 8:11 pm


As a biological science major turned theologian (though still slightly wet behind the ears), I am very glad to see this site. Kudos to you all for opening a portal for such dialogue. I will also add my voice to that of Steve Martin and dopderbek and suggest and hope for the involvement of “evangelical biblical scholars and theologians in your discussion.”
I look forward to the continuing conversation.



report abuse
 

Beaglelady

posted April 29, 2009 at 11:16 pm


I am overjoyed to see the launch of http://www.biologos.org and this blog. We desperately need to hear from committed Christians who are also respected, mainstream scientists. You have made a great start; God bless you, and keep up the good work.



report abuse
 

PDS

posted April 30, 2009 at 9:13 am


peelingdragonskin.wordpress.com
This will be interesting to follow. Will you be engaging in discussions in the Comments area?



report abuse
 

phil_style

posted April 30, 2009 at 9:29 am


I’m a dual science (environmental) and commerce grad with a keen interest in faith & theology. It’s great to see these kinds of resources becomeing more widespread. Also great to see a few familiar monikers from elsewhere in the theological blogsphere (Dopderbeck, Steve).



report abuse
 

Paul

posted April 30, 2009 at 9:45 am


Welcome to the blogosphere! No doubt the interchange here will prove fruitful for all and promote the integration of faith and science with a more rigorous and compatible worldview.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 30, 2009 at 10:17 am


as an 8th & 9th grade teacher in a Christian School, I am encouraged by your desires to bring a bridge between science and evangelicals.
two days ago I was teaching our 8th graders that God created everything in this world, and that this is a core bleief in Christianity. I then proceded to teach them that HOW everything was created is open to interpretation and disagreement.
the very reason I am teaching this is that I desire our students to never have to experience a crisis of faith as described above. the college student you described should be having a crisis of science, but not of faith.
i am definitely a minority in my school in my beliefs, but I think it is an important concept to convey to students that it is ok to believe different ways of creation and still be a true follower of Jesus



report abuse
 

Pat Cooper

posted May 1, 2009 at 6:29 am


This is wonderful! Do we not realize that the greatest Scientist, created the Universe!
We should not be afraid of Science nor creation. We read in the Scriptures, that God created the Heavens and the Earth,period. Those that have been gifted to truly study the Sciences, and not give their opinion about the existence of God, only enhance our belief in the existence of a Creator. Do we not see the hand of God, when the pictures come back from the Hubble spacecraft? Doe we not see it when we are shown pictures of the Nebullas out there, in their photos of Saturn…what we see, is God in action, We should not argue whether it was 10,000 years, a billion years , nor a day…The Earth and the Universe is here and it is beautiful!!! The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein…I do not know all the scientific ins and outs, that’s for those who have that type of knowledge but I do know who put it all here and that is all I know. Let those who want to battle it out do so, I am going to enjoy the Science and the Word!



report abuse
 

Dan Plants

posted May 1, 2009 at 9:12 am


I believe that faith is simple,too simple for the complexed minds.Like the word says,God uses simple things to confound the wise.If I were able to even entertain the idea of evolution,I would still be convinced that God is in control of the evolution process.The problem with unbeliever’s obviously is that they are not seeking the Lord.Like the word says,if ye seek,ye shall find.If ye don’t seek,ye shall not find.It just seems too simple for the worldly educated minds to conceive,that if they actually set out to find him(God),that they just might find him.God bless!
Dan Plants



report abuse
 

Denise

posted May 1, 2009 at 12:38 pm


I am a devout Christian that love to search out truth. I have found it to be in the Word of God. As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 1 (NIV), “There is nothing new under the heavens.” It is God that made the mysteries of the earth and set its foundations. God conceals a matter and it is for man to search it out.
Read Eccl. 12:9-14 (The Conclusion of the Matter)
The Preacher was inspired by God Himself!



report abuse
 

GregB

posted May 1, 2009 at 1:11 pm


I understand many of the conflicts of “FAITH and SCIENCE” as I started my personal development in a seminary. When the door of science was revealed to me, I walked through it with not so much trepidation, but with a sense of security that now I could better manage what was tangible. In other words, my “faith and science” melded to allow me to see and comprehend more. My emphasis is chemical engineering; biomolecular virology; surgery and pathology. For many years, I promoted biotechnology in the academic centers on the entire West Coast from Seattle to San Diego. There is a developing cycle of faith and science which has come to the fore front that does tend to polarize. The frustrum determining the balance is scepticism and at worst it is cynicism. Tell me more about BIOLOGOS



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted May 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm


CONGRATULATIONS,THIS IS A GRATE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE EXERCISE OUR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION THIS SITE WILL HELP DISOLVING THE CLAUDS OF IGNORANCE AND ITS CONSECUENCE RESISTANCE TO THE TRUTH ( THE WORD ). IN MY PERSONAL OPINION I BELIEVE DEEP IN MY INNER BEIGN THAT SCIENCE AND FAITH ARE THE AXIOM (A)OF THE UNIVERSE WE DON,T HAVE TO STRUGLE WITH SCIENCE TO BELIEVE IN THE EVIDENT MATHEMATICAL SCENARIO EXPRESION OF A SUPRA,SUPERIOR,HIGHER BEIGN CALLED “GOD”. HE HAS EXPRESSED HIMSELF AND HAS SPOKEN HIS LAST WORD TO THE WORLD :”JESUS” :HEBREW 1:1-3. ALL THE KNOWLEDGED OF SCIENCE WE HAVE REACH WAS REVEALED BY HIM :”PSALM 94:10. EVEN THOSE THAT HAVE REJECTED HIM ,WHAT THEY KNOW HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO THEM BY HIM. AND THEY KNOW IT. WE HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO KNOW THINGS THAT THE HUMAN BEIGN HAVE NOT REACH YET,’COUSE THE INNER RESISTANCE THAT CLOUD IN US THE SPLENDOR AND INFINITE WISDOM THAT WE SHOULD HAVE IF IT WASN’T FOR THE “SIN” THAT INDWEL IN US ALL ( ROM. 3:23 ). BUT THERE IS HOPE , LIVING HOPE IN THE SON OF THE EVER ETERNAL LIVING GOD :JESUS .AND THE PROMISE IS FOR THOSE WHO LOVE AND OBEY HIM :( 1A COR. 2:9 ). WE HAVE NOT SEEN ,WE DO NOT KNOW NOTHING YET. IN THE NEW WORLD TO COME WE ARE GOING TO LIVE FROM MARVEL TO MARVEL AND NOTHING THAT WE SHOULD GO THROUG FROM ONE SEGMENT OF ETERNITY TO OTHER WILL BE EQUAL OR COMPARE TO OTHERS. THIS IS THE GOD THAT WE SHOULD LOVE , BELIEVE ADORE AND PRAISE.! TO HIM BE THE GLORY, THE HONOR IN THE MAGESTY FOR EVER AND EVER! WE SHOULD TAKE HEED! WE HAVE THE GREAT PRIVILEGE OF LIVING THE “END OF TIME” DANIEL 12 (“SCIENCE SHALL BE AUGMENTED”) ISN’T IT ONE OF THE LAST SIGNAL? MY APPRECIATION FOR THIS FORUM! THANK YOU AND MARANATHA! JAIME ( FLORIDA)



report abuse
 

Karen

posted May 2, 2009 at 8:03 am


I am an Anthropology student at age 58. I have two classes to go but am deciding to transfer to Religious Studies after everything I have learned about evolution. I believe that Science is great, but God is wonderful and I am yearning to find out more information on the religious side. Evolution information is convincing but I want to be able to decide for myself! Right now, I believe it is a perfect combination of both.



report abuse
 

Perplexed

posted May 3, 2009 at 1:32 am


I have read the Bible. I have studied science. I find it scientifically impossible to marry the two. You can not take what is supernatural like Noah’s Arc for instance, and explain it in a scientific context. Even if you don’t take the Old Testament literally, there are just too many supernatural events and miracles that science can not merit and therefore a disconnect will likely remain between the two. It’s been a while since I read the OT but there truly is no place for science in it. There are morals to be learned, values gleaned, and some relevant historical information in the OT but science left the equation when “the earth was created in six days.” Even if you don’t take that literally, Eve from Adam’s rib isn’t exactly conventional science either. It’s really a down hill battle for science loving Christians from there.
I do believe that science does a better job of explaining the existence of evil though. Poor genes, low socioeconomic status, biopsychological abnormalities, psychosocial trauma, inhumane greed and gluttony – these are some key contributors of evil. I’m not saying that menacing forces like the devil aren’t orchestrating much of these things but free will and demons require faith and faith is not something that can be measured, but science requires observations and calculations that yield results.



report abuse
 

Pingback: Biopsychological abnormalities | Atommarcom

Pingback: BioLoguration | The Emerging Scholars Blog

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

We're Moving
Science & the Sacred is moving to our new home on The BioLogos Foundation's Web site. Be sure to visit and bookmark our new location to stay up to date with the latest blogs from Karl Giberson, Darrel Falk, Pete Enns, and our various guests in the science-religion dialogue. We're inaugurating ou

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 11, 2009 | read full post »

Shiny Scales, Silvery Skins, and Evolution
  Source: Physorg.comIridescence -- a key component of certain makeup, paints, coatings of mirrors and lenses -- is also an important feature in the natural world. Both fish and spiders make use of periodic photonic systems, which scatter or reflect the light that passes against their scales or

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 09, 2009 | read full post »

A Stellar Advent Calendar
Looking for a unique way to mark the days of the Advent season? The Web site Boston.com offers an Advent calendar composed of images from the Hubble Telescope, both old and new. Each day, from now until the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, the calendar will offer a beautiful image from the hea

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 09, 2009 | read full post »

Belief, Guidance, and Evolution
Recently BioLogos' Karl Giberson was interviewed by Marcio Campos for the Brazilian newspaper Gazeta do Povo's Tubo De Ensaio (i.e. "Test tube") section. What follows is a translated transcript of that interview, which we will be posting in three installments. Here is the first. Campos: Starting o

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 08, 2009 | read full post »

Let's Come at this From a Different Angle
Every Friday, "Science and the Sacred" features an essay from a guest voice in the science and religion dialogue. This week's guest entry was written by Peter Enns. Enns is an evangelical Christian scholar and author of several books and commentaries, including the popular Inspiration and Incarnatio

posted 8:00:00am Dec. 04, 2009 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.