Book Preview: John Ortberg – Boiling Kettles and Remodeled Apes

tea-place-1154699-1278x855 Juan Vasquez freeimages crop

Does science disprove our faith?We might start thinking about this by considering the question of whether science is the only reliable way to acquire knowledge. Science has great prestige in our day, so this is a really important question. Are there any other kinds of knowledge besides scientific knowledge? The short answer is yes, and if we don’t recognize that, it limits the knowledge we have to live by. Because science has made such amazing progress in certain fields like medicine and technology, some people claim that the scientific method, or empirical verification, is the only way to reliable knowledge. That would mean there is no such thing as moral, spiritual or personal knowledge. This view that the scientific method is the only reliable way to knowledge is sometimes called scientism. Continue reading

An Impossible World

Cararr, www.freeimages.com
© Cararr, http://www.freeimages.com

This month’s guest post is from writer Emily Ruppel, Associate Director of Communications for the American Scientific Affiliation, and Web Editor at BioLogos. Here, Emily tells about her unusual route into the science-faith arena, which began with a nun.

A few years ago while studying in the science writing master’s program at MIT, I heard about something rather brilliant from a friend at Harvard University. Brilliant things happen at Harvard all the time, of course, but this was ‘brilliant’ in a different way—unexpected, illuminating, and challenging, for the people it happened to. It opened up a course of conversation previously unavailable to its participants. It was controversial, too, in a quiet way.

What happened is this: a graduate student studying astronomy sent an email to her department announcing her imminent departure from the program. Continue reading

An International Dialogue

Michel Meynsbrughen, http://www.sxc.hu/
© Michel Meynsbrughen, http://www.sxc.hu/

This week’s post was first published on the BioLogos forum. I was invited to write something about my experience of science and faith internationally. So far, we have launched the Test of Faith resources in the UK, US, and Brazil, and they are being published in a number of other countries where we have set up collaborations with local groups. I have found that although each country has its own particular issues, there are a number of commonalities between Christians in this area.

Christianity is an international movement. Denominations, mission movements, and well-known writers or speakers can share new ideas quickly, and even more so today with air travel and the internet. For Evangelicals, Young Earth Creationism has travelled around the globe, but the other views that Christians hold have not always been explained. Discussions like the ones that are held at at BioLogos are not available in every language, so people may be uninformed about the different biblical perspectives on Genesis.

Continue reading

Heart and Mind: Understanding Science and Faith

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Galaxy cluster Abell S0740, Hubble, NASA

Christian researchers often say that scientific discoveries uncover more of God’s creative power. But how do people of different faiths work together in science? How can they reach reliable conclusions? In the USA, scientific research and teaching are carried out in both secular Universities and Christian Colleges. Deborah B. Haarsma has lived and worked in each of these environments, and is currently Professor in Physics & Astronomy at Calvin College, Michigan. Alongside her research in astrophysics, Deb now spends some of her time helping students and others to relate their faith to their studies in science. This week she was appointed as the new Director of BioLogos, ‘a community of evangelical Christians committed to exploring and celebrating the compatibility of evolutionary creation and biblical faith’. In this interview excerpt she explains how science and Christian faith are compatible. Continue reading

Awe in Science, Part 1: Life in the Laboratory


You must have experienced it, too – one is almost frightened in front of the simplicity and compactness of the interconnections that nature all of a sudden spreads before him and for which he was not in the least prepared.

Werner Heisenberg, in a letter to Albert Einstein[1]

for many people, science invites awe and religion invites insight. When awe and insight engage, science-and-religion happens.

                                                                                                                 Ron Cole-Turner[2]

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Window at St Crispin’s Church, Braunstone. © St Crispin’s

If we can understand the experiences of the people who work every day in the lab, our dialogues concerning science and religion will be far more fruitful than they would be otherwise. I realised this when someone recently asked me what the highlights had been during my own time as a biologist. I explained that what I appreciated most was the privilege of experiencing science first-hand. My horizons have been expanded, and I now have a better understanding of how vast and complex the natural world is. Appreciating the grandeur of the universe seems to be a universal for humankind, including research scientists in their own peculiar way. Everyone has something to add to a conversation about experiences of awe, as I discovered when I blogged on it recently and invited a number of friends and former colleagues to comment. This sense of awe is a perfect starting point for discussions of science and theology. Continue reading

Songs about science…?

Following on from last week’s post, I’m looking for material for new worship songs using scientific discoveries, in the hope that someone might take the bait…

What about the amazing discoveries made through the Hubble Telescope? The pictures from this incredible piece of technology in the sky grace our coffee tables, computer monitors and television screens every day. Hubble has filled in many of the gaps in our knowledge about how planets form. Before high-resolution images were available astronomers could only guess some of the details, but now a clearer picture has emerged – quite literally!

Planets form in vast clouds of dust and gas called nebulae. A new planetary system forms when part of the cloud clumps together and begins to collapse under the force of gravity. The compression at the centre of the cloud is so great and causes so much heat to be generated that a new star is formed. The remainder of the dense cloud rotates around the star and begins to flatten into a disc. Planets begin to coalesce within this circulating dust ring. The new planets grow larger and larger, gathering up the remaining dust until a new group of planets is formed orbiting around its own star.

It’s incredible that we can know about star formation in such detail, given that it happens so far away, and over such a long period of time. The discoveries from space telescopes such as Hubble provide plenty of fuel for the imagination, and increase our picture of how big our creator God is. Our universe was created through the same Jesus who appeared to a small nation on the tiny planet that we call home. It’s hard to keep those two things in your head at the same time…

And I can’t write on Hubble without mentioning that Dr Jennifer Wiseman, the chief scientific officer of Hubble Telescope, is a Christian and has written her own thoughts down in an article for BioLogos about science as an instrument of worship. She also gave a talk at the Faraday Institute on life on other planets.