The Myth of the Holy Hierarchy

Remembering UK scientist R. J. “Sam” Berry (1934–2018), a real scientist with real faith

“As a Christian at university, I was faced with a hierarchy of possibilities. The really holy people became missionaries, the rather holy people were ordained, and the fairly holy people became teachers; the ‘also rans’ did all the other jobs in the world,” so wrote R. J. Berry in his book Real Science, Real Faith. Having discovered that he either couldn’t or shouldn’t do any of the “holy” jobs, Berry, known to most as Sam, eventually realized “that we have all been given different talents and callings, and that there is not (and should not be) such a thing as a typical or normal Christian.”

Sam Berry was anything but a normal Christian. He attended his local church regularly, went to the monthly prayer meetings whenever he could, and served on the church council. For the last 30 years of his life he was licensed to preach, and for about 20 years he took part in national synod meetings. This would have been a huge commitment on top of a regular job and raising three children, but Sam was a high-capacity person who was not content to conform to the stereotype of “also-ran”—those who run races but never win. He demonstrated to the best of his ability that every single Christian is in full-time ministry.

Continue reading this article now (free, no signup required) in Christianity Today.

R Bancewicz 2015 mugshot small
© Faraday Institute

Ruth Bancewicz is a Senior Research Associate at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, where she works on the positive interaction between science and faith. After studying Genetics at Aberdeen University, she completed a PhD at Edinburgh University. She spent two years as a part-time postdoctoral researcher at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology at Edinburgh University, while also working as the Development Officer for Christians in Science. Ruth arrived at The Faraday Institute in 2006, and is currently a trustee of Christians in Science.

 

More Satisfying Answers: Taking the conversation about science & Christianity to a deeper level in New Zealand

new-zealand-lake-mountain-landscape-37650-crop.jpegSometimes science can throw in questions that seem to upend theology completely, but is that a bad thing? In the end, faith can come out of those conversations far stronger and deeper than before. I recently spoke to Dr Nicola Hoggard Creegan, a theologian with a scientific background who is now Continue reading

Wonder at Work: Rhoda Hawkins on Faith in the Lab

Wonder is a driver for many scientists. For theoretical physicist Rhoda Hawkins, it also helps expand her picture of God. In today’s podcast Rhoda speaks about her work, the relevance of her faith in the university, and the role of wonder in her research.

To find out more about Rhoda’s work and faith, and the importance of wonder in both science and Christianity, see God in the Lab: How Science Enhances Faith (Monarch, 2015).

Rhoda Hawkins: Christians in Science

© Christians in Science
© Christians in Science

“I am a Christian and I am a scientist, so naturally I am a member of Christians in Science.” This is what Rhoda Hawkins, a lecturer in the Physics department at Sheffield University said to me when I asked her about her experience of being involved with CiS. Continue reading

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Billy Alexander, http://www.sxc.hu/
© Billy Alexander, http://www.sxc.hu/

How does a scientist define themselves when their work isn’t their primary identity? This month’s guest post is from Emily Sturgess, a biologist who has found a niche in Oxford.

It took me a while to realise that when you introduce yourself to someone you don’t have to define yourself with a single label. As if the supplies in the stationery cupboard were rationed, I felt for a long time that I was allowed only one label to stick on myself to describe what I do. I am the Development Officer for Christians in Science, so I spend a lot of time with people who describe themselves as ‘scientists’. That makes a lot of sense: they actively participate in scientific research, are employed by science departments in universities, and think ‘scientifically’. It is their profession, and the label is wholly applicable.

All the same, I have always been slightly uneasy about declaring myself Continue reading

Bringing a Christian Mind to Science

Kimberly Vohsen, www.sxc.hu
© Kimberly Vohsen, http://www.sxc.hu

There’s a kind of statistics that has been developed specifically for cases when you can see the effects of something but you don’t understand the cause. You know enough to make some assumptions, and then design some experiments to test them. In the light of those results you do some better experiments, and so on. Gradually you learn how likely it is that your starting assumptions were true.

A number of people have applied this Bayesian reasoning to the existence of God. You can’t measure him, but you can test your starting hypothesis in different ways and refine your thinking each time you find some new evidence. For example if you take the cosmological argument, add consciousness, then morality, throw in miracles and top it off with religious experience, you can begin to develop an argument for the existence of a god.

Andrew Briggs is Professor of Nanomaterials at Oxford University, and was responsible for Continue reading

On Awe and Zebrafish

Head of a Zebrafish larva, around 24h
Head of a Zebrafish larva, around 24h, by Ruth Bancewicz.

Whether Christian or not, scientists share a reverence for the moment when painstaking lab work blossoms into something almost transcendent. This post is taken from an article that I recently wrote for Third Way, and explains some of the thinking behind my current work on science and faith.

I’ll never forget my first sight of a Zebrafish larva. At twenty-four hours old they are about two and a half millimetres long and almost completely translucent. A simple low-magnification microscope reveals every detail of their anatomy in minute detail. You can see the heart pumping, and tiny red blood cells moving through capillaries. You can trace the outline of muscle fibres in their tails, and see every detail of the developing eye. Later on the eye becomes covered in silvery pigment cells, the transparent lens protruding, beautifully rounded and greenish in colour.

As a teenager heading off to university, I knew that science was compatible with Christianity – but I didn’t expect it to enhance my faith in the way that it has. Continue reading