Archives For Science and Faith

compassion imageI have strongly advocated that “Tolerance” is really useless as the central public virtue it has been lifted up to be. I can “tolerate” you without showing any neighbor love to you! Civility and Compassion with Convictions is the better alternative. (see a previous post on “Loving Like Jesus in Public”)

Krista Tippett, host of On Being and the designer of the Civil Conversations Project, has spoken about both the importance of Civility and the resurrection of the true meaning of Compassion in our language and culture. Her presentation at The Charter for Compassion has been picked up as a TED talk. Though I can’t agree with all the assumptions of this particular movement, I would say that it is tapping into the essential biblical truth that love must be visible. As the apostle John wrote, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18, ESV) Tippett calls compassion a “spiritual technology” – more essential to the world than mere scientific knowledge.

As a church, we were led to describe our mission: “to build compassionate Christian communities that transform lives and bring hope to the world.” Compassion is Christ’s self-sacrificing love in action! It also resonates with the Imago Dei (Image of God) that is embedded in each of us. And therefore it is also a natural bridge for people everywhere to connect with the Good News as they see it in practice. This kind of compassion often naturally leads to the question from the watching world, “Why are you doing this?” Deeds of compassion in the spirit of civility with the conviction of Jesus’ name!

Here is Krista Tippitt’s talk. Also see the earlier post, “Atheist testimony and our legacy of compassion.”

In the Biblical Thought class that I teach at URI, I give an assignment after covering the Psalms and Wisdom books of the Old Testament. I ask each student to write a “psalm.” It can be a prayer, a poem, a rant, or a first person paraphrase of a biblical Psalm.  I want them to experience some of the honesty expressed by the writers of the Psalms – “right in front of God!” To help them grasp the personal nature of the Word of God.

Here is a poem – I understand later put to music – written by one of my students, Seth.  He is a bio-medical engineering major and it reflects his response to the question of how science and faith are compatible.

God is in the Science

From the orbit of the farthest planets
To the workings of the smallest cell
God is there.

In the burning power of the stars;
In the soft, fragrant heat of a candle;
God is there.

The roar of the lion, the rumble of the earth;
The trill of a flute, the rustle of the leaves;
God is there.

In the force of a collision,
In the softness of a kiss,
Is He not there?

For surely He has planned their workings;
The Lord God has devised their mechanisms.
For all we know, everything mankind has discovered,
All things were set in place by Him.

Yes, even the thoughts of man, traveling through his brain,
And how he walks, and sits, and speaks;
The whole of Creation, in its vastness and diversity;
These too were crafted by God.

So give Him praise, wise men!
Sing to God, collectors of knowledge!
For from Him is all you have learned,
And from His words did your learning come forth.

The library of His knowledge is infinite;
None have catalogued the wisdom of the Lord.
So let us praise Him;
Let us praise the Lord till His archive is full!

__ Seth Crino (used by permission)

Those of you who have followed the discussion on Genesis 1-3 and how it is best interpreted, may find this 4 minute video clip on the website Biologos helpful.  Wright makes the point better than I on why the literary interpretation that is the most faithful to the text may be the one that doesn’t get caught up in contemporary debates.  See it here.

Wendell Berry is one of my favorite authors, especially his Sabbath and “Mad Farmer” poems. He is up in years though it seems he has always been at the marvelous place of not caring -in a good way- about the ‘popular’ critique of his work. He speaks his convictions about a Christian world-view and the perils of consumerism in multiple genres of poetry, essay, and novel. A friend sent this link to a May ’08 Harpers article that is brutally relevant to our current world. It is also wonderfully insightful for our current series on what it means to be human. You may not agree with Berry on everything here but being provoked to think and re-think is vital. Here’s the link.

In our series, Fully Human – Fully Alive we stopped to explore the question of how to understand Genesis 1.  I referenced an important new work called  The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate by John Walton, 2009 (IVP Academic).

“This book presents a profoundly important new analysis of the meaning of Genesis. Digging deeply into the original Hebrew language and the culture of the people of Israel in Old Testament times, respected scholar John Walton argues convincingly that Genesis was intended to describe the creation of the functions of the cosmos, not its material nature. In the process, he elevates Scripture to a new level of respectful understanding, and eliminates any conflict between scientific and scriptural descriptions of origins.” —-Francis S. Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project and author of The Language of God

The book along with the topic of  evangelicals and evolution was summarized and discussed recently on Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog.  You can read the posts and comments here.  It is part of a Science and Faith category.

A website recommended with an enormous amount of resources on all kinds of science and faith issues is from the Biologos Foundation at biologos.org

Go to the Christ Church website to hear the sermon.  Here I am listing a summary of the key principles from the teaching. Continue Reading…