Science and faith are not at odds but intimately entwined: This perspective was the unifying theme of Ben McFarland’s and Greg Cootsona’s discussion during “Science and Faith in Times of Crisis,” a recent webinar we co-hosted with Science for the Church.
An author and professor of biochemistry at Seattle Pacific University, Ben McFarland is also an expert commentator on COVID-19. Greg Cootsona is professor of religion and humanities at Chico State University, an author, and co-founder of the non-profit Science for the Church. Speaking from the comfort of their offices, they challenged premises that foment unnecessary tension between science and faith.
Speaking of his personal journey, Ben shared that he grew up a young earth creationist, but with experience he became convinced that he wasn’t called to establish proof supporting the young earth position; rather, he was inspired to appreciate God’s wondrous inventiveness as he pursued scientific investigation with an open mind. God equips and invites people to explore the world’s mysteries without fear of where the discovery leads. Scientists, trained to be systematic investigators, are equipped to explore God’s wonders, to seek truth and to split fact from fiction. As a scientist, Ben says he has experienced joy in discovering the intricacy of God’s creation.
In addition to discussing the compatibility of science and faith, Ben outlined how the coronavirus works and slowly mutates. In doing so, he demonstrated the power of science to demystify a disease that has reminded us of our fragility. Science is an invaluable weapon in fighting COVID-19, Ben showed, because it not only unveils the workings of the virus, but it also empowers people to take rational steps to contain it and protect themselves, their families, and communities from its ravages.
Ben and Greg cited several resources that were influential in their formation as scientists and theologians.
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, 2007, Francis S. Collins
Mere Christianity, 1943, C. S. Lewis
The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics, 1st edition, 1996, Richard B. Hays
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Anniversary edition, 1999, Douglas R. Hofstadter
Also of interest are Cootsona’s and McFarland’s own books.
Mere Science and Christian Faith: Bridging the Divide with Emerging Adults (InterVarsity Press, 2018)
A World From Dust: How the Periodic Table Shaped Life (Oxford University Press, 2016)
Take time this summer to sit in the sun, read, and observe, for “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” (Romans 1:20)