The Vibrant Dance of Faith and Science

Andrew D. White was the first president of Cornell University back in 1896 when he published his History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. His little book (919 pages) was a hot item back then, for despite the persistent rise of science and increasing skirmishes between scientists and theologians (e.g., Darwin published his On the Origin of Species in 1859), it was still hoped that the romance of science, democracy and Christianity would flower in the 20th century and bless the world. White was a naysayer, arguing that science and faith had always been at odds and would always be at odds.

Of course White had to distort history in order to make his case, for the truth is that modern science was birthed by Christians and the marriage of science and faith wasn’t one of convenience. Just a few years after the publication of White’s tome, British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead argued that the biblical views of God, the world, and of human beings had firmly and uniquely served as the foundation scientific thought. Even the clashes between church and science that White celebrates were often clashes between the church and believers, e.g. Galileo, not atheists. There has been throughout the ages a vibrant dance between faith and science. Losing sight of this would ultimately damage both.

Next week (Oct 26th-28th) the Hill Country Institute for Contemporary Christianity (HCICC) will host a major conference on science and faith here in Austin at Grace Covenant Church. The Vibrant Dance of Faith and Science: Empowering the Church to Transform the Culture will bring together a group of outstanding scholars, theologians and scientists to “inspire, educate, and unify pastors and scientists.” Speakers will include Walter Bradley (Baylor), Andy Crouch (Christianity Today), Jack Collins (Covenant Seminary), Hugh Ross (Reasons to Believe), Stephen Meyer (The Discovery Institute), Alister McGrath (King’s College, London) and many others.

Larry Linenschmidt , director of HCICC, says:

“The goal of this symposium, then, is to provide pastors, Christian leaders, and scientists with a good foundation for understanding important current ideas in science, Christian theology, and the interaction between them. The plenary and breakout sessions by leading scientists and theologians will survey advances – and controversies – in science and theology. The subsequent dialog in panel discussions, combined with numerous opportunities for individual interaction, will further elucidate the ideas and issues at stake…

Understanding the interaction between science and faith is vital for the empowering of the Christian church to hold the Gospel out to our society with fearless, Christ-honoring integrity. We hope to equip leaders in the church to influence – even define – the terms of discussion between science and faith. The historic and oft used 'two books' analogy of God’s revelation is helpful here; the 'book' of nature and the 'book' of the Bible. Since both 'books' are from the Triune God, the information revealed in these 'two books' will enhance our understanding of both, and ultimately will be acknowledged as consistent, though they may seem partially incongruent at times because of human limitations and misconceptions.”

Want more info on the conference? You can find it at Tickets are still available. If like me you don’t have the time to attend the entire conference, tickets for individual lectures are also available.

Hope to see you there.