Question: What is the Christian Faith?
Answer (by a man in the street): Resolutely shutting your eyes to scientific fact.
This exchange was recorded by the crime novel writer Dorothy Sayers more than sixty years ago but the view it expresses is perhaps even more prevalent today. Real scientists don’t believe in God.
So it may be a surprise that I’ve recently been reading a book with the title ‘True Scientists, True Faith’ in which twenty world-leading scientists show that this is totally untrue. For these scientists, their science enhances their faith and their faith undergirds their science. And describing these scientists as ‘world-leading’ is no exaggeration. They include Bob White, the Professor of Geophysics at Cambridge University, a world expert on volcanoes studying, among other things, the volcano in Iceland that caused major disruption to flights across Europe a couple of years ago. There is also Francis Collins, an American, who led the team that deciphered the human genome for the first time. And there is also Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, a botanists who identified more than 350 new plants in the Amazon. Over 40 of them are now named after him. He also became the Head of Kew Gardens in London.
So what’s going on? How can these highly respected scientists also be convinced believers in God? Well, as they explain, ‘science is only one slice of reality. The rest of the world is much more complex. Human affection, ethics, beauty – the limitations of science can’t deny the validity of those experiences.’ ‘One of the strongest motivations of humankind is to seek answers to profound questions, and we need to bring all of the powers of both the scientific and spiritual perspectives to bear on understanding what is both seen and unseen.’
Of course we could just decide that there is no deeper meaning, but these twenty scientists, and many others like them, show that science doesn’t force us to that conclusion. On the contrary, for them, their science and their faith are both involved in a search for truth about the complicated, fascinating and awe-inspiring world around us.
Makes you think, doesn’t it!