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Why do we need Church Scientific?

Inspired by café culture, Church Scientific brings a new approach to science engagement for churches. That is, to put aside the debates about origins and interpretations of Genesis, along with the tendency of putting scientists on pedestals to explain the wonders of the universe to lesser intellects! Instead, Church Scientific focuses on the human foundation of scientific work: men and women who are glorious yet fallen, intelligent yet fallible, blinkered yet visionary – applying themselves to the analysis and study of some detail of the created order in a quest for understanding.

That sounds a bit different. How’s it going to work?

So Church Scientific will initially focus on helping a group of science students and researchers to look at the theological, philosophical and pragmatic aspects of doing research in any kind of science or science-related subject. Theological aspects first: how does a biblical worldview give a legitimate framework – indeed a calling – for us to do something like science? Then philosophy and history of the sciences: how does scientific research seem to progress, and why should we trust it at all? Then pragmatism and ethics: how might we pursue our studies and research in ways faithful to God’s revelation – and how might we actually make better contributions to research and its applications by coming with a Christian worldview? All of this is done through a set of workshops in November, open to anyone engaged in scientific research or study.

So it’s not the Church of Christ, Scientist?

Indeed not. The aim is to help the workshop participants go back and engage more deeply with their own congregations. We’ll end up looking at communication skills, to help scientists discuss their own research and study interests, and broader issues too, with fellow believers. So the next phase of the project comprises café evenings where a few scientists each evening will give short talks sharing their work with fellow believers, and stimulating discussion. They can talk about whatever they are studying or researching, sharing their excitement, hopes and passions. Those present then have the opportunity to share their views and ideas with each other before feeding back to the scientists – so maintaining dialogue and respecting insights from all members of Christ’s body – and indeed visitors too. While the project is generally geared towards churchgoers, it’s likely to have an apologetics function too, allowing sympathetic non-believers to witness genuine truth-seeking discourse within a broad community of believers.

You’ve allayed my worst fears. But what’s the point of it all?

Our hope and prayer is that scientists and non-scientists (and everyone in between) will build understanding and confidence about the place of scientific research in a Christian worldview, and be better equipped to serve the Kingdom of God in whatever ways they are called. It’s a big vision, and support from local church leaders will be an important factor in making it fruitful.

So how can I support Church Scientific?

First of all, please continue supporting the scientists and students in your congregation, and pray for their integrity, success and faithfulness to Christ. The Church Scientific team would be delighted if you would point scientist members of your congregation to the project and encourage them to sign up for the November workshops. Please also let church members know about the launch event (Oct 25) and the café evenings (Jan – May 2017).

There are other ways you can help too – please see the roles for church members.

Author David Humphries

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