We’re called Church Scientific because we believe that scientific work is one important area where the body of God’s people is called to be active. Not all Christians are called to be professional scientists, but we do think that scientific literacy is hugely important for Christians. Because we learn from infancy by experimenting and reflecting on our experiences, everyone is an amateur scientist at one level!
Our roots lie in working with churches, and we continue to encourage Christian scientists to talk about their work with fellow-believers – and churches to take an interest in the day-to-day activities, struggles and discoveries of their members who are scientists.
Are we Christian scientists, then?
Those of us who follow Jesus Christ and study sciences, or earn a living from some kind of scientific work, are Christian scientists: we’re Christians first because Jesus is our Lord, and we’re scientists second, because this work is important in our lives.
We have no connection with the religious organisation known as Christian Science (the First Church of Christ, Scientist). But we aspire to use the term “Christian scientist” in its natural sense, as a description of our faith (Christian) and our calling (scientist).
In fact, this order (Church, then Scientific; Christian, then scientist) goes right to the heart of our vision. We help Christians find inspiration and insights for scientific work and study by drawing on the rich resources of a biblical worldview and a Christian philosophy. This is what makes Church Scientific unique.
Is that all there is to it?
Actually, after choosing the name, we discovered that the term “church scientific” was used in the late 18th century. According to historian Peter Harrison, two members of the Royal Society, Francis Galton and Thomas Henry Huxley, used terms such as “scientific priesthood” and “church scientific” to refer to scientific fraternities in the context of their aims to eliminate religious influences from scientific circles.
All this is described in Harrison’s excellent book The Territories of Science and Religion (2015) – see Chapter 6. You can read my short review of that book here: https://thinkfaith.net/2020/04/07/charting-the-territories-of-science-and-religion/.
So we are also reclaiming “Church Scientific” from its former anti-religious connotations. We believe in redemption!