I want to thank IVP for sending me a copy of this book for review. I am grateful that IVP began this series of books which give helpful introductions for why and how to faithfully study theology, philosophy, science, and the Bible.
This book is broken down into three parts. Part 1 addresses the question of why, why should we study science. In part 2, the authors give what they consider to be characteristics of faithful scientists. And finally, in part 3 the authors address what has been a concern for some about the relationship between science and Christianity.
Part one begins with a chapter covering positive reasons why a Christian would want to study science arguing that God has communicated to us in “two books,” the book of Scripture and the book of nature. The first two chapters in this part give theological and historical arguments for why Christians should study science but the third and final chapter in this part gives ethical reasons why Christians should study science. They argue that science is too big and too powerful”-in terms of the resources it requires and the outputs it produces- for Christians to leave scientific research to others” (pg. 43).
Part two covers characteristics of a faithful Christian scientist setting them apart from their secular colleagues. The Christian scientist, they argue, operates from a framework of hope in the sovereign God. Because of the relationship that they have with God, they must work within community differently and all that they do must be done in intellectual humility.
Part three attempts to address concerns that the reader may have, beginning with the issue of the relationship between science and scripture, do they contradict each other. Rather than getting into the nitty-gritty details of individual passage interpretations, the authors give four helpful principles that can be applied in any instance of biblical interpretation. One- having the Holy Spirit as our teacher does not make us infallible. Two- we must read the Bible in community. Three- not just a literal interpretation. Four- to know what the Bible means for us today, we should first understand what the Bible meant to its original audience. Part three continues addressing the question “aren’t scientists mostly atheists?” They argue in this chapter that “there is good reason to think that modern science took root and grew best in a Christian setting” (pg. 117). The book closes with a chapter on how the Christian scientist can help the church. A few examples of these include first, it can help in clarifying the role of context in the development of religious and scientific faith. Second, they can help with interpretive issues. Third, they can help in dealing with big questions such as where is the soul in the physical brain and what does modern neuroscience suggest about free will.
The authors conclude, “Christian scientists are under obligation to live faithful lives at home, work, and church no less than any other Christian, but the scientific training they have acquired also equips them to demonstrate how science can serve as a window into the nature and action of God in ways that can extend the vision of those whose expertise lies elsewhere. That training can also pay dividends when helping current and prospective church members bridge the perceived chasm between theories of modern science and claims of Christianity- a gap that has been unnecessarily imposed by Christians and non-Christians alike who have failed to see the possibilities of integration” (pg. 134).
I enjoyed reading this book as a non-scientist and it was helpful in seeing the relationship between science and Christianity played out in this book but as a nonscientist, I felt a disconnect. I would not recommend this book to any Christian but to those Christians who are interested in science, the Christian who is interested in the relationship between science and Christianity, and the Christian Scientist. Overall, a well-written book that can help us understand and navigate the difficult waters of science and religion.
Quality rating: 4 stars
Recommended Reader: The Christian Scientist (also, those interested in science)
Price: $11.98 (Amazon)