Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
There is a common understanding among many that faith and science are in opposition to one another. Sadly, not only is this an understanding of many, it is the way many approach and engage in this issue.
In a recent survey of 12 million scientists, conducted by Elaine Howard Ecklund and her colleagues at Rice University and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), “2 Million U.S. Scientists Identify As EvangelicalBecause of the large numbers of evangelicals, the initial public engagements conducted by AAAS, referred to as Science, Ethics and Religion, will focus on evangelicals since they comprise a significant number of people in the U.S.
In response to Ecklund’s presentation, Galen Carey, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), notes “he would like to see scientists and evangelicals talk to each other more, starting with less controversial issues.” There are a number of issues upon which scientists and evangelicals agree. There are even a greater number of issues of agreement amongst scientists who are evangelical and evangelicals. In this important discussion Carey said, as noted in the article, “evangelicals must strive to listen better, avoid name-calling, and refrain from attacking fellow believers due to their positions on science.” This does not mean that one must agree with another’s position on science, but one will lovingly listen as fellow believers under the Lordship of Christ committed to “faith seeking understanding.”
In another important development of this study AAAR will partner with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) “to incorporate science education into seminary classrooms across the country so that future clergy will be better prepared to address questions regarding science, ethics, and religion with their congregations. As scientists at AAAS gear up to engage in dialogue about science with evangelical Christians, they’re hopeful that scientists who are evangelicals will be the ones serving as mediators.”
The article concludes on a hopeful note: “Even if the two sides may never reach agreement on certain issues, the data suggests that many Americans, including both scientists and evangelicals, believe that when it comes to science and religion, each can be used to support the other.”
Often it is the atheists and the atheistic scientists who receive the headlines. The results of this survey reflecting the number of scientists who claim to be evangelical (granted self-identifying as one does not mean one is, and since I have not seen how this is determined, I accept it on a good faith reading) also ought to make headlines. And if not worldly headlines, we can thank the Lord that, even more importantly, because of their faith in Jesus Christ their names are “written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27; cf. Rev. 3:5; 20:12). And we ought to pray that these discussions will bear good and godly fruit.