Humanity at a Crossroads
We have reached a pinnacle in our knowledge of science and our use of advanced technologies. We can travel beyond our planet, cure diseases, master the power of the atom, take control of our own genetics and we can share information among billions of people in an instant. We have built machines that have begun to surpass own human intelligence and abilities.
Yet, with all of our great scientific and technological achievements, where is the respect, praise, honor and glory to our God who has given us our universe and endowed us with these gifts?
And where are the Christians?
Research, including our own primary research (more on that to come soon), continues to show that active, church-going Christians are underrepresented in scientific and technology leadership roles and Christians continue to be less engaged in science and technology.
In research conducted by Elaine Howard Ecklund and her team via the Religious Understandings of Science (RUS) studies:
Non-religious people and those in non-Christian religious traditions (Jews, Buddhists, Hindus) are at least two times more likely to be interested in new scientific discoveries than evangelical Christians (only 22 percent are interested).
Richard Dawkins, the high-profile, atheist, British scientist, is more than five times more widely known in the U.S. population (21% recognition) than US-based, Christian scientist, Francis Collins (4% recognition).
Many Christians have been a key part of scientific discoveries and technology innovations through the centuries and continue to be.
Still, the trends seem to be showing that church-going Christians do not have proportionally high leadership positions in, and influence within, many science and technology categories.
This trend may have origins in multiple sources at both ends of the faith spectrum:
First, mainstream science and popular media often seem to be at odds with mixing faith within scientific and technology endeavors. Thus, many church-going Christians have come to mistrust the public "spokespeople” in science and technology as some of them (especially prominent “New Atheists”) continue to attack the tenants and/or merit of Christian beliefs.
Second, conflicts and fear dominate the landscape within many organized Christian traditions, resulting in internal fights over hot-button issues like evolution, cosmic origins, artificial intelligence and biotechnology. Church-going Christians may also see a lack of shared ethics when it comes to the pursuit of, and potential uses of, scientific and technological advancements and we often disagree on fundamental issues, like what it means to human or to be made in “God’s image.”
Christians are called to get involved
Like many of the leading Christians in science and technology that we have spoken with, we believe the "faith vs. science" conflict isn’t really a conflict at all. God and science not only go well together, they are actually a necessary combination in order for us to truly obey and fulfill God’s commandments for us to know and love Him, and to love and serve each other.
He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - Matthew 22:37-39 (NRSVCE)
To learn more deeply about God and His creation, we need God’s gifts of science and technology. And in the modern era, we cannot effectively serve and love each other, without the necessity of using God’s gifts of science and technology to feed the poor, cure disease, ease suffering and build up God’s church. Instead of burying our talents in the ground, we need to use them to make more:
“The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ ” - Matthew 25: 20-21 (NIV)
God wants wants us to use our minds and talents to know and love Him, and to serve each other.
What better way to do this than by using His gifts of science and technology to multiply our knowledge of His Creation and to better love and serve our neighbors?
Christians need to be at the forefront of discovery, and advancing the usage of these discoveries to serve humanity. We also need to be “at the table” of discussion around humanitarian and ethical issues as they intersect with this new science and tech.
This is what we believe we are called to do as God’s people and this is what our team at Purpose Nation is called to evangelize.
Unless Christians have been well-educated in science and technology areas and/or are working within them, the pace of change is accelerating so quickly that we may soon be caught off-guard.
And unless we can come to some common ground and achieve mutual respect within the church, we’ll never move past the non-essential, in-house conflicts into our true calling and purpose.
While we are waiting for Christ’s return, arguing among each other, the future will come like a “thief in the night,” leaving the our churches and church-goers woefully unprepared.
Want to learn more? Keep reading...