Science Camp…has just begun

Science camp is just getting started.

Yes, the week on the island is over.  The week of being thrown together with what appeared to the naked eye to be an utterly random gathering of 15 pastors (Baptist, Assembly of God, Reformed Church, United Church of Canada, Presbyterians, and a mutt like me) is over.  The profound face to face conversations with this group, in class settings and while feasting on organic, lovingly prepared meals and fine wine, is over.  Waking to sunrises that painted the islands a million hues of green is over.  Profound in-person lectures with some of the finest theologians I’ve ever had the privilege of sitting under, and one of the best scientists in North America are over.

But science camp has just begun because flames (plural) were lit in our hearts that will, if properly fanned, grow into blazes which, I pray, will change the lives and ministries of we who were privileged to participate.  I’ll be able share much more later (since it appears that the rapture isn’t happening today after all ) but for now I wanted to quickly highlight some of the small flames that have been ignited:

1. Holistic Faith. The sensual feast that was our time together was intended to remind each of us that our calling is to all of life.  Food preaches.  So does hiking.  So does doing medical research, or making music, or praying, or taking out the garbage and learning to make less of it.  Many of us knew this already, but none of us know it well enough, because we’ve been trained to think of our faith as imparting information, and developing private practices of prayer, Bible reading, and avoiding ‘big sins’.  Whoa!  That’s so far from reality  that’s it not just tragic; it’s scary.  Christ is misrepresented every time we divide reality into sacred and secular.

I’d said yes to this invitation, and then some time later received the binder in the mail.  Since my blog is titled Fibonacci Faith: Changing Everything, you can imagine my giddy joy when the binder for the week arrived in the mail!  Fibonacci indeed!  We’re called to embody the gospel in everything we do.

2. Genesis is telling us great stuff.  It’s just that the age of the earth isn’t the point of Genesis at all.  I’ve much more to say on this, and you can expect a sermon series in January on the topic.  Between now and then, how about starting with this read.

3. Stewardship of the earth is a big deal.  Again, much more to say about our care for the environment as it relates to worship, justice, joy, the feeding of our own souls, and our callings, but let’s just say, for now, that this flame, already burning in me, has been fed and is growing.

Those are just three quick notes about flames that are burning.  Our cohort will continue collaborating in the days and months ahead, with each of us developing clear deliverable projects for our congregations and beyond.  I’ll be sharing about some of them here.  Expect a fire.

Thanks are due to the faculty of Regent who taught us through both words, service, meals, availability, and rich, rich fellowship.  Thanks are due to the Templeton Foundation for their generous investment in us. And of course, thanks is due to the Godhead, who created it all, and is not only involved in redeeming it, but inviting us to give expression to that redemption. Talk about gratitude…. there are no words!

Why, in your opinion, has science and faith been so often at odds? What we can do to heal the wound? I welcome your thoughts.

Blog Tour Update
I was privileged to write this week on the Mustard Seed blog about how painting the colors of hope on the canvas of our world is more important than guessing rapture dates.  You can find that here.  And look for a review of Colors of Hope on this coming Monday.  Finally, GOOD NEWS! The study guide is finished and awaiting your use!

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  • Dan Roukema

    Hey Richard,
    love your comments regarding the week on Galiano…thought you captured it well. It was great to get to know you some, and I look forward to continuing dialogue!


  • fluger

    “Christ is misrepresented every time we divide reality into sacred and secular.” Love this line.

    I think the biggest issue I have is figuring out how to do everything I do to the glory of God. What does that look like when I’m driving to work? What does that look like when I’m eating? Infusing Christ into everything is a discipline all its own, and one I am woefully undisciplined in.

  • Vicki

    “Why, in your opinion, has science and faith been so often at odds? What we can do to heal the wound?”

    Science and faith have two very different ways of looking at the world, of searching for truth, of defining truth, etc. Faith makes claims in the absence of evidence. It cannot be proven wrong with logic but rather stands or fails on its ability to bring a sense of meaning. Faith speaks of truths of a transcendental nature. Science makes claims based on evidence/statistical analysis of data. It can never be proven right – only wrong. Science considers truth to be facts about the workings of the physical world. Neither of these views are better than the other nor are they necessarily in conflict.

    The conflict comes when science or faith step into the territory of the other. When faith makes science claims, like backing Aristotle’s view of the structure of the cosmos, it can suppress the advancement of knowledge not to mention look foolish. When science makes faith claims, like claiming there is no God, it can create a religious fundamentalist backlash not to mention look arrogant.

    As for healing wounds, each side should have enough humility to cede the ground that belongs to the other.

  • “Why, in your opinion, has science and faith been so often at odds? What we can do to heal the wound?”
    Just a couple of thoughts on this topic. First, in addition to what Vicki commented on, I think for the secular scientist they are scientists because it is about control. They feel that if they can understand something, they can control it. If something is out of control, it is simply because they do not understand it well enough yet. I guess another way of saying that is that knowledge is power or control. Obviously it is at odds with what we believe as Christians, because we preach to submit control to Another. I think Christians and secular scientists therefore are coming from completely different paradigms such that the two are often at odds.
    The second comment I wanted to make was about a visit I made to JPL a few years ago. They had an “open house” and let the general public tour the facility and had lots of exhibits. It was quite fascinating. My favorite thing was a tent where you could “Ask the Scientist.” I had a terrific conversation with a theoretical physicists of some sort with not one, not two, but three doctorates. At the end of the conversation, I asked him why, when they deal with such complex things, don’t they believe in a Creator or Designer. He smiled and noted that there was a major movement amongst high-end physicists toward Christianity. I hope he is right.
    For us Christians, we do not understand it. For us it seems obvious that science should direct a person toward the Creator (Romans 1). Yet, since we are coming from different paradigm, they will tend not to look for a Creator, wanting instead just the knowledge so they can control their lives. Bridging those two different paradigms is not a task for the faint of heart.

  • Vicki

    Tim, am I correct in understanding that you are not a scientist?

    First of all – I disagree with your comments about control. Obviously, there are likely to be some scientists for whom this is true, but that seems far from the norm to me. I think scientists are drawn to science, typically, by a desire to understand. Certainly there are many cases where greater understanding leads to obvious methods of control and there are many cases where there are good reasons to want to control our physical environment in some way. But there are also many, many things studied by scientist that are completely beyond our control. Take almost the entire field of astronomy for example. Now, spending years studying something and coming away with a useful method of controlling it is certainly rewarding. But if we are talking about initial driving forces – I think you are off. I’m making an issue of this because you later tie back into it: “they will tend not to look for a Creator, wanting instead just the knowledge so they can control their lives.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but this sounds like you are saying that they are avoiding implications of God out of a control-freak style character flaw.

    I’m also troubled by your interjection of the world secular before scientist and your use of “us” and “them” language. We are talking about different types of knowledge – not different people. Theists can be scientists. They aren’t mutually exclusive groups. Science has nothing to say about the existence of God.