I’m trying to be a serious academic, but sometimes it feels that considering how my faith impacts my discipline is merely an interesting sideline to my work. It’s a subject to be confined to my Christian postgrad group and occasional books read on the sly, rather than a unifying principle in my work.
What do you think of when you hear the word “ecology”?
The discipline of ecology may be unique among the sciences in that its name has become strongly associated with a political agenda . Indeed, “ecological” has connotations of “sustainable” and “environmentally-friendly”. What we call “green” translates in many languages as “ecological”, evoking one of the dominant ethical movements of our time.
It has been said that a specialist is one who knows more and more about less and less … until he knows everything about nothing!
A few weeks ago, we saw that redemption is the way in which God, in the person of Jesus, stepped into his creation to gain the victory over the punishment for and consequences of the fall. However, at present we still live in the ‘in-between’, knowing that we are forgiven now, but that the full revelation of God’s kingdom is yet to come. We are taught to pray ‘your kingdom come’. But how do we live in the light of this coming kingdom?
As Abraham Kuyper never said: “All of life is redeemed, apart from the mundane stuff”. When Kuyper was writing the Stone lectures was he thinking about completing a bi-annual PhD progress report, doing the online fire training course again (could a fire occur in virtual space?), checking references, filing ethical permission applications, ordering paper for the communal printer or reading submission guidelines1?
How can we bring Jesus’ lordship to bear on ordinary administrative jobs2? Here our focus is on understanding the culture of administration3 to inform our response.
The third key element of the biblical worldview is redemption. That means God buying back what was lost. And if we take the biblical accounts of sin seriously, it’s clear that the whole created order was corrupted by the Fall. So, building on an understanding of Creation and Fall, we see that Redemption is the way that God’s original purposes for the filling and cultivating of the earth may continue despite sin. In other words, it’s not a Plan B, but the rescuing of Plan A:
One of the motivations for Faith in Scholarship is the conviction that Christian faith makes a difference to all areas of life. It’s not just the ‘religious’ areas of our lives that are affected, but, in the famous words of Abraham Kuyper, ‘There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!’
But what does that mean for my own discipline: astronomy?
When you look at a mushroom, what do you see? You might be attracted by its colourful hood, or by its smell. Or you may think of mushrooms in garlic butter. When I look at a mushroom, I see the fruit body of a basidiomycete. This is because mushrooms are currently a research topic for me. And whilst I see the same object as you, I have a slightly different reaction to it.