Christian thinkers have proposed a range of ideas about what science is, ranging from reading the book of God's works and "thinking God's thoughts after Him" to studying how the Universe runs itself if God doesn't intervene. Views like these were expressed by early modern scientists (Galileo, Bacon, Newton and others) who were Christians of one sort or another, but they needn't be the last word for a theistic perspective on science.
Posts by Richard Gunton
Today, as I write, it is Pentecost. We marked the festival at church this morning, and the coming of the Holy Spirit is regularly celebrated at churches throughout the world. But what does Pentecost mean for research? Should scholars celebrate it outside of church services?
To find a series of books that join up the dots in whole swathes of one's previous education is a wonderful experience. That's my experience of the writings of philosopher Marinus Dirk Stafleu, which I first discovered a year ago. His multi-volume project Philosophy of Dynamic Development flows from his career as a Christian studying physics and philosophy: from a PhD in quantum mechanics to teacher-teaching in Utrecht, in his native Netherlands.
Christianity and the University Experience should be read by everyone concerned with ministry to students. It's the outcome of a project in 2009–2012 across thirteen English universities, investigating patterns of religious commitment among undergraduates identifying themselves as Christian. And perhaps the most striking finding of all was that 51% of all respondents identified themselves as "currently belonging" to the "Christian tradition", yet almost a third of these did not go to church at all: neither while at university nor during vacations.
When God's Spirit brings about a movement of change, it often seems to begin in disparate places and diverse ways through people who don't know each other. For example, a remarkable number of broadly Evangelical organisations for cultural engagement seem to have sprung up in England in the 1980s – of which Thinking Faith Network (originally WYSOCS) is one. Now in our own time, I believe God is doing something important for Christian engagement in academia in Europe – starting with Christian doctoral students.
We like to advertise other initiatives that share a similar vision with Faith-in-Scholarship, and today I want to tell you about the Society of Christian Scholars. Actually this organisation hasn't been officially launched yet: it's due to come into existence tomorrow, on 1 March.
This initiative's purpose is prominently stated on its About page. "The Society of Christian Scholars equips missional Christian academics to have a redemptive influence for Christ among their students, colleagues, institutions, and academic disciplines."
Reflecting on what Advent might mean for my work, I ended up looking at the connection between teaching and research. About half of this Advent wraps up my first semester of teaching (in a job I recently began), and the other half will give a little more time to pursue research tasks until Christmas is fully here.
Forming a Christian Mind 2018 took place a week ago - and an important sequel is planned for Feb 2019.
Where does science come from? Historically, the predecessor of what we now call the sciences was natural philosophy, which was, evidently enough, a branch of philosophy. But when we study science at school and university, it's rare to hear much mention of any continuing dependence on philosophy. We seem to study lots of scientific "facts": about the universe, the solar system and the earth, about impacts and reactions, about microbes, plants and animals, and about humans and society. We gradually get introduced to experimental methods as ways of testing hypotheses and perhaps to demonstrate the tentative nature of scientific conclusions (after all, school science experiments rarely give textbook outcomes!). Eventually we're told about scientific models and sometimes even about some