Science and Christianity

Essays on Science and Christianity
by
Christopher Downs

Introduction

I became a Christian at about the same time that I began a career working in science. Yet for many years I was left with the uneasy feeling that so much of what science stood for was apparently in conflict with my Christian beliefs. I came to see science as a powerful force shaping our society and shaping me and proclaiming itself as the supreme way forward. I was being exposed to two apparently different systems of thought and belief, not one. Two directions can mean disintegration, and I soon came to wonder whether I should leave science and follow some other career path that would be more in keeping with my Christian faith.

During 1995 and 1996 I spent time at Regent College, Vancouver, Canada where I had the opportunity to think through some of these issues. My time at Regent helped me to see that Christians are called to fully integrate all that we believe with all that we do, including our workplace and our careers. So by leaving science I would be missing an opportunity to integrate my faith with that science. These essays represent my journey so far toward integration. They are written from the perspective of someone who is setting out on a faith journey toward a destination - there is much that is still to be known.

In Hostile Science, I outline some of the factors which contributed to the disintegration I felt between my faith and science. In Christian Thinking in Science, I draw on the alternate paradigm of thinking formulated by Michael Polanyi as a way to reintegrate science and Christianity. In Creative Science, I introduce the concepts of co-creativity, dominion and stewardship as a framework within which to conduct creative and God-honouring science.

In the first essay below, Seeing God Through Science and Creation, I introduce the concept of whether science should merely be viewed as a job or whether science is a privileged opportunity to see God through Creation. Why is it that Christians and non-christians working in the same area of science can examine the same things and yet view them quite differently?

Biography

Chris Downs completed his PhD at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia in 1991. He currently leads a team of researchers at a New Zealand Crown Research Institute. He is an elder at St Albans Presbyterian Church in Palmerston North and is an advisor for TCCF (Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship) at Massey University.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Lauren Downs, Geoff Troughton and Duncan Babbage for their constructive critique of these essays, and to Geoff Troughton for assistance with their publication. Thanks also for the support and encouragement of others at St Albans Presbyterian Church.

All Bible references come from the New International Version.

Christopher Downs
Palmerston North
January 1999

© 1999 Christopher Downs, Palmerston North, New Zealand