God In The Lab

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God In The Lab

Post by Aslan_HQ on Tue Feb 17, 2015 2:55 pm

Finding God and Beauty in Science

For Dr Ruth Bancewicz, scientist and senior research associate at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion based in Cambridge, experiencing scientific research first hand brings a sense of awe that enhances faith. She has encountered many others who have similar stories. She recounts these, alongside exploring the common ground between science and faith, in her new book, ‘God in the Lab’.

Buy ‘God in the Lab’ for just £6.55 (RRP £8.99)

What was your motivation in writing God in the Lab?

I am often asked if it’s difficult to be a Christian in science, so I wanted to show what it’s really like. There were some questions to think about, and colleagues who disagreed with my views, but on the whole I found that doing science was a great experience and helped my faith to grow.

I believe that it’s so important to show the positive side of the relationship between science and faith. There is plenty of common ground for everyone to discuss. Many scientists, even if they are not people of faith, have found that science raises fascinating spiritual questions.

Why do you think that for some scientists their work leads them the conclusion that there probably isn’t a God, but others (such as those featured in God in the Lab) come to a different conclusion?

I expect that for most scientists who don’t believe in God, the reason will not be science, but a difficult question about suffering, evidence for God, a bad experience in church, the reliability of the Bible, and so on. Science doesn’t inevitably lead to conclusions about God’s existence either way. I prefer to think of it as a thought experiment – which view makes the best sense of all the available information?

How do Christian scientists counteract the damage inflicted upon Christianity by the aggressive anti-science approach of some Christians?

That aggressive stance is for a reason – some Christians believe that the opening chapters of Genesis should be interpreted in a more literalistic way, and that particular interpretation happens to conflicts with science. When I am asked what I think, I prefer to just explain my own view and point out the difference between primary and secondary issues. It’s amazing how many people outside of the church have not heard about this range of views on Genesis, so it’s fairly easy to explain the rough details and move the conversation on to more helpful topics. I find that in schools, young people often move quickly on to questions about why I am a Christian.

You write a lot in the book about the relationship between creativity, beauty and science – and how that enhances your spirituality. How can that communicated to people who see science as either a threat to their faith, or as something dry and academic?

Let me try a story. Each cell of your body contains a total of two metres of DNA. Those molecules are very tightly coiled up, but if you uncoiled them all how long would they be? How far could they stretch if you added the end to end? To the moon? The sun? The DNA molecules of an average-sized adult, end to end, would actually be a hundred billion kilometres long. Stretched out fully, they would take you all the way from Earth to the distant planet of Pluto and back at least six times. We are fearfully and wonderfully made! The universe is vast and beautiful, and so is our own planet. To explore even just one tiny part of it a scientist needs to use all of his or her creativity and imagination.

How would you counter the argument that in the midst of the beauty of the natural world there is also much violence and conflict – indeed some argue it is a necessary part of evolutionary theory – nullifying the idea of the natural world pointing to a benevolent creator?

That’s the most difficult question of all. How do we handle the fact that animals and plants seem to be trying to squeeze each other out of existence? Why do we so often do the same? I don’t know the answer any more than a pastor can say why God doesn’t protect us from suffering. I can say one thing – that cooperation is also incredibly important in the natural world. I won’t try to answer this question any more in such a small space, but I will recommend a website, biologos.org, where these sorts of questions are explored by Christian scholars in an open forum.

What do you hope people will take away from God in the Lab?

If they are Christians, I hope that science will open their eyes to the amazing world God has made. If not, I hope they will be interested in the spiritual questions that the beauty, wonder and awe of science can raise.

Buy ‘God in the Lab’ for just £6.55 (RRP £8.99)

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