If you are perplexed by the pandemic in particular and science in general, help is available from Christians in Science (CiS).
Exhibitors at the forthcoming CRE South West 2021 (Westpoint, Exeter, 17-18 March), CiS offer helpful material on a number of relevant subjects, including Coronavirus. Although primarily a professional group, a proportion of its almost 1000 members are not scientists.
‘We are happy to welcome anyone with an interest in science and faith,’ said CiS development officer Steph Bevan. Current members include highly distinguished senior scientists and gifted speakers. Local groups are scattered around the UK and Ireland.
‘It’s a common misperception that there is always conflict between science and faith and this can be abused by those with anti-Christian or anti-science agenda,’ explained Steph. ‘In reality, science has always been the domain of many committed Christians.’ She recalls how astronomer Johannes Kepler dedicated one of his papers with a prayer: ‘I have here completed the work of my calling, with as much intellectual strength as you have granted me.’ This same attitude is shared by many Christians who work in science today.
Four fascinating lectures, given at an online conference last month, include three on God and pandemics. All are available on the group’s YouTube site.
Prof Bob White, FRS, speaks on Plagues and Pandemics: perspectives from science and faith. A professor of geophysics at Cambridge University and director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, comments: ‘Viruses such as Covid-19 travel around the globe at, literally, the speed of a jet airliner. At least in the high-income countries today we have developed the hubris of thinking we can control our world, that we are in charge. So when something like the Covid-19 pandemic hits us it’s a shock to our whole way of thinking, to our individualistic lifestyles, and it exposes the inequalities and injustices in our world.’
Dr Mirjam Schilling, a researcher at the University of Oxford working on the interplay of viruses and the innate immune system, asks whether viruses are part of God’s creation. ‘This year a virus is affecting all of us dramatically. But are viruses as evil and vicious as we like to portray them?’ she contends. ‘When you look at the pictures and images, there’s symmetry and beauty. We underestimate them because we think only about their function. It’s interesting how they mechanistically work. As we do more research we may be able to use them as a therapeutic agent in some way. I’m quite excited about viruses though I accept this is a very subjective view!’
Christians in Science produces a quarterly magazine, PréCiS, which informs its membership of science and faith events around the UK and Ireland and includes short articles and interviews. A current aim of CiS is to forge stronger links with local churches both to encourage congregations to see how science can enhance faith and worship and to help in outreach events by answering objections to belief based on mistaken ideas of a conflict with science. In these ways, CiS is offering itself to churches as a partner in mission.
• Christians in Science (CiS) will be exhibiting at CRE South West (Westpoint, Exeter, 17-18 March).
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Our next exhibitions
CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey