I attended the BioLogos 2022 Faith and Science Conference in San Diego, California, last week. Video interviews from the event can be screened here.

BioLogos was founded in 2009 by Francis Collins, a leader within the Human Genome Project, former director of the National Institutes of Health and author of the best-selling book The Language of God.

BioLogos exists to explore God’s word and God’s world to inspire authentic faith with a vision to allow faith and science to work hand in hand. They pursue this vision by following three core values: Christ-centered faith, rigorous science and gracious dialogue.

Speakers at the 2022 Conference included BioLogos president Deb Haarsma, Alister McGrath, David Brooks, Joseph Graves Jr., Lamar Hardwick, Makoto Fujimura, Francis Collins and others. Each brought a unique perspective to the dialogue while demonstrating a shared commitment to Christian faith.

Haarsma and Collins discussed how the pandemic impacted faith and science.  Collins, director of the NIH during the pandemic, emphasized the scientific response to COVID-19. He marveled, “The response from scientists from around the country (and world) was breathtaking. Scientists dropped everything without worrying who got the credit.”

However, Collins revealed his “surprise” at the quick, vigorous and harsh skepticism to the scientific response to the pandemic. Retelling a story about a young white male dying from the virus after denying its existence, Collins recalled, “White evangelicals have been the most susceptible to misinformation.”

Haarsma, talking about faith and science in polarized times, acknowledged the public confusion by reminding the crowd that scientists follow the data. Therefore, if the data changes, so too do the conclusions.

She noted, “Masks or no masks became very complicated,” because of what scientists learned about the virus early in the pandemic. The public was peeking behind the curtain — in real time, with the potential of deadly consequences — to see how science is done.

Haarsma concluded, “Science became a weapon in the culture wars. As the pandemic began (and raged on), the gap in trusting science widened.” Collins added, “Political messaging effectively overtook Christian faith principles.”

Even though the evidence is discouraging, both speakers remain optimistic about faith and science.

Haarsma stated, “Science is a gift from God and remains reliable.” Collins went further: “Many Christians sense that something is deeply wrong. If we reclaim Jesus, then a return to truth and love might be possible. It starts with each of us.”

In Collins’ opinion, BioLogos stands in a unique position to foster the conversation regarding the proper relationship between faith and science.

Noted Oxford theologian Alister McGrath joined the conference through Zoom to discuss the curiosity and wonder behind both faith and science. McGrath declared, “Science enables us to see the world as it really is,” but as humans, we still need to know why we matter.

McGrath argued that humans need existential security. He noted, “My theology will not tell me how far away the stars are and my science will not tell me why I matter.”

In his opinion, science is limited to the natural world, unable to address truthful topics like love and compassion. Faith needs science to answer questions about God’s creation, and science needs faith to offer conclusions on existential matters.

Artist Makoto Fujimura addressed the importance of evolutionary slowness. Both in creation and art, divine slowness is the master craftsperson shaping and molding natural beauty. In a world valuing quickness, the artist argues otherwise: “Most of us think speed is more efficient but creating slowly honors a deeper integration. In the slowness of time, variables come together in a deep and meaningful way.”

Bible scholar Sandra Richter encouraged the crowd that Christians should be at the forefront of the environmentalist movement. As caretakers of God’s creation, people of faith hold a great responsibility to ensure the health and sustainability of the earth.

She recalled biblical passages demonstrating environmental practices throughout Scripture. In Genesis 2:15, humans are told to “tend” and “protect” the earth. In other passages, they are told how to use the land for crops and to make certain it lays fallow from time to time for sustainability.

She remarked that, unfortunately, American politics have thwarted the biblical teachings about creation care but that “the kingdom of God is not about American politics.” Therefore, as Christians, we must work towards a healthier planet as God’s earthly caretakers.

Other speakers addressed a variety of topics, including global warming, disabilities, inclusion, human identity, and faith and science as social action. However, one of the most insightful speeches came from Joseph Graves, Jr., who spoke about the unity and uniqueness of the human family.

To summarize Graves, humans are a unique and complex creation, unlike any other creature on the planet. However, in our complexity, we have also fallen prey to a devastating understanding of ethnicity. Race is a human sociological construct with no basis in science. In fact, humans are so similar in their genetic coding that skin tone is a tiny slither of the genome. It’s statistically insignificant.

Graves said, “We have been dividing people based on social criteria, not biological criteria.” He went on to discuss the irrationality of racism, suggesting, “Bigotry is an irrational hatred of people for unfounded reasons.”

Graves’s remarks parallel the work and words of Starlette Thomas, Good Faith Media’s Director of The Raceless Gospel Initiative.

In the end, the BioLogos 2022 Faith and Science Conference was a fascinating experience. Speakers challenged traditional, preconceived notions about the relationship between faith and science while inspiring the crowd to be caretakers of the earth.

However, one of the most profound conclusions from the conference was the number of scientists who are people of faith. There is a misconception that all scientists are atheists. This is simply untrue. Many scientists are people of deep faith with thoughts and opinions about the divine’s interaction with life. The world needs to hear more of their voices, as Collins encouraged.

Faith and science are not diametrically opposed. They both provide insights and information regarding the complexities and wonderments of life. We should not attempt to make them enemies but let each perform ethically in order to inform the world.

God’s creation is filled with mystery and beauty.  Faith and science can assist our efforts to know and appreciate it. As we allow both to inform us, we might even grow closer to our Creator and each other.

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