Essay: At the Intersection of Faith, Science, and Society
At the Intersection of Faith, Science, and Society
Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided (people).
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
Common stereotypes view science as a lab-bound practice carried out by individuals working in isolation. The reality is that scientific work is highly collaborative, and that science is applied daily in ways that have profound and far-reaching implications for our society. The discoveries of basic science inform, and are informed by, myriad forms of applied science. Both kinds of science feed into, and often depend upon, a variety of technologies that range from smart phones to prosthetic limbs, from vaccines to cars, and from ovens to fertilizers. These technologies, enabled by applied science, continue to shape our society in crucial ways. Science and technology work together for the well-being of our communities and the world around us.
For Christians, the study and practice of science is inextricably linked to the practices of our faith. Christians share a set of motives that shape how we explore, learn about, and care for God’s creation. We recognize that science, as well as all activities, should lead us to love God and our neighbors more deeply, and that we must shape our study and work accordingly.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. rightly points out, we separate scientific power and spiritual power at our peril. When we fail to acknowledge the context of our work in the call to love God and to seek the good of others, we become unmoored. If we lose sight of our God-given motives and fail to cultivate the virtues to which we are called, all of society is impoverished. Remarkable opportunities open up to us when we understand our scientific work as a loving response to the gifts of a loving God, worked out in relationship with our sisters and brothers.
The study of science in school is likewise related to community. As students study together in class, they learn to grow in the virtues needed for constructive collaboration. Student learning can also strengthen relationships outside the classroom as students engage with parents and other adults through creative homework tasks. Classroom learning should take account of the fact that the wider community has a stake in how faith and science are studied. As students learn ways in which science education leads into love of God and neighbor, and service to society, they will see science and technology in their larger context.
Throughout this site you will find activities that promote active engagement between students and society at each of these levels. As a teacher, your role is to help students recognize that science is never a solitary endeavor. Teaching FASTly requires teachers to model what it means to engage society by faithfully pursuing the goal of loving God and our neighbors. It means helping students understand both the obvious and more hidden ways in which their work connects them with society, whether in the classroom or on a global scale. It creates a space for students to reflect on what it means to practice faith and science in a way that honors and benefits the society in which they live.