Science in the (Church) News

The Church Times this week ran a comment piece by Dr Mark Vernon on the current goings on in the study of evolution. As Dr Vernon points out in his article, evolution is often at the centre of the Science-Religion debate. The theory of evolution has been understood to challenge many beliefs of the Christian faith, and those of other religions. Prominent among the beliefs that evolution calls into question are the belief that humanity was uniquely created, separate and distinct from other animals, and the belief that humanity - and, indeed, all life - was created for a purpose. I don't think that the challenge to these beliefs need undermine anyone's faith, however. In fact, it is probably extremely healthy to face the fact that human beings were not created independently of all other creatures. We are, in fact, intimately connected to our fellow creatures and the planet that we share with them. Reminding ourselves of this could provide a bit of much needed humility as we consider the many problems facing all life on earth, such as global climate change and the unprecedented rate of species extinction, that have their origins in human activity. And as for the question of purpose, if we believe in God, then it is reasonable to believe that God would use the natural processes of the universe, evolution included, to bring about his purpose for creation.


The Church Times article points out that evolution is a complicated process, and biological organisms are not the product of their DNA alone - genetics and environment interact in complex ways. Disappointingly, the article was too short to go into much detail, but it is good to see the church press giving space to the subject. It is important for people of faith to engage with science. Science, after all, is now a part of all of our lives, and science helps us to develop our understanding of the world and how it works. If we beleive that God takes an interest in the world, then there is no reason why we shouldn't do the same.

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