The Importance of Engaging Questions around Faith and Science

then you'll have a file

we are recording welcome everyone to

our virtual synod assembly workshop


and science carissa

welcome yes you are our scented

gathering learning time we

hate we couldn't be in person together

but we are still committed to learning


even in the midst of a global pandemic

so we want to thank you all for being

part of this learning opportunity thank


pastor will for hosting this for us and

we're excited to get into our topic

today on

science and faith yeah

thanks um and thanks for all that that

you do karissa and

the senate and the student staff and

glad to be a part of this i agree i wish

we could do this in person with people

in a room

and chatting before and after um but

we do give thanks for technology and

means by which we can we can do this to

together um so yeah this is a a workshop

that i've done before

with other um youth groups and

and congregations and um

assemblies and convo those kinds of

things so

so at the end of this um you know feel

free uh if there's others who are

watching this and would like for me to

do this in your congregation virtually

or at some point we meet together

in 2023 we can um

um do i'll be happy to do this with any

age group

within your congregation with us men's

group women's group youth group uh young

adults uh be happy to do that

uh and so my hope and goal um

is one um to explore the relationship

uh between faith and science and i can

share a little bit history

of my involvement with that and our our


holy trinity in chapel hill kind of our

involvement and then explore some of the

questions that go along with that

and then then some resources so that's

kind of the goal uh

for today and uh again i'm pastor will

rose i'm the parish pastor at holy

trinity lutheran

in in chapel hill um so yeah

um let's see

i did do a little i i don't know if you

guys got it but i gave you guys some


i put out there not sure if you guys

were able to do it

but there's a an excellent podcast an


of um the bible for normal people um

and it's i think it's episode 134 and

it's ilio de leo

grounded um grounding god in love and

she's a fantastic

uh she's a catholic professor and


and none and engages faith in science

really really well i'll talk a little

bit more about some resources that she


but that particular episode of a podcast

whether you listen before this or after

this i highly recommend it she goes


the history of faith and science she

talks about the big questions that are

out there

and and different approaches of how to

engage the questions of faith and


and then shares her her approach and her

posture to it which i think is

everyone should model um their faith in


and the big questions after so that's

something to to think of

so all right um let me share my screen


yeah so this is um hopefully you can see

this can everybody see this yeah

um so faith in science faith versus

science or

faith and science and creating a healthy

conversation between

the mystery and awe of of life

um a little bit about my story i i grew

up in wilmington north carolina i

thought uh

after high school i went to unc

wilmington thinking i was going to go to

marine biology

because basically i wanted to play with

dolphins and surf the rest of my life

but after making a c

in um in biology i had kind of a shift

so i'm i'm not a scientist um

i had some interest in science but

mainly after being a camp counselor and

going to seminary focused on on parish


but my context is is that i'm um

i'm at a congregation and a parish that


in the backyard of university of north

carolina so half the congregation

are either professors or doctors or

scientists sitting sitting in the pew

and over the course of time they've had

big questions about

life and faith and science and integrate

and so we've we've made it a point to

be um open and a safe place

and to create kind of an environment uh

that that we are a safe place to wrestle

with the big questions and think through

faith and science together

um before we go in let's see

my dog has a question um

uh someone got near the house and so he

is um

you know protecting his people that's

what he's thinking

um so a little icebreaker before we jump

into faith and science if you were to


a list of top movie tv

story rivalries think of the big

rivalries in pop culture

what are some of those that you would

think of or be at the top

of of your list batman vs superman

batman versus superman all right two


um they're both superheroes but uh yeah

big different personalities one's um

moral high ground boy scout truth


the american way then you have the

brooding ninja

who is wrestling with pain and trauma

and they both know so yeah good good

call you know

you know a big geek others

um yeah i think again like um

luke skywalker darth vader but i'm also

thinking like um

chicago bears uh green bay packers or

you know uh different different sports

bribery if you're talking about


um that brings sports to mind for me


so not just um you know like superheroes

but then we have the science fiction

i'm a big star wars fan uh luke versus

darth vader

the rebellion versus the empire but then

yeah it doesn't even have to be

like pop culture movie tvs stories uh

rivals rivalries and and sports huge

yeah unc versus duke

um those kinds of things i was raised a

tar heel fan

and uh and yeah even when coach k was


the um american um

olympic team it was hard for me to pull

for the usa basketball team just because

coach k was i was like maybe china's not

that bad

so so yeah rivalries go deep others that

come to your head it doesn't have to be

um just superheroes or pop questions

what are some rivalries you think of

well i watched the debate last night so

there we go


yeah there's a big rivalry between the

big two and politics right

democrats first republicans

yeah big rivalry and a big

struggle and fight for um power money

influence um

yeah good one good one politics uh

cain versus abel what's that

cain versus abel cain versus abel we're

gonna go biblical yeah yeah the first

big conflict

and rivalry within scripture right there


two bro good good pool two brothers in

the same

family tree that are that are rivals

yeah nice

yeah following the lectionary i guess um

jesus and the

chief priests pharisee types a lot of

good conversation there

yeah yeah especially over the last month

or so or a few weeks we've had this uh

clash between jesus and the

religious establishment and my hot take

is that the reason jesus is so

hard on them they're so hard on him is

because they're in the same family

and um of the same

family tree as well and so yeah for for


um light acquaintances i don't i'm not

as hard on them or care as much but


my best friends my family i'm usually

harder on them

than i am those who i just have

superficial relationships with because i

care about them more and i want them to

do better so

uh jesus is pretty harsh because he he

deeply cares

about this tradition that he's uh rooted

in yeah

yeah these are good coming from the

prophet's rebuke of the bad leadership

in in jerusalem and around the temple

much more harsh than

the rebuke of people in general but i'm

sorry i'll stop talking now

no that's good that's good it all

relates we'll get we'll get there that's


um yeah so a couple ones that come to my


yeah ben you hit it uh close to my heart

the struggle

of um the dark side the light side the


uh luke uh vader and then the big reveal

that they're all in the same family and

they're all wrestling with the same big


and again power influence um

popularity and another one that comes to

mind is uh

is rocky and so uh you know when i talk

when i've done this before we talk

i get people at tables and they get to

talk about you know their favorite

rivalries and stuff this is a

generational thing i grew up on

on rocky movies um and and first you


here rocky and apollo creed and of


in the first two they are um big rivals

and they're trying to knock each other

out and they're trying to win that title

and and win that boxing match and uh but

by the time you get to three they become


and they're training together and

because they have a common enemy

that they are are trying to do so so

with faith and science

um yeah it's often seen the stereotype

is faith and science are

at odds that they are clashing that they

are rivals

and that there is this struggle most the

time uh

it's not necessarily even the the nuance

of the questions or what they're trying

to get out but really what they're

really wrestling with of the course of

of the history of faith and science and

this perceived conflict between the two

is this wrestling with uh money power

influence going all the way back to the

uh catholic church with galileo

this this is not really about the

science or interpretation of scripture

as much as it is

who's going to have the influence who's

going to have the power who's going to

have the popularity

and um and so is it a boxing

match and with a knockout blow or or can

is there a way that they can train

together and work together for a common


even though they might be a little

different and have different backgrounds

but what what can they do to work

together in in the midst of this

um and then um you know often

i know uh in my own life uh i have this


of conflict um conflict diverse um i'm


my personally doesn't lend itself mostly

to uh thrive on on conflict i usually

try to avoid it on all costs

um sometimes to my detriment but uh

you know when i hear of tough issues or

tough questions

often i act like my favorite gif of all


um up gonna go the other direction right

i'm gonna go into this room they're

having a conflict

they're having a hard conversation up

i'm out of here i'm going the other

direction no

thank you um but when it comes to

faith and science i think it is vital

and important

that we address these we can't we can't

ignore it um

the temptation is to leave the room or

let other people be a part of that

um but but i don't think this

conversation between faith and science

is an option

i think it's something that um whether

it's youth young adults really disciples

of all ages

uh science is so prevalent mainstream

science is so prevalent in our daily

lives if the church ignores it

um or or fluffs it off

or thinks it's not relevant then we're

going to be perceived

as as irrelevant or not in touch

and that that we can um

so i don't think it's an option to leave

the room i don't think it's an option to

leave the room

um so our story holy trinity how we got


uh faith and science and and dove into

that as i mentioned

um half the congregation are our


students or professors or doctors and

scientists and so

uh usually most of the time whether

small groups or large groups i am

not the the smartest person in the room

there's people with multiple degrees

that do research um in their field and

our influencers all around the world

so i would often get tough questions and

ask how is the church dealing with this

or doing with that and

um and so i had i couldn't ignore it i

couldn't leave the room we have to sit

down so we created some

some scenarios within whether it's

sunday school or workshops we would

often do

um grill pasture will events or

pastor in the hot seat uh and

and my approach would that i would make

at the very beginning i wouldn't say

look i have all the answers i can't wait

to throw any question at me and i can

answer it

it was also it was just creating a space

that questions are okay

nothing's off the table ask me a

question doesn't mean i know the answer

but if you ask me a question i'll be


how i approach it but also if i don't

know then i'll just say yes

great question let me go do a little

research on that let me find a ted talk

on it or a book that would be helpful

and let's get back let's grab some

coffee and

discuss this together let's do this work

together and what that necessarily means

um and then eventually i got uh

our kind of leaders in the congregation

who are scientists or our professors and

i switched it on them and

created panels where where they would be

up front and we'd ask them

questions of what they do in their daily

lives and vocation

and then how do they integrate their

faith a part of their vocation a part of

their science a part of

of their research and some of them have

never thought about that before

or been asked to do that before and so

he gave them a little homework and

again i shared with them they don't have

to have all the answers but just to see

that they're up front

willing to field questions um creates

a permission-giving um environment

for disciples of all ages and then

to say other people who are who are part

of those workshops or conversations to

say you know well i'm not the only one

wrestling with that

you know i have that question too i

thought i was the only one with that

question i'm not

oh you wrestle with that too great so

that's what we did

then eventually

dr al goshaw who's a member of our

congregation who's a

particle physicist at duke who does


over at cern um smashes particles

elementary particles together to try to

understand the fabric of the universe

amazing amazing thing he was even on the

higgs boson

um team that won um

hold on i think there's some

i just want to make sure that there's

someone not waiting to get into


uh i'm gonna un share the screen just so

i can look and see

sorry i just i think

i want to make sure there's nobody

waiting to get in

did you guys see anything it might have

just been me

making i'm not that helpful comment you

know if you saw something flash up

oh that's good yeah feel free to um chat

away but yeah back to it um yeah so

so al goshaw who's assigned to has some

big questions his wife passed away a few

years back very active member of our


and um he was wrestling with grief and

had some big questions he was reading

the scriptures on his own being a


and um trying to read the book of acts

and he's trying to understand miracles

he's trying to understand

um his faith his grief we would often

have coffee and lunches to kind of talk


approach approaches to uh different ways

to approach scripture

in these miracles and these stories and

what's behind it from a scientific point

of view and from a faith point of view

uh and then one of these meetings he

said hey i just heard on a podcast on

bean on npr

uh this conversation between these two

catholic astronomers who are head of the

vatican observatory

father guy and father paul and they were

talking about their new book would you

baptize an extraterrestrial

i think we should read this and discuss

it as a congregation and i was like

awesome so we ordered the book we had a

um about 10 or 15 people that were a

part of this book

discussion that really kind of got us

going deeper into the top questions

around faith and science and i highly

recommend this book it's about

the arrests with like five different

questions the main questions like you

know what's the deal

with the catholic church relationship to


what was the star of bethlehem and then

the last chapter is kind of the

climactic chapter which is uh would you

baptize an extraterrestrial

um spoiler alert um uh

father guy said that he became the base

of this book in this

this chapter was that he was doing a

press conference and

the press over in europe were like

hammering them about

conspiracies and what was going on with

the pope and what was going on the

observatory have they met aliens before

and why is the

why is the vatican keeping secret uh

their secret conversation between us

and extraterrestrials and the other

they're like what is what is going on


and then someone from the crowd asked

would you baptize an extraterrestrial

and then father guy says um

only if she asked to be and so i thought

it was just a beautiful way to answer

that question then really the rest of

the chapter really talks about the

theology of baptism

not necessarily and then what are the

aliens in our midst

it's not just those from outer space but

how do we treat aliens in our midst and

they they confess and repent a little

bit of the catholics colonialism and

and theology of baptism and i think

lutherans would

um line up perfect with what they're

trying to talk about in terms of

theology about it so anyway

as i fantastic book so we did this book

and then in the midst of

this book one of our members

saw this opportunity for a grant

opportunity that fuller seminary was


and they fuller seminar in california

wanted to do give grant money to

congregations for steam science and

theology for indulging

emerging adult ministry so emerging

adult is

another way of saying young adult

emerging adult could be anything from


17 all the way to like 30. so as we are

merging into adulthood what are the

things that we

are wrestling with and so

fuller and other seminaries know that

young adults

and teens and emerging adults are

leaving the church in droves and part of

that reason

is that they perceive the church as


or reluctant to engage science

that they're scientific skeptics that

they don't want to engage

again where that um that gif of the kid

walk in the room and turn around walking

the other way because we don't have the

time or energy to do that

or are we just skeptical to begin with

so that's the perception

and so they wanted to break down that

stereotype and said all right we want


and groups and parachurches to to engage

us so we're going to give you some money


to do a project there are other all

kinds of projects there's like 50

people part of this grant from all over

the country there were some that were

doing ted talk videos that they were

going to spread and go viral some were

doing curriculum and books

our was our approach was pretty pretty

simple we're like we're not going to try

and reinvent the wheel we seriously just

want to

understand what's behind all this and

take a pastoral approach to this so our

our grant name was reconciling the

tension between faith and science in the


setting really proud of that title and

our three parts were

what are the questions how do we address

the questions

and then create lasting and ongoing


and with these conversations that we're



uh any questions so far or thoughts i i

know i'm kind of blazing through here

we'll have some more time to talk

kind of at the end as well um

the um yeah tommy's got a question

oh no i was going to talk about when you

say like baiting and switching what's an

example of that

yeah so first part we wanted to be um

we want to ask one of the questions so

we created events with our

young adults in campus ministry at unc

and around

around the synod um and around the

triangle duke state

uh east carolina uh meredith college

um north carolina so we were like let's

do events and we're gonna do a faith and

science event and we

we seriously want to know your questions

now we want to be up front that this

isn't like coming to our

church space you're going to ask your

question and they're going to talk about

how your question is wrong and that

you're unorthodox or that this is a bad

place to be so let us tell you all the

answers and how you need to approach and

save you from heresy so we just wanted

to say there's no

um bait and switch there's no like

agenda here other than we

legitimately just want to know your


so we did coffee and cookies we had some

round um

table forums and conversation then yeah

what are the questions you wrestle with

and then sitting in the midst even that


you know one of our students was sitting

beside one of our members who was

getting this doctor in astrophysics and

and matthew was sharing openly kind of

what he wrestles with in terms of

uh the universe and how he interprets

scripture and he's just being honest and

vulnerable and they're creating these

things and

and the student beside him was like you

know what i thought i was the only

one who had that question

and we're like no people have been

asking that question for thousands of


and we're asking that question you're

not alone so just that solidarity that

you're not alone in asking these


was um man so so helpful and

if we were to stop there it would have

been a successful that one story would

have been successful to get the grant

money and do the work to put in that

grant so

that's what we did asked the questions

um then addressing the questions we have

a list of questions we'll go over that

in just a little bit some questions so

how do we address the questions we

again wanted to create this atmosphere

of a safe space the way you can ask the

questions and how do we address it and


we wanted to make sure that we weren't

saying all right it's time to answer

these questions

really it was like um question and


um addressing the question not answering

the questions because everybody wants

like a tweetable

answer and they can solve the problem

and move on to the next thing

but it was like look most these

questions people have written volumes

and volumes and volumes over them and

still haven't

haven't reached a point where they feel

comfortable with it but how do you

address the questions and so we went out

there and found some authors and

speakers and podcasters to do some live

events one

was uh mike mccarthy we brought him in

he was putting out

his first book finding god in the waves

and he was going on tour and so we had

some great audience

and woody was like you know such a good

one um

again he's protecting me from bears

behind me or whatever werewolves are out

in the woods

um so we brought in brought in science

mike it was is really

neat event like we for the science mike


um at that point in his life where he

was doing this book tour

and um and podcasting

that our church seats around 300 when we

have put all the chairs in there in a

certain city

it was uh maybe 350 people

came to this event and and mainly

he his approach to questions he he says

i'm not a scientist but i'll do some


but his pastoral approach of just

addressing the question in a safe space

we had people that were churched and

people who have never been to church and

people who

have left the church came back into our

church just so they could hear

science mike address these questions

now the key part for me was

going to lunch with him before uh this


and we're talking and picking his brain


what he's doing and how he does it and

he's definitely a interesting dude

and and so much that he wrestles with

but but is also a genuine authentic

heart and

i was really proud and kind of bragging

about our

reconciling our project name reconciling

the tension between faith and science

and university setting

and he kind of stopped and looked at me

and said uh all right why do you want to

reconcile the tension

i was like well it's easy i don't wanna

i don't like

tension i don't like conflict i'm that

baby who wants to leave the room i'm out

of here

um i wanna solve it because it makes me


and then he said this is i'll never

forget it he said the tension but but


you may use this music analogy that

really is the tension on the guitar and

violin string

that creates the music sure one of the

worst sounds

in the world is an out-of-tune violin

right if you hear it you're like ah

that sounds horrible it's the worst but

if you tune it

it could be the most beautiful thing

you've ever heard and so too often

faith and science become that out of

tune guitar

or violin where people don't want to

hear that and so they avoid it

or you have the two extremes the

fundamentalists like richard dawkins

fundamentals atheists who's like ah

you know religion is evil we gotta

destroy and get rid of it and then you

have ken ham on the other side of

fundamentalist young earth creationist

who's like yeah all science is wrong and

we just got to take the bible literally

that's the out of tune this conversation

between the two

are is that out of tune violin and so

he he said he challenged us he goes

don't get rid of the tension

perhaps you can just create a better


create a healthy conversation between

faith and science to where people

want to listen to that music hear that

music dance to that music

meditate to that music uh party to that


um and so then we we shifted

we pivoted it made a shift so we evolved

our project's name we moved away from

reconciling the attention to embracing

the tension he said all right let's sit

with it

let's see let what better song can we

can we

play or present to the world and then

ask people to join into this dance of

the mystery of life

and so really when it comes to um the

approach to faith and science there's

there's different approaches and they

talked about this in that podcast um

the bible for more people that you know

there's this idea of

conflict um rocky luke and vader

um duke in north carolina basketball

we're going to beat you

we're going to brag when we do um so

we're going to there's conflict and it's

a fight to the end

um fight to the death and then there's

another approach of independence well

a lot of people approach it this way too

all right science do your thing

faith religion do your thing

stay in your lane do do what you do best

and we'll do what i'll do best and

maybe we live in the same neighborhood

but but we'll we may wave to each other

a couple of times as we pass by

on the sidewalk or we're in our cars but

let's just kind of stay in your lane

then the other approach is dialogue and

conversation how can we have

conversation and create a relationship

here where we can help each other out or

understand each other better and then

what i what i

push for um is this idea of integration

and collaboration how can we work

together for the betterment and

flourishing of

of humanity and and often you know how


no one relationship emerges the exact

same right there's um

you know how you meet people whether you

meet someone in a coffee or a church or

um at a comic-con or at a convocation


sit down and have a meal together how do

you break the ice how do you get to know

each other better

it can sometimes start with conflict and

then there's independence but the other

conversation and dialogue

leads to integration and collaboration

and our approach with this with this

particular project

was always a pastoral approach and and

you know when i go and sit by a hospital

bed and someone's asking some big

hard questions or someone in their life

has died

um they asked some big questions why did

god let this happen

does god perform miracles yeah there's

there's answers and things that i

that i found helpful but often it's not


me giving them an answer that's gonna

make it better it's often just sitting

with them and giving them permission to

ask those questions

and saying yep this sucks yep

i'm with you and you know what maybe

down the road line we can read a book

together and talk and wrestle with these

things but right now i'm just going to

be present with you

i'm going to sit with you and walk with

you through this journey

of grief or transition that's in your

life and so the same thing when it comes

to people asking these big questions

often they're

they're deconstructing an elementary

understanding of

uh the bible and trying to grow into a

deeper understanding of scripture

and so they're letting go of some aspect

of their life

and growing into a new aspect and so

being a pastor through those life and

faith transitions is important

and asking questions about science and

not seeing god it's just a

santa zeus on a cloud in space

ready to throw a lightning bolt at you

when you cuss to have a deeper


of god um so that's kind of where where

we've been

um let's see

top question so in the midst of this

some of the questions that we've seen

um are really probably no surprise

but it's creation evolution

big bang cosmology and how do we

interpret genesis

into someone human origins how do we


or create a healthy collaboration

conversation between

the creation story and how we understand

uh the universe

and and really what's behind all this is


um you know how do our scientific

understanding universe how does that


to a faithful approach to scripture and

in that podcast with illio

is they talk about that a lot how we

understand the universe is

is different um and it continues to grow

and evolve

so how they the authors of genesis how

they understand the universe is


how we now understand it now or how

newton and galileo how they understood

the universe is different to how

um quantum physicists now understand the

universe there's things that newton and

galileo thought were

real and fixed uh the quantum physicists

are like nope that's not how it works

uh this there's some different

approaches so there's this constant

um evolution of how we understand the

universe as we learn and grow

but then how do we continue to remain


to scripture and also embrace

and take seriously credible and

mainstream science

and that's mainly what's at the heart

of our ministry with young adults in

campus ministry to help them think

through those things

now again not every question is easy

there's often tension there's often

like how do i wrap my head around this

but again sit with that tension for a


don't be afraid of it um again what do

you agree

um again other questions

uh in a chaotic and evolving huge

universe do we even matter

and this is a big question with with

pretty all people you know um

materialism versus spiritual is

everything by chance or is there a


rm are we a mistake and then you know

the problem of pain and suffering

in this world is a big question that

kept coming to the surface

also miracles how can miracles um


with with science prayer jesus

resurrection easter

um of course youth what's the deal with


again that's kind of the age of the

universe age of earth

um and then um another big question what

would it mean if we

and uh did discover intelligent life in

the universe how would that change our


of the human

place in the universe if we're not alone

um for me it expands it it makes it

deeper for others it causes a big

problem because then humans aren't

at the center of the universe anymore so

what does that mean

um bioethics humans in tech artificial

intelligence all those come to the

surface as well

so this is kind of the big big questions

that we kept seeing come to the surface

that people wanted to

to talk about and discuss and really at

the heart of it was

all right how am i going to take

scripture seriously and how do i take


science conversation if i was in your

congregation or with a small group

i would then create a round table where

we would say what questions do you

connect with or wrestle with the most

and then is there a question that you

would add to the list

and then where have you experienced

faith and science create

beautiful music in your context so going

back to that question

those questions um where we look at the


yeah we're recruiting along um what are

some questions here is there a question

here that sticks out for you

is there a question you would add to

this list

is there something that you heard a

different take on it in your context in

terms of parishioners

youth um family members

um communities that you're a part of so

i think for the last one the bioethics

and the human technology

um i could be wrong but i think there

were two

noble laureates with chemistry

that were able to do something with

genetic code modification

so and when i so dr mchanon

lr uh she got a grant the same grant

that uh holy trinity got

um and she did a class called science

faith and ministry

yeah and when we talked about bioethics

we talked about

what if you can essentially change a

genetic code

in a child in utero

when the scans say your child could have

the genetic

for this disease and you have the

ability then to

have that altered to how to essentially

erase that um disease

what essentially will you be playing god

by doing that

exactly great question great great

thought so

there's that um you know conflict

independence conversation

collaboration where science can often


um religion spirituality faith


for for what it's doing and then

philosophy theology

religion can also ask some big questions

of science just because you can do it

should you do it

um those big questions uh

just because you can genetically alter

a human being or whatever should you

let's slow down so often perceived as


religion says slow down means that

they're averse but maybe

we're asking some big moral questions of

whether whether we should

or not um and also with that

um if we have that our base our


framework that all of creations may or

that we are all made in the image of god

and then we have the ability to

change something in utero

what does that mean for the image of god

exactly um and i look at as like again

um there's also some uh i guess

often religion spiritually will cause

alarm and

and be alarmist to say hey you're

playing god you're doing these things


in the same way as what we do with the

gifts that we have so yeah i am so

thankful for tynol and advil

and pain medicine that can help my

arthritic knee

so that can keep surfing right but then

if you take that too far

and you take those drugs and painkillers

a different way and you have kind of

opiates and drug addiction

there's ways that people abuse that so

same way with science

there's things that we can do uh that

can help human flourishing

and that god gave us the the gifts and

the ability to get creative and to learn

and to help people

um and then but but then what do we do

with those gifts how are being good

stewards with those gifts

to do it in a way that helps people

helps human flourishing there's a

there's a

an element of of science and kind of

progress that talks about transhumanism

which is this understanding of of human

humans merging with technology

so so think the extreme of like

the borg and and star trek so we become

cyborgs you put a chip in your brain or

you have a cybernetic eye those kinds of

things right

so um that can be scary

there's whole apocalyptic movies of like

terminator of what happens when robots

and ai

and humans emer you know emerge and and

kill we

but then again there's elements of

transhumanism that i'm so thankful for

like you know

uh let's see chris and ben are wearing

glasses you're already using technology

to help enhance your eyes

so you can see better my dad has a

pacemaker so that he can live

an extra 20 years um and he's emerging

with technology

um there are many friends i'm diabetic i

haven't got one of those pods you stood

up stick on your side but you know again

friends and diabetic friends who who

have machines attached to their body to

help regulate

uh the blood sugar in their stream so

they're they're merging with technology

you think transhumanism um yes religion

philosophy should ask the question

all right when do we stop remaining

human what does it mean to be human

how does this uh devalue humanity

or or our lives and what enhances it so

those questions again a perfect example

thomas of what you bring up in terms of


and how faith and science can have

conversations together

um that can that can help for human

flourishing but also

be wary and say all right um let's think

through this philosophically and morally

and theologically of how we understand

god in the universe

yeah well i think that the i'm sure that

it's just sort of

woven into the questions that are

already here but it feels like in the

year 2020

an obvious question would be

how do we um trust science in our daily


without falling into the person of faith

pitfall of saying well i'm just going to

trust god rather than trusting the


that's out there it's so obvious with

the virus where

especially as a person of faith um you

know people see me wearing a mask and

they're like hey don't you trust god to

like protect you from this virus and

sort of feel the need to respond and say

you know god works through

scientists and doctors and folks who are

all telling us that you have to

you we ought to be wearing masks and

keeping distant right now and things

like that and so

um there certainly is a tension there

not a good answer but

um how do we make it clear that as

people of faith we trust

god to work in multivalent and complex

and sometimes obvious ways uh in our

daily lives

another way that it might touch our be a

touch point

in our regular living would be climate

change you know

in the ways that people talk about the

dominion of

genesis 2 and 3 and then to say

you know we we trust that god is is

empowering us to care for the planet

and that um you know that that causes us

to make different choices in daily life


someone who just says hey god's going to

take care of it or we were told

to subdue it or you know something like

that and

when the science is clearly saying that

our activity as humans

is um killing our planet so that's just

a couple ways i'm sure it comes up in

all different ways but

yeah how do we how do we talk faithfully

about trusting science

as it changes our choices in daily life

toward healthy living

and caring for each other and the planet

i mean i think that's

become even more important here in the

year 2020.

yeah i did i did this um kind of

workshop and in this powerpoint with

um uh paul warner's church in

in winston-salem and so when we did this


year and a half ago or two years yeah

pandemic and virus was not

at the top of the questions right so

this virus has been

apocalyptic in a sense that it has

unveiled and revealed

our deep connection with one another and

how everything's interconnected with one

another and

and uh how we approach science or not

because you know there is that kind of

element i have faith i'm just you know

i'm god's gonna take me when god takes

me but you know what i have faith and i

also wear my seatbelt

you know i have faith and i also wear a

life preserver when i go in a boat in a


sea so so there's a lot of things that

take precautions

um i i believe and and god in a deep

faith but i also want

my pilot flying that plane to have a

degree and has lots of experience in pla

and flying that plane um

and then the other approach is like kind

of scientism where uh we're gonna ignore


philosophy morality and we're just gonna

focus on the science and science can fix

everything too

and we're just gonna go uh there's this

sense of materialism and sciencism

that that's the the main thing that

needs to be focused on

and you know religion stay in your stay

in your lane and you believe in

santa claus and fairy tales as much as

you want um i'm gonna do the real things

over here

when we're like you know what um you

know saint nicholas you know

when you believe in sin or not saint

nicholas was like a real person

and there's some stories behind that

let's have a deeper understanding of

what that means

so anyway there's those extremes and i

think environmentalism

environment stewardship dominion versus

servanthood and stewardship is a big


especially emerging adults of of how the

church has perceived and

how faith and science can come together

um it's great

and man let's come to the surface turn

masks that's just how we approach masks

vaccines science is a microcosm of

what's going on

kind of underneath the surface when it

comes to faith and science together

another opportunity to

to share another reason why to have

these conversations so important in our

communities of faith

other questions


there's a kind of main ones there

there's definitely ones that um

keep coming to the surface but there's

also some really really good ones out


let me share kind of what we've learned

out of this one

don't be afraid of the questions it's

easy to get defensive i think in my

younger ministry days and whether it's

youth minister

or or first years as a pastor when

people ask questions i would often get


and and be like well i gotta answer this

or save their faith and if i don't

answer this then they're gonna fall away

and leave and

so but but as i've gotten older or i


approach these questions more it's been

like don't be afraid of the questions or

sit with the questions like you know


you're not alone great question i've

asked that some of the greatest thinkers

and people of faith have also wrestled

with and thought thought about these

questions before and you're you're not

alone so again don't be afraid of the


and how you approach that makes a

difference don't run from the tension

embrace it

immersion adults in the world are

searching for a safe place in an


space to wrestle with these questions

and if you provide that

um it's it's it's gonna make a world of


and then you can be honest and say you

know what we're gonna ask these

questions but i don't

i don't have to answer them all let's

explore these together there's a lot of

smart people out there who have great

books and podcasts that talk about this

more than i do um also it's important to

define terms

and i think this is huge when you're

gathering for these conversations

don't assume that people know what

you're talking about avoid cliche

avoid the stereotypes when someone

starts talking about god what do you

mean by god

what do you mean by faith what do you

mean by science what do you mean by


oh man there's no one what do you mean

by the bible

even when someone says they're an

atheist there's more than one way to be

an atheist just like there's more than

one way to be a christian

so if someone said they don't believe in

god i'm like okay tell me about the god

you don't believe it

and if it's that stereotype of like an

angry male in the sky

ready to like smite people for for

um you know eating too much fast food or

have road rage then guess what i'm i'm

atheist towards that god too let me

share with you the god that i believe



whenever people are defining atheism

and say it's like they don't believe in


i'm normally quick to make the argument

it's like you need

you need to have enough faith to be an

atheist to not

like there yeah because one

i think it was paul tillich said we're

all we're all atheists

and some in some form or shape and one

of his

volumes of cis mythology said we're all

we're all atheists

um but when people make the claim it's

like well atheists believe in god it's

like well what do you mean by that

it's like it takes enough faith to be an


um but also with that and when people

are talking about faith

uh and thank god for greek works word


um the passage i'm doing for my midterm

i went through all of mark and faith is

a verb

so going with that it's like it's faith

merely this or it's faith that

acting yeah i think i think there's

this kind of stereotypical view of an

atheist stereotypical view

of a christian or the church and then

breaking down those

those um stereotypes there's a ted talk

the danger of the single story

um that i highly recommend for people

cindy shows it in her education classes

all the time and

and talks about race and racism and and

the identities that

that um that embrace us and that we


um danger of the single story so that

definitely applies to the church to

faith to science to atheism agnosticism

we're all

there's a grand spectrum of faith and

there's grand spectrum of disbelief and


and again doubt and faith aren't

exclusive to one another but they're

great dance partners

so and they go hand in hand in terms of

our of our lives

the gospel of mark epitomizes that it's

like the entire gospel is

faith and doubt literally dancing with

each other

um yeah yeah and so yeah

if you keep it in their time we learned

there's a ton of resources

uh man i'm just barely over being a part

of this for the last five years or so

they're just

barely scratching the surface of the

books and the resources the podcasts and

conversations that are happening

um when it comes to having this


and so again um you know i'm big geeks i

like comic-con

and i uh i'll go to com account and and

do panels and geek out on things and

people like find out that i'm a lutheran

pastor like but wait a minute you know

how does that work

um how can you have these things i'm

like look

aren't faith and science or these things

you geek out kind of

exclusive one another i know there's a

lot of people doing great conversations


we create we created a website um

emerging out of our grant is

way like dormant like i haven't touched

it and it should be updated

big time but if you go there you can

definitely see some of the stuff we've

done and some of the resources that that

we put up there

there is a elca lutheran alliance for

faith science and technology

i'm on their board um it's a small group


have a small presence at youth


and they have a newsletter and they're

on twitter and they have we're going to

try to create um

a video series if i'm lutheran and a

scientist and have some scientists that

are lutheran

and share kind of their experience

approach to vocation

so if you don't follow that or get on

their newsletter i highly recommend it

science for the church

are a couple people who work with this

steam grant

evolved into this new grant that they


called science for the church and they

have a newsletter and a website

i highly recommend getting their

newsletter they send an email out once a

week or so about different approaches

everything from problem of pain to


to race and science

those kinds of things as well biologos

is on the forefront

and probably the biggest of all these

francis collins who big big

in faith and science um he created

biologos as kind of a website and a

resource to help people who are

wrestling with those questions they have

a podcast as well

and uh highly recommend that website and

if you have a question

there's somebody who's on that website

who've blogged about it or talked about

it or written something about it

the omega center um i was able to come

down a little bit again this is ilio de


man she's brilliant what a sharp human

being she is like

listen to her read her go to that

website listen to that podcast

man she's so good um and then there's

authors and this is just like

barely scratching the surface paul

wallace we've done a book study about

him he has a book called

love and quasars that we did fantastic


encourage you to read would you baptize

an extraterrestrial heidi russell

is also a catholic theologian uh

young in her 30s maybe 40s and she wore

a book called quantum chef that blew

my mind her science is good her theology

is even better

she is fantastic andy root

teaches our seminary he's great does

youth ministry he

um exploding stars

and zombies and something such a good

book like how does

how do you do faith in science in the

context of youth ministry fantastic

francis collins language of god created

by a logos

um read language of god barbara holmes

is um

a theologian um woman of color who wrote

a book

um called race and uh the cosmos

and where she integrates um race and

racism and faith and science together

super good and how she approaches that

book as

all right um this stereotype that light

is good dark is bad

and um you know that goes down to people

justifying racism you know what there's

fabric of

there's this fabric of the universe

that's holding us together that could be

called dark energy

or dark matter and it's reason that

we're here

and uh maybe we can use some of those

images and talking about

uh joy and uh human flourishing

not just um other kind of

white supremacist dog whistles for how

we understand the universe so

barbara holmes really good uh greg

kusana he uh

spoke at our convo a couple years back

and wrote a book called

mere science and the christian faith

really good and then john polkenhorn is

a heavyweight

uh is he's a physicist and

a scientist but also an anglican priest

over in europe

he's written many many books his one

book belief in god in an age of science

is fantastic not very not very thick um


really really well done as well

so that's a lot um yeah we're getting to

is 1201. let's uh do one more slide


and again i encourage you as we think

through this um read

psalm 8 and then psalm 104 is pretty

long as well but i think these two

psalms and prayers

and hymns and poetry really capture how

faith and science

can find common ground because the

common ground between faith and science

is this mystery of standing before the

mystery of

life and and asking big questions like

where did we come from

where are we headed is there anything

behind it all

and there's a plethora of how people ask

those questions where do we come from

well there's a scientific understanding

of that there's also

a theological one as well where are we

heading where are we going

again you know should we create

pacemakers should we genetically alter

human beings um what what are where we


and there's anything behind it all is it

just random is it are we just one big


or is there a divine love and purpose

that's behind it all

amen woody amen

here's a truck you know he's got to

protect the house

uh so yeah right and i would often um

either before or

after doing a workshop or if you're

doing this within your contacts whether

it's with a youth group

or confirmation or men's or women's

group or or

any kind of sunday school class that you

could either start or end with

reading psalm eight and reading some one

of four is

pretty pretty long but you could even

break it up in the stanzas and have

people read it around the room almost

liturgical response and there's even a

line in 104 that god created the

leviathan just for the sport of it

so what's the deal with dinosaurs um you

know what i don't know

but there's a scripture verse that talks

about the leviathan

that god created just for the fun of it

just for the sport of it

and we're a part of this grand plan uh


right there's my

powerpoint thoughts questions ideas um

ahas things that um perhaps

you knew or didn't know or anything

different from this

i would also add to your list uh pastor

will elizabeth

johnson she's a feminist

catholic theologian at fordham she wrote

a article called for gods to love the


really good read and she also wrote a

book on

um i forget what it's called i can

once i find it i'll send it to pastor

will and carissa and then y'all can

distribute it but it's a really good

read uh

that was one of the textbooks for dr

makan's class um

but she what she does is she takes a

look at

um the theory of natural selection

and then it puts that through a

theological lens

um it's a very good read um


yes yeah yeah there's so much stuff i've

heard of her name before and i may have

heard of

a podcast which she's been on um and

there's so much good stuff there's

another book man i forgot the um

the author's name ken somebody but uh

finding darwin's god

is another another one because obviously

he kind of pit darwin versus

you know he was anti-science or anti oh

no not into anti-faith

entire religion and it's kind of this

evolution created this expanse of

of skepticism uh when we gave the world


permission to do that but really he

talks about kind of darwin's background

his thoughts um and what it what it

opens up

for folks to do too so

good good we'll appreciate y'all i

appreciate you being here and being a

part of this

and we can share this around the senate

and again

if anybody would um like me to lead this


their congregational ministry context

would be happy to do that

and then keep the conversation going

again i can't um

in terms of where do we go from here um

you know what's next i i just i can't

i can't uh encourage our church and

congregations enough to to continue to

create a

safe and brave space for people to be

able to ask their questions

and even if you don't have the answer or

it can be a hard question just allowing

them to know they're not alone with


is good and then also in preaching and

teaching to to allow people know that

i integrate scientific terms or words or

thoughts to to be

to show my cards that i am science

believing person of faith

um and to not hide that or keep it to


when it comes to preaching and teaching

and then get your scientists involved

you don't have to be in a university


uh to have scientists involved if you're

not by university that has a

a particle physicist or astrophysicist

as a part of your congregation i

bet you have a teacher that teaches the

middle school biology

or or teaches chemistry or

someone in your congregation that works

in the sciences

in their own life when it comes to

research or or technology

and bring them on board to have these

conversations create a panel of experts

to say this is how i integrate

faith and and and job and life and


uh together

yeah just to touch back and on my

comment earlier too i think it's maybe

a great time right now in pastoral

ministry to open up

that kind of a thing i'm thinking in my

own context in

little cherryville outside of charlotte


asking a couple of our scientist

members to talk a bit and just just make

it a

a week by week series for a while while

we're not gathering

just invite people to to join on zoom


and just kind of do some of the things

like what you were doing have some

powerpoint but also open it up to

questions and

um i think i would want to lead it

toward um

the idea that we can trust science in

our daily lives as people of faith we

don't have to

um be afraid of what the scientists are

saying we don't have to

feel uh what one congregational member

emailed me this morning and said

during the debate last night when i

heard we have to trust the science

i got an icy chill down my spine because

i know that

the death of christianity in our country

and i was like

dude different narrative different uh

quite where i'm at but okay let's talk

about that yeah what's your theory

what's behind that right then like

what's um like

they're scared that the church is going

to lose power and influence

and and money when it comes to that but

how can we work together so yeah so that

pastoral approach is like great question

tell me more why is that scary to you


what's behind that for you and um yeah

creating like cybernetic um

humans genetically altered is scary it's


but you know what there's people doing

open-heart surgery right now

they're literally saving lives so that's

science and and in their lives that

technology is helping us so yeah how do

we trust the science

and also trust that um that

that there is something behind it all

and gifted people so yeah

i applaud that and often you know kind

of a icebreaker would be

kind of share different approaches also

creating like kind of a

conversation covenant of like all right

we're going to ask these questions but

we're not here to fix the other

person's question or answer it for them

so so let

people ask their questions we're not

going to answer any of this time we're

just going to collect it

and we're not here to fix anybody later

on down the road

we'll we'll read some books to address

the questions and then find like a cool

book from like culkin horner that

i tell you that um it's such a pastoral

approach and easy

not not a hard read at all that would

you baptize an extraterrestrial

is a really good book five big questions

you can take one question

at a time there's a dialogue that

they're having between the two

that's that's really neat so doing a

book study

um to help break the ice and

show people how that conversation can

happen and how people articulate it

and model that for them is really


i love in that book just very quickly i

really like in that book how they deal

with the idea of mystery

and how it feels like in science a


is a bad thing to be solved whereas in


mysteries are to be sort of uh

dived into welton um and things like


yeah so that that may well be where we

started our congregation but

um yeah and i appreciate appreciate

the conversation here so thanks you got


yeah and i think you know um the church

emerging out of the enlightenment

or this kind of modern scientific age

has been

uh the fundamentalist approaches that we

got to make the bible

uh just as answerable and do away with

the mysteries and as a how

we're gonna build this structure that's

unmovable over against what they're

doing on this other side

now becomes a house of cards you take

one thing away the whole thing falls

down where i'm like it's not a house of

cards i can

hold these two mysteries together

mystery is a great thing the early

church all the way up

through the middle ages like really


mystery and awe as a part of it above

both end

kind of kind of thing not just like it

has to be this or this if not

um so it takes some time to do that

people have been raised in a certain way

for a long time

it's hard to kind of think through that

but i think again that pastoral approach

of permission giving with

questions and safe space isn't good it's


i wonder if we would ever get to the

place here in cherryville where i can

say like

maybe genesis 1 is the story of

evolution like

without half the church just leaving i


what parish are you in cherryville you

don't want me asking

saint john's in cherryville oh cool

where eric shoulders used to be

cool yeah and you can look at genesis as

that um

it never was meant to be again we're

answering questions but like yeah look

what's evolving here what's emerging

what is it

where that what is the author trying to

do in their context of who they're

trying to portray god to be

over against this other pantheon of gods

that creation emerged out of

conflict and humans were born out of

blood from the ground of a dying god i


and then all right the hebrews are like

ah that's not the god i believe in you

know if you're atheist

towards this um warrior god that died


humans emerged out of the mistake of

their you know guts

then here's another approach god created

and said it was good

so there's there's context and nuance

there too

what he says

ah he's a personality cool well thank

y'all peace i'm gonna stop recording

and then


we can say about each other stop