Why do some church ministries deal with complex science-related questions in their pulpit ministry only infrequently? They seem to revel in simpler, more comfortable questions involving Christian behavior, theology, and doctrine, leaving complex science issues for the science professionals. One reason may be that pastors feel more comfortable dealing with their acknowledged area of expertise. In this day of knowledge specialization there is some wisdom in this approach. Educated people, however, are expected to maintain reasonable expertise in broad areas of knowledge. That is the approach of a so-called “liberal” education.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities has drafted a statement concerning 21st century liberal education. “Liberal education is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e. g. science, culture, and society) as well as an in-depth study in a specific area of interest.”
In terms of a liberal pulpit education, science is a candidate for elevation to greater importance. Our point locates the key to unlock private attitudes concerning the importance of science from the pulpit. Asking the question concerning the importance of science as a pulpit topic generates a plethora of diverse reactions. We have received more positive input concerning the topic of science in general.
When I have introduced my personal “avocation” as a blogger on the interface of science and faith issues, I have often received a warm response. Many respondents report their positive attitudes toward science as a general topic. Church members’ attitudes toward science from the pulpit is somewhat less positive.
Why, we may ask, is the response toward science sometimes less than positive? Many answers could be offered. Topics such as evolution and climate change (global warming) are controversial. Even Christians do not agree on these important issues, not to mention professional scientists. Most similar issues, along with issues of even less theological and global impact, arrange themselves along a philosophical, theological, world view, or opinion spectrum. So arranged, there is plenty of room for individual differences. These differences intermix with shades of truth and personal preference all along the spectrum.
What is the correct question? Is science an appropriate topic to be addressed from our pulpits? Many people stumble at this question. Perhaps the question should not be phrased in this manner. More appropriately the question revolves around the truths we acquire from observing creation itself—not the act of creation—but the created system which surrounds us. The created system speaks volumes about the Creator.