by Susan Barreto, editor
Evangelizing to the curious
If you are unsure who Robert Boyle was and only remember Boyle’s law from your high school chemistry course, you may be surprised to know that you are missing a big part of who he was.
Boyle’s law describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas if the temperature is kept constant within a closed system. This law is not something most people think about as being all that groundbreaking, which is why we dive more deeply this month into who Boyle was and what he felt was his calling as the first modern chemist and a theologian and philosopher.
As we find out in this month’s edition of Covalence, Boyle was very much an evangelist not only for the book of Nature, but also for biblical insight, having translated the Bible into numerous languages. Boyle is most often celebrated for his contributions to science, so many people may be surprised that his work in science and theology were often intertwined. Ted Davis in his essay outlines Boyle’s belief that, “As rational creatures endowed with an intellect, we alone can contemplate the works of nature and by them acquire a conviction of the existence of their supremely perfect Author. “
Very few scientists would publicly discuss such views today, right? Perhaps not! Astronomer Grace Wolf-Chase, geneticist Francis Collins, and molecular biologist Gayle Woloschak are just a few scientists who regularly say it’s okay to “multi-task” and speak publicly about faith and science. DarkwoodBrew (see this month’s News section) illustrates this idea in “evangelizing” (that is speaking), self-consciously, to those in the pews who are curious about what role science should play in their lives. Francis Collins founded the BioLogos Foundation in 2007 aiming to bring the public’s attention specifically to issues surrounding evolution and faith. A recent round of grant funding (see this month’s News section) hopefully will gear up research that finds its way into the dialogue of the public square. Gayle Woloschak, who will be speaking about genetics and personhood in April at the Goshen Religion and Science Conference (see this month’s Calendar section), has been publicly showing for years how the vocation of scientist doesn’t conflict with Christianity.
So what would Boyle say about the battles over new legislation in Missouri (see this month’s News section)? Would he be the first to speak out publicly or would he be shocked that this debate over what constitutes science is still being discussed? It impossible to know.
But chemically speaking, religion and science have much to learn from one another’s make up. Each has valid claims to the essential matter of truth. Covalence (which means the number of electron pairs an atom can share with other atoms) as a monthly bulletin published by the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology is one attempt to raise awareness of the scientists in our pews who each have a unique story to tell.
Some scientists actively share their views, while others may be uncomfortable with that practice. Others in the sciences may not even understand why there is a need to discuss religion and science as a combined effort of seeking truth and knowledge – as they already live out the strong ‘covalent’ bonds of faith and science in their daily lives.
Whatever the case, the point is that “evangelizing” or intertwining faith and science to the curious is not a new undertaking. This fact runs counter to common statements in the media in the battle over evolution and intelligent design in U.S. schools. In that context, and especially with constant media attention, the inspiring work and stories of scientists are more visible than ever before thanks to the Internet, which makes it easy to bring new material to the discussion—like the news in this Covalence! Intertwining faith and science is not a new undertaking, but perhaps the growing number of people interested in doing so will take it to the next level.
Covalence, March 2013