Anglican Perspectives on Science, Faith, and Faithful Living

Introduction

This class will explore the theme of science and Christian faith from an Anglican perspective using insights from contemporary Anglicans, from the Church Fathers, and from Paul Julienne, the class teacher who is a long-time Truro member and a retired professional physicist. Truro firmly embraces its Anglican identity, and many Anglicans figures are doing outstanding work in this area. The “Church Fathers” are Christian teachers and thinkers in the centuries after Jesus, who developed excellent ways to guide us in thinking about the natural world and in faithful living as followers of Jesus.

How we live and work in the contemporary world has been dramatically changed from the world of our ancestors by numerous advancements from the natural sciences—just think of telecommunications, transportation, and medical care. Yet there is a widespread cultural assumption that there is an intrinsic conflict between science and religious faith. It is important—for Christians, for those seeking knowledge of Jesus, and for our culture at large—to address the question of whether science and faith can live together in harmony or not.

The basis thesis of the series is that

there is nothing in the full range of the natural sciences– physical, biological, or bio-medical–that necessarily conflicts with a robust Christian theology centered on the person Jesus of Nazareth understood as being fully God and fully human. For in Christ, “all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17)

This is not to say that there are no points of conflict or difficulty between the sciences and some avenues of Christian thought. Rather, the most fruitful way for science and Christian faith to interrelate to one another is for each to be faithful to the reality with which it seeks to engage in ways that are appropriate to that reality.

The Christian understanding of the union of the human and divine in Jesus is a truly staggering proposition of monumental implications. It implies an intersection of humanity, God, and the world through the particular and unique events of Jesus’ life that should transform our view of Reality and how we live our lives. It is precisely in reflecting on these events that enables Christianity and the sciences to intersect in constructive ways: science engaging with the observable world of natural phenomena; Christian theology engaging with understanding Jesus as uniquely uncovering for us, as it were, the “face of God.” The intersection of science and Christian faith should lead to wisdom, not conflict, and enable human beings to live in hope for the future.

Schedule of classes

7:30 – 9 PM, Tuesdays, Sept. 22 – Nov. 17, 2020 (skip Nov. 3). A Zoom link will be provided to registrants.

  1. Sept. 22: Introduction.
  2. Sept. 29: What is science and what is it not?
  3. Oct. 6: What do we mean by faith?
  4. Oct. 13: Faithful knowing in science or faith: commitment and participation.
  5. Oct. 20: How can science and faith relate: some key theological words.
  6. Oct. 27: Seeing the hand of God in the world: liturgy-assisted living.
  7. Nov. 10: Creation ex nihilo: what the world is.
  8. Nov. 17: Summary and wrap-up.

There will be time for questions and class discussion. Any question is permitted, but always be courteous and respectful of one another, especially if there are differences of opinion on controversial topics.

The links below give written material and slides for each of the classes.

  1. Link to Introductory class material.
  2. Link to Class 1 material: Science
  3. Link to Class 2 material: Faith
  4. LInk to Class 3 material: Faithful knowing
  5. Link to Class 4 material: Relating science and faith
  6. LInk to Class 5 material: Faithful living
  7. Link to Class 6 material: Creation ex nihilo
  8. Link to Final summary class material