I have a friend who, in group discussions, frequently begins her sentences with the phrase, “The Bible says.” This is most conspicuous when our discussions touch on matters wherein mainstream science has something to say. These perfect mise-en-scènes are little treats for me. Imagine throwing a giant rock into a smoothly flowing stream. That stream is forever changed. I enjoy watching the reactions of the atheists, agnostics and, especially, the Christians who make up our group. Because we are close-knit friends first and confabulators second, there are the gentle eye rolls from the atheists and agnostics. Gentle because we are loving friends. I always expect those. They are so subtle that I don’t think my friend has ever noticed them. If she has, she hasn’t let it be known. The more intriguing expressions are from the Christians. I’m sure there is a word to describe their expressions, but I don’t know it. There is a tincture of embarrassment, but not quite fully abashed. More like embarrassed plus “thank you for saying something I wanted to say but I didn’t have the courage to say it” plus “I’m not sure I would have said it even if I had the courage to because I don’t know if I agree with your interpretation of that passage of the Bible.” It’s complicated. I know. I’m one of the Christians. I’m also a lifelong mainstream scientist.
If you relate to what I have written above, whether or not you are a Christian, I’d recommend the book “Let There Be Science: Why God Loves Science, and Science Needs God.” The authors, David Hutchings and Tom McLeish, do a wonderful job describing the relationship between science and the Bible such that the reader walks away armed with the knowledge to have intelligent and congenial conversations that touch on topics wherein both the Bible and science have something to say. If you are a Christian and have ever felt that Christendom may be unfairly stereotyped as backward or flat-earthed or even un-intellectual, you should definitely read this book. If you are a non-Christian and have stereotyped Christians with those epithets, you too should read the book.
You will find much enjoyment in the way Hutchings and McLeish present a brief history of science in the context of biblical passages. Presenting history next to the Bible in a way that is entertaining to read is not an easy task, but the authors succeed. Their writing style brings to mind that of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”...very conversational, very approachable, and chalk full of stories worth knowing that you can retell later at parties or entertain folks who think science is boring. I highly recommend the book, especially since Hutchins and McLeish make a good case for the notion that “scientists are God-approved workers.”
David Hutchings is a high school physics teacher in York, England, and Tom McLeish is a professor of physics at Durham University and chairs the Education Committee for the Royal Society of London. Let There Be Science: Why God loves science, and science needs God (Lion Books: January 2017), 206 pages. Available through Amazon (http://a.co/6mlfziz).