Space for honest questions in the realm of science and faith

Integrating faith and one’s discipline is a challenge for most academics. Those working in a secular setting often struggle with knowing how to allow their faith to affect their academic work. One would think that working for private Christian institutions would make integration of faith and discipline much easier. To some degree it  is, especially because many institutions spend a lot of time reflecting on this challenge. At the same time, there’s not always room for one’s academic side within Christian institutions: what happens when the honest questions (i.e., professional doubting) challenge the beliefs of the system? Evolution is an obvious example of one such challenge, but gender and sexuality is another example, as is the historicity of the Bible.

Karl W Giberson wrote an excellent post about these challenges, especially for those in the sciences. The following is a short excerpt, as an encouragement for you to read the whole article:

Faith and doubt need to go together and the former needs to stop fearing the latter. And by doubt I mean real actual doubt: Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Does the truth of evolution mean that God did not create the world? Does God even exist? . . . Evangelicals seem to view doubt like a cancer. Announce that you have doubts about the existence of God and the response will be the same as if you announced that you have a brain tumor: “That is terrible. I will pray for you.”

My personal history in Christian higher education has driven home this point for me. And recent polls about young people leaving their churches are confirming this. Evangelical colleges insist that their faculty—and often their students—live in a tension that breeds dishonesty. On the one hand, faculty sign documents affirming the mission statement of their employer; and on the other hand, faculty are encouraged to engage in intellectual explorations that might lead them to question that mission statement.

These explorations are not trivial. I have personally known evangelical faculty whose research led them into dangerous precincts. . .                    Read more of Giberson’s essay, along with other essays in God and Nature related to doubt.