Here in Part II, Sr Mary Farrelly and Mrs Aira Chilcott present their own ideas about science and Christianity without even mentioning this topic. Their views show that Faith is not just a 'one-stop shop' as it is sometimes presented; and neither is science. These are not necessarily the opinions of anyone associated with Well-Being Australia or 'Basil Sellers' Press Service International.
Questionnaire sent to three scientists who are Christians.
1. What are your scientific and any theological qualifications; and what job do you do now?
2. Please describe your religious affiliation, and/or attitudes to your faith, and/or some other comment about Christianity in your life.
3. Why did you decide to become a scientist? Have you had any previous jobs, in the area of science.
4. (a) If you have any conflicts between your faith and your science, how do you resolve them or deal with them OR
(b) If you see no conflicts between your faith and your science, can you please explain why not.
Sister Mary Farrelly. B.Sc (ANU), Dip Ed (SCVH), B.Theol (MCD), M.A. (Theol) ACU.
1. am a Marist Sister giving pastoral care in Central Western Queensland. (www.rok.catholic.net.au)
2. Religious Affiliation: Catholic
3. I didn’t decide. My religious superiors decided for me: a science teacher was needed and as a young ‘nun’ who had passed Leaving Certificate Chemistry (then the final high school exam in NSW), I had some background! Biology was my main focus for 25 years, and for some of time I was also co-ordinator of Religious Education at a Catholic High school developing a new programme based on the guidelines of the Sydney Diocese. Later (for 11 years) I was a Chaplain to students and staff at a University. In formal teaching of religious education and informal discussions, I often used examples from science to illustrate a point! I still do that today.
4. (b) I see no conflict between science and faith. In my understanding, the objective of both science and religion in their pure form is the pursuit of truth and so there can be no conflict. At any given point in time they may seem to be on separate paths, they may in fact be on separate paths due to human limitation and misunderstanding - Galileo and the Church; Darwin and the Church - but ultimately they will come together. Human perception and human language are limiting factors, not to mention such characteristics as impatience and pride which can set people at odds both in the cause of faith and science. I think that a kind of fear can prevent openness. What I have learnt in science – consider the cell for example - has led me to marvel all the more about the mysterious Being whom we call God!
I went through a period of months in first year University science when I didn’t know whether I could believe in God any more – the content of lectures was presented in such a way that there 'seemed' no need for God; 1965 was a time of inner turmoil! I can’t exactly say how I came to a personal, deeper faith, no longer simply an ‘inherited faith’ so to speak. Perhaps it was overcoming an unidentified fear of letting go the neatly packaged religious background with its foundations in Thomistic philosophy (with its affiliation with Aristotle) and reaching a personal understanding of theology. (If you want to review any of Mary's historical or philosophical references, an easy-to-read book is by James Hannam. 2009. “God's Philosophers.” Icon Books)
Mrs Aira Chilcott. Bsc (Hons) (ANU), M Contemp Sci (ANU),
Grad Dip Ed (CCAE), Certificate IV (Christian Ministry and Theology)
1. For the last 24 years I have taught Christian Life Studies, Maths and Biology to secondary students and lately to students in Years 11 and 12. I have also coordinated the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards for several Canberra schools.
2. At the moment we attend an independent church called Vision Christian Fellowship. It is charismatic Christian.
My faith gives me meaning to my life and sustains me when things don't make sense. It's not just faith in a code of behaviour or list of things to do, but a relationship with the living God, who knows me, has forgiven my sin, guides my decision making, and has gifted me in unique ways. I have seen many answers to prayers and situations that are supernatural and inexplicable without the premise that there is a God who created us and loves us. My faith is a dynamic thing, constantly being challenged and growing as I encounter different ideas and people and learn more about God.
3. I have known that I wanted to be a scientist since I was about 10 years old and was fascinated by a diagram of the cross section of the structure of a plant. During my school days, I also did projects in astronomy and animal behaviour (Can dolphins talk?). I loved anything to do with science, wondering how things work.
After my BSc, I worked in research on cancer cells for about 6 years at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU, before becoming a teacher.
4. Everything I discover about anything scientific only serves to reinforce for me the fact that there is God who created the universe and yet loves us and is intimately involved in each of our lives - whether we let him or not!
There is much that I don't understand about both God and science but in no way does this make me doubt God because the key is relationship - in the same way that I may not understand my husband sometimes, but I still trust him to be true to himself. What the Bible says about God's nature is, to my mind, consistent with what I have discovered for myself.
1 Corinthians 13 says it all, that knowledge and talents etc are not the most important thing in life - it is love. I interpret verse 12 "now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face" to tell us that we don't know all there is to know. Personally I am comfortable holding apparent paradoxes because I trust God.
Against the wind
Mark Tronson recognises that many Australian scientists are Christians (something that many have been misled on), and these scientists have no conflict reconciling their profession with their Faith.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html