This page looks at general resources on science and Christian faith. See also
Big Questions Online: explores Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality and fosters thoughtful discussion of those topics. It feature essays by leading thinkers and writers and invites the readers to join in an author-led discussion (sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation).
BioLogos Foundation: BioLogos is a community of evangelical Christians committed to exploring and celebrating the compatibility of evolutionary creation and biblical faith, guided by the truth that “all things hold together in Christ.” Videos, sermons, blog posts, and scholarly articles are grouped by topic from people including John Ortberg, Tim Keller, Tom (NT) Wright, and John Walton. BioLogos was founded by Francis Collins, author of The Language of God, Director of the (U.S.) National Institutes for Health.
Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences: More academically oriented, this site contains a valuable collection of resources for congregations. Robert Russell, Founder and Director of CTNS, contends we cannot “allow science and religion to be seen as adversaries, for they will be locked in a conflict of mutual conquest, such as ‘creation science’ which costs religion its credibility or ‘scientific materialism’ which costs science its innocence…it is time to begin a new and creative interaction between theology and science.”
Christians in Science: UK based network for professional scientists and those interested in the interaction between science and Christianity. Great archive of articles, talks and links on topics from creation to etics, from suffering to Higgs Boson. Many resources specifically geared to post-secondary students.
Faraday Institute for Science and Religion: Based in Cambridge University, is a great resource for:
- Multimedia (audio/video) from courses, lectures and seminars
- 3-4 page Papers on key subjects including an overview of science and religion, models for relating science and faith, evolution, the age of the earth, and much more.
- Short courses on a range of science and religion topics with world class lecturers
International Society for Science and Religion Library Project: One of the most extensive annotated bibliographies on religion and science available online. Titles are organized by topic and tradition with helpful introductory essays to each volume listed.
Science, Religion and Technology Project: Focusing on the ethical challenges associated with modern science and technology, this Church of Scotland resource wrestles with current issues from cloning and genetically modified food to global warming and end of life issues.
Test of Faith: Introductory Resources: A treasure trove of introductory resources. Along with the introductory video series Test of Faith, you will find a wide range of supplemental resources including video interviews with leading scientists and theologians on a variety of topics and congregational resources (supported by the Faraday Institute)
General Books and articles
Alexander Denis. Models for Relating Science and Religion. (4 Page download). Interactions between science and religion are varied and complex, both historically and today. This paper compares four of the major types of model that have been proposed to describe science-religion interactions, highlighting their respective strengths and weaknesses. It is concluded that the model of ‘complementarity’ is most fruitful in the task of relating scientific and religious knowledge.
Barbour, Ian. When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners? (San Francisco: Harper Collins. 2000). A nuclear physicist and theologian, Barbour proposes four ways theologians, scientists, and philosophers have tried to bring science and religion together: (1) conflict, represented by Biblical literalists and atheists, both of whom agree that a person cannot believe in both God and evolution, (2) independence, which asserts that “science and religion are strangers who can coexist as long as they keep a safe distance from each other,” (3) dialogue, which invites a conversation between the two fields, and (4) integration, which actively explores ways in which the two fields can inform each other.
Berry, R.J. (Editor). The Lion Handbook of Science and Christianity. (Oxford: Lion. 2012). Written for a general audience, this guide includes a thorough introduction to the nature of scientific and theological enquiry, followed by an examination of each major scientific discipline and its engagement with Christianity. Famous events—such as Galileo’s trial, Darwinian controversy, intelligent design, and creationism—as well as less well-known debates in the area are all covered. Recent scientific developments are explored including cloning, the human genome, genetically modified crops, nuclear power, artificial intelligence, and gravity as an explanation for the origins of the universe. How the world may end is also considered.
Collins, Francis. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. (New York: Simon and Shuster. 2006). While it has been assumed by some that science and faith are engaged in an irreconcilable war between two polar-opposite ways of thinking and living. Written for believers, agnostics, and atheists alike, The Language of God provides a testament to the power of faith in the midst of suffering without faltering from its logical stride.
Cootsona, Gregory. Creation and Last Things: At the Intersection of Theology and Science (Geneva Press. 2002). An introductory text designed for small groups in churches, Cootsona’s short book provides a survey of major themes in science and the theological implications they have for Christian life. The book covers developments in cosmology, the theory of biological evolution, and scientific perspectives on the end of the universe. Perfect for churches who want to work through an introductory text written by a pastor with church education in mind.
Dixon, Thomas. Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction. (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2008). Dixon explores not only the key philosophical questions that underlie the debate, but also highlights the social, political, and ethical contexts that have made ‘science and religion’ such a contentious topic. This little book examines historical episodes such as the Galileo affair, Charles Darwin’s religious and scientific journey, the Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’, and the Dover Area School Board case of 2005.
Falk, Darrel. Coming to Peace With Science: Bridging the Worlds between Science and Biology. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity. 2004). Falk, a biology professor, argues that a thoroughly Christian and biblically informed doctrine of creation is compatible with the widely held conclusions of modern science, especially biology.
Giberson, Karl and Francis Collins. The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions. (Downers Grove: IVP. 2007). Arguing science does not overthrow the Bible and that faith does not require rejecting science, the authors explore how God cares for and interacts with his creation while science offers a reliable way to understand the world he made. They address the most common questions people ask about Darwin, evolution, the age of the earth, the Bible, the existence of God and our finely tuned universe. They also consider how their views stack up against the new atheists as well as against creationists and adherents of intelligent design.
Harrison, Peter. The Territories of Science and Religion. (Chicago: Chicago University Press. 2015). Have science and religion always been in conflict? Harrison argues modern concepts of science and religion emerged only in the past three hundred years. By examining historical evidence, he explores other possible ways that scientific study and the religious life might relate to, influence, and mutually enrich each other. This is written at a more advanced level, but grapples with the issues in an academically rigorous way.
Harrison, Peter. The Cambridge Companion to Science and Religion. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2010). This edited volume provides a multi-faceted introduction to the relations between science and religion. It explores religion and the development of science, religious reactions to Darwinism, and the link between science and secularization. It also explores contemporary issues in cosmology, evolutionary biology, psychology, bioethics, connections between atheism and science, the nature of scientific and religious knowledge, and divine action and human freedom.
Haught, John. Christianity and Science: Toward a Theology of Nature. (New York: Orbis, 2007). A systematic theologian, Haught argues that nothing in Christian faith is in conflict with science’s widening and deepening knowledge. He contends that reflecting on the “three infinities” – the immense, the infinitesimal, and the complex – provides an unprecedented appreciation for the grandeur of God, creation, Christ, and redemption.
Houghton, John. The Search for God: Can Science Help? (Vancouver, BC: Regent College. 2007). Atmospheric scientist Sir John Houghton tackles questions such as how did the world begin; is there meaning and purpose in life; or is existence a matter of chance and chaos. A very readable, practical, thought provoking book.
Hutchings, David and Tom McLeish. Let There Be Science: Why God Loves Science, and Science Needs God. (Oxford: Lion. 2017). Hutchings (a science teacher) and McLeish (a professor of physics) argue that scientific inquiry is a deeply human activity, instilled in us by God. They also contend that Christianity is not only a reasonable worldview, but has supported scientific inquiry the centuries. A very readable, encouraging exploration of the positive links between Christianity and science (a more challenging read is Tom McLeish’s Faith and Wisdom in Science, below).
Lennox, John. Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, Lennox has written several helpful, readable books, including
- God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? the origin of life; the genetic code and its origin; the nature and scope of evolution; and the scope and limits of science. Lennox’s other books are also excellent:
- Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science. Christians can be faithful to Genesis by understanding it teaches us far more about God than it does about how He created the Earth or the age of the Earth), and
- Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists are Missing the Target and God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design is it Anyway?
When Science and Christianity Meet (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003). Lindberg and Numbers explore twelve of the watershed twelve of the most notorious, most interesting, and most instructive episodes involving the interaction between science and Christianity, from the Galileo affair, struggles over Darwinian evolution, debates about the origin of the human species, and the Scopes trial.
McGrath, Alister. Biophysicist and theologian Alister McGrath has written many helpful books including:
- The Big Question: Why We Can’t Stop Talking about Science, Faith and God (St Martins. 2015). An apologetic against some of the new atheists (such as Richard Dawkins), McGrath presents an accessible, engaging account of how science can relate to faith. He argues there is much more convergence between science and faith than is usually appreciated, models of scientific explanation can be adapted to religious belief, and belief in God provides a ‘big picture’ of reality, making sense of science’s successes.
- Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things (John Knox. 2010). McGrath argues that science is neither anathema to faith, nor does it supersede faith. Faith is not a blind leap into the dark but a joyful discovery of a bigger picture of wondrous things of which we are all a part. Both science and faith help with the overriding human desire to make sense of things.
- Glimpsing the Face of God: The Search for Meaning in the Universe (Oxford: Lion. 2002). In this very readable book (with pictures!), McGrath explores ways in which the visible universe helps us know God. A great book for people asking basic questions about God, science, and how those realities come together.
- The Reenchantment of Nature: The Denial of Religion and the Ecological Crisis. (New York: Doubleday. 2002). Arguing that Christianity has always respected and revered the bounty and beauty of the earth, McGrath argues that a narrowly scientific understanding of the world hinders our ability to truly appreciate and care for the world around us. In order to address the threats to our environment, it is essential to reawaken our sense of awe and look at the world as a glorious creation, an irreplaceable gift of God.
McLeish, Tom. Faith and Wisdom in Science. (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2014). Physicist Tom McLeish considers the Book of Job as a starting point to develop a “theology of science,” seeing the desire to know and understand the natural world as a deeply human – and profoundly Christian – activity. Science is one gateway through which we learn wisdom about God, our world, and good decision making. This is a more challenging read than, and explores in greater depth the themes in Hutchings and McLeish’s Let There Be Science, above.
Moltmann, Jurgen. Science & Wisdom. (Minneapolis: Fortress. 2003). As a theologan, Moltmann begins by analyzing the current interactions between Christianity and science, and looks for wisdom that can guide our scientific and religious future. From a more purely theological perspective than most, Moltmann looks at creation, God’s role in the universe, eschatology, the problems of time and eternity, and the idea of God and space. He also addresses specific questions in bioethics, historical conflicts between religion and science, and cosmology in a world religious context.
Numbers, Ronald (Editor), Galileo Goes to Jail and other Myths about Science and Religion. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2009). In this readable volume, 25 contributors dispel some of the common myths about the relationship between science and religion, from the myth that the rise of Christianity caused the demise of ancient science to the myth that modern science has secularized contemporary culture.
Polkinghorne, John. Quantum physicist and theologian, Polkinghorne has written many books on science and religion – typically more scientifically challenging than some other writers. Useful books include:
- Questions of Truth: 51 Responses to Questions about God, Science, and Belief (with Nicholas Beale). Polkinghorne and Beale take on questions from the existence of God, the nature of the universe, evolution, the problem of evil, what it means to be human, and what is essential for Christian faith.
- Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion. (New Haven: Yale University Press. 2005). Polkinghorne argues that reality is multi-layered, consisting not only of observable scientific processes but also personal and spiritual realities.
- The Faith of a Physicist: Reflections of a Bottom-Up Thinker. (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1994). A bottom-up examination of Christian beliefs about events ranging from creation to the resurrection, Polkinghorne uses the outline of the Nicene Creed, to repeatedly ask, “What is the evidence that makes you think this might be true?”
- One World: The Interaction of Science and Theology. (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1986). Scientists and theologians can enrich one another as they explore different aspects of “one world.”
Steane, Andrew. Faithful to Science: The Role of Science in Religion. (Oxfod: Oxford Universtiy Press. 2014). A physics professor, Steane aims to show what science is, and what it is not, and at the same time give some pointers to what belief in God is or can be. He argues that faith can be creative and intellectually courageous while science is not the all-embracing story that it is sometimes made out to be. Faith in God embraces and includes science, and scientific ways of thinking, in their proper role. Science is an activity right in the bloodstream of a reasonable faith.
Weaver, John. In the Beginning God: Modern Science and the Christian Doctrine of Creation. (Oxford: Regent’s Park College. 1994). Geologist and theologian John Weaver argues that science and faith complement one another and reinforce one another.
Wilson, Jonathan. God’s Good World: Reclaiming the Doctrine of Creation. (Grand Rapids: Baker. 2013). Baptist theologian Jonathan Wilson brings together our theologies of creation and redemption, showing the significance of God’s work of creation for understanding the good news of redemption in Jesus Christ. At a practical level, Wilson proposes how to live wisely, hopefully, peaceably, joyfully, and generously in that world. He also shows how a mature doctrine of creation can help the church think practically about contemporary issues, including creation care, sexuality, technology, food and water, and more.
Books on Christianity, Evolution, and AGe of the Earth
Alexander, Denis. Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose? (Grand Rapids: Monarch. 2014 (2nd edition)). Biochemist and Emeritus Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Cambridge, Alexander begins with the premise that “All Christians are, by definition, creationists.” He then carefully unpacks what we mean by creation, what we mean by evolution, considers various Scriptural passages, and concludes that an understanding of evolution as intelligent and designed by God can provide a framework for Christians to understand evolution in a biblically consistent way.
Barton, Stephen and Wilkinson, David (editors) Reading Genesis after Darwin (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009). Barton, a biblical scholar, and Wilkinson, an astrophysicist and theologian, highlight that both Jewish and Christian scholars read Genesis in a non-literal way long before Darwin; his Origin of the Species, did not challenge an historic Christian commitment to a young earth. They highlight that from the publication of Darwin’s work, many Christians were supportive of his theories. They also argue for the continuing relevance of Genesis today regarding questions of gender, cosmology, and the environment.
Berry, R.J. Creation and Evolution not Creation or Evolution. (4 page download). “This paper argues that it is a misconception to oppose the concepts of creation and evolution. ‘Creation’ is a theological term acknowledging the dependence of all that exists upon the authorship of the Creator. ‘Evolution’ refers to our current understanding as to how God has brought biological diversity into being. Both accounts are required to do justice to what we as scientists observe.”
Berry, R.J. (Editor). Christians and Evolution. (Oxford: Monarch. 2014). Eighteen Christian scholars share their personal struggles wrestling through the issues around evolution and Christianity.
Lennox, John. Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science. Christians can be faithful to Genesis by understanding it teaches us far more about God than it does about how He created the Earth or the age of the Earth.
Livingstone, David. Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter between Evangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought. (Vancouver: Regent College. 1989). Geographer Livingstone explores the history of evangelical theologians and scholars with evolutionary theory, emphasizing that evangelicals cautiously supported and accommodated evolution within their theology in the late 19th and well into the 20th centuries (many still do).
Lucas, Ernest. Interpreting Genesis in the 21st Century. (4 page download). “This paper suggests that the early chapters of Genesis should be read as a theological text expressed in symbolic stories addressed to ancient Hebrews, and not as a scientific text. When read in this way the narratives become highly relevant to us today. Far from being incompatible with the findings of modern science, Genesis provides us with a framework within which we can pursue our science and technology for the positive benefit of humankind and the rest of creation.”
Rau, Gerald. Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of Everything. (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity. 2013). In a balanced way, Rau outlines the main positions in the debate over creation and evolution. He explores both the debates among Christians and between Christians and non-theists. This book is particularly helpful by highlighting the philosophical assumptions involved in each model and the key challenges around how we interpret Scripture.
Walton, John. The Lost World of Genesis 1 (Grand Rapids: IVP Academic. 2009), Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns. 2011) and The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Grand Rapids: IVP Academic. 2015). Old Testament Scholar wrestles with Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3, exploring the nature of the literature, how it was understood when written, and ow we can interpret Scripture today.
White, Robert. The Age of the Earth. (4 page download). “The best estimate for the age of the material which forms the Earth is 4,566 million years, which is accurate to within a few million years. The universe is three times older, at 13,700 million years. Modern humans extend back only a few thousandths of one per cent of the age of the Earth, although living organisms have been present on Earth throughout most of its history. I discuss the scientific basis of geological dating, historical and recent views on the age of the Earth, and some theological implications that follow from the biblical and scientific evidence.”
Books and Articles on Natural Disasters
Fretheim, Terence. Creation Untamed: The Bible, God, and Natural Disasters. (Grand Rapids: Bakers. 2010). What is God’s role in natural disasters and the human suffering they cause? This is one of the most vexing questions in Christian life and theology. As an Old Testament scholar, Terence Fretheim offers fresh readings of familiar Old Testament passages – such as creation, the flood, and the suffering of Job – to give readers biblical resources for working through this topic. God is a compassionate, suffering, relational God, one we can turn to in prayer in times of disaster.
Hough, Adrian. The Flaw in the Universe: Natural Disaster and Human Sin. (Ropley, UK: O-Books. 2010). Educated in both science and theology, Hough wrestles with whybad things happen: why people make mistakes, have accidents, commit deliberate acts of violence, why disease affects every single species of plant and animal on the planet, and why natural disasters kill millions of people and decimate animal populations. Hough develops a theology of hope through his knowledge of both science and faith.
White, Robert. Who is to Blame? Disasters, Nature and Acts of God. (Oxford: Monarch. 2014). Cambridge geophysicist Bob White asks how can an omnipotent God of love allow disasters? He combines his scientific expertise with thorough research into their impact, and underpins it with a carefully reasoned theological response. Examining several types of natural disasters, he shows how human factors turn essential natural processes into disasters: how population growth, widespread inequality, foolish farming and building practices, and climate change all contribute, exacerbating heat waves, famines, and droughts.