Science in Christian Perspective



The Joy of Science

J. W. Haas, Jr.
Gordon College
Wenham MA 01984

From: Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 50 (September 1998): 157.

The usual fare of PSCF falls along the lines of "science studies" rather the study of nature. Here we are interested in the methods of science, the resolution of conflicting ideas, the ways that scientists interact with each other, and the ways that science has influenced and, in turn, been influenced by the broader cultureˇespecially Christianity. The result of these studies has been to offset earlier notions of science as an entirely objective, rational, and impersonal process. The postmodern mood is seen by some as putting science in its proper place along with other elements of culture rather than at the top of the heap.

 In all this heady chatter about science, there is a tendency to distract today's scientists and the coming generation from that which attracted us to the field in the first placeˇthe sheer joy of the study of nature. Do you remember the smile that lit your face as you grew a crystal or examined the inhabitants of a tidal pool? The thrill of discoveryˇbiochemical pathways for repairing damaged DNA (thereby preventing mutations and cancer), rational design of inhibitory enzymes (a cornerstone of drug discovery), new ways to synthesize polymers in environmentally-safe carbon dioxide, a radio-isotope by-product that selectively reduces cancer-induced bone pain, a new one-electron route to photosynthesis under anaerobic conditionsˇprovides motivation for this quest.

The splendor of nature writ large and small must not be lost in our quest for ultimate meaning and purpose for our lives and the world. Both are essential!