Science and Christian Faith

 

 

Doing Science and Loving the Needy

Catherine H. Crouch, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Deborah B. Haarsma*, Haverford College, Haverford, PA
and Loren Haarsma* ,University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

From: PSCF 51 (June 1999): 76-77.

"The Lord sets the prisoners free;

the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

the Lord loves the righteous.

The Lord watches over the strangers;

he upholds the orphan and the widow,

but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin"

 

 (Ps. 146:8˝9).

Scripture is full of verses which remind us that the Lord is particularly concerned about the poor and the helpless. As scientists and science teachers, how can we share that concern in the course of our professional work? We spend most of our working hours among the (relatively) privileged and wealthy. Few of us have jobs that directly redress injustices or give support and dignity to the poor.

One way to is to look around our professional world and ask, "Who in this world is poor? Who here suffers from injustice?" It may seem difficult to think of our scientific colleagues this way. It may also seem difficult to think of the nonscientists at our workplaces, such as secretarial and custodial staff, as being part of our professional world. But exploring these questions can also give us new love and compassion for these people.

In asking these questions, we have found a surprising number of answers. Not all of these ideas are appropriate for every person; rather, we hope they will stimulate you to find the specific ways you are called to be part of bringing justice into your professional world. We are eager to hear stories of how you have seen God work within your profession to set the prisoners free and to lift up those who are bowed down.

In today's society, technical knowledge and a college education are increasingly a significant source of economic opportunity and social power.

At universities, graduate students and other student employees lack power and need an advocate.

At major research universities, some faculty give little time or effort to teaching, or focus their attention primarily on the talented students.

In the research world of academia and industry, power and opportunity are awarded to the best-known and most accomplished groups. The "rich tend to get richer and the poor, poorer" in literal funding dollars, as well as figuratively.

Support staff at our institutions often lack autonomy and may also be poorly compensated for their work.

The powerful in society often use science and technology at the expense of the powerless.

And, of course, all of us have lives outside our profession.

ę1999