There is intense interest in science and faith among believers, unbelievers, and ex-believers—if we make the subject interesting. I used to wonder whether the members of my church really wanted to hear about how Big Bang cosmology relates to Genesis 1, or what the "image of God" could mean in light of contemporary brain science. Would they be as fascinated as I was?
My doubts were laid to rest when our church sponsored a weekend conference on science and theology. Among the enthusiastic attendees was a member of our church and graduate student at the University of California at Davis—which is about 100 miles from our church in Chico—who drove to the conference in order to hear how faith and science relate. She came bounding up at the end of one talk, saying: "This is great stuff, and these are issues I'm wrestling with. Why don't you bring more of that material into the pulpit?" As I walked off, I wondered to myself, "Why don't I? Why have I resisted bringing these insights into my ministry as a pastor?"
I realized that the two responses I once would have given no longer applied. I wasn't always sure I had the right answers, and I was afraid most people wouldn't be interested in hearing them. Now I know that the interest is there—inside and outside the church. And we don't have to have perfectly produced solutions—we just have to start the conversation. A whole lot of "nones" are waiting.
Greg Cootsona is wrapping up Scientists in Congregations, a $2 million grant project funded by the John Templeton Foundation. He has taught on science and faith since 1994, serves as associate pastor of adult discipleship in Chico, California, and regularly blogs on topics of faith and culture.