mMusings by President Jim – “Science Prophets” (April 20, 2020)

April 20, 2020 ~ James Brenneman

Second Monday of Easter! California Governor Gavin Newsom has extended our “shelter-in-place” mandate until, at least, May 15. We can be so grateful for leaders who are guided by their faith and science! Board As a biology/natural science/Bible undergraduate, I have always believed the so-called battles between religion and science baffling and wrong-headed.  God loves science! Whole swaths of Scripture are filled with Wisdom texts about creation, empirical data gathering to make wise decisions, proverbs and psalms borrowed from secular and other religious traditions, texts inviting us to trust and love God with our whole minds and hearts. In 1 Kings 4:29f, Solomon’s wisdom is explicitly lauded based upon his knowledge of basic biological taxonomy: his early animal classification system. This month we celebrate the 200-year-anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. She loved God, others and science and birthed evidencedbased epidemiology and applied statistics in her collection of data related to hygiene, health and recovery of her patients. She was a first responder, mother of modern nursing.  

 God loves science! I truly believe that religious and spiritual leaders practicing their calling, who lack the capacity or interest in thoughtful interaction with the sciences –not as apologists against science–border on spiritual malpractice. So much more so in a global pandemic! Perhaps, scientists, like Dr. Anthony Fauci and others, are the true prophets we need to listen to in our politicized fear-laden world.  

 If “there is no fear in love, and perfect love casts out fear(1John 4:18), then it behooves us as Christ-followers to find ways to balance our fears of COVID-19 with hope. We do so by loving each other and loving the best science available to us. I recommend keeping abreast of the latest facts on COVID-19 by regularly checking the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard, one of the best world-wide scientifically based tracking websites available. I am also proud that as one of the founding schools of the Graduate Theological Union, ABSW has available to our students, indeed to all of us, one of the best sources available on earth for gaining scientific and theological competency: The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS)Easter season and the science of virus-mitigation reminds us that death and the fear of death does not have the last word.