The Rev. Dr. Christopher J. Benek
"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
As featured in The Christian Post
It is often articulated in society that Christianity and science/technology are at odds. While most people of faith do not hold this belief, it is imperative that the church universal continue to dispute this negative stereotype. The most effective way that Christians can do so is by actively affirming their support for people called to work in the fields of science and technology.
The irony of the claim that Christianity is opposed to science and technology is that many of the people who make up congregations throughout the world are people who work in these fields daily. Yet, even though this is the case, many times the church still admittedly fails to recognize the gifts of such individuals who are instrumental to the wellbeing of both the church and our global community.
I personally became starkly aware of this fact years ago when an elderly man approached me one morning after a worship service with tears in his eyes. He proceeded to say: “I’ve been going to church consistently for over thirty years and this is the first time that anyone has ever acknowledged my vocation as a chemist as a way to serve Christ. I can’t thank you enough!”
I was shocked to hear these words from this devout man. Immediately my heart sank. For thirty years he had been faithfully attending worship services feeling like there was disconnect between his faith and the work that the did every day of the workweek? The church universal had failed that man for thirty years! Even worse – I couldn’t help but to think of all of the young people who had been raised in the church that had potentially bought into the false notion that their faith and science/tech interests were somehow necessarily incompatible.
Fortunately for Christians, while we may have collectively failed to do so in recent years, our opportunity to correct this misnomer hasn’t past. We are just now entering into an age of emerging technology where technological growth is occurring faster than ever before in the history of the world. This occurrence is leading people of faith to ask questions never before raised regarding the intersection of theology and faith/science. The church thus has the opportunity presently to encourage and nurture the scientist and technologist in our midst and to support efforts in these fields that promote Christ’s redemptive purposes in the world.
As such we need to begin to ask ourselves: Do we want diseases to be cured and our general health to be improved? Do we want famines to be eradicated? Do we want the blind to see and the deaf to hear? Do we want the environment and wildlife to be protected? Do we want to improve the ways that humanity interconnects relationally? Do we want all people to have a better quality of life? Because if we do we should acknowledge publically that scientists and technologists are the ones who God has called to help us accomplish these goals. God has bestowed upon them unique vocational gifts that compliment the other gifts of the church in ways that are meant to help humanity more greatly flourish.
But in order for this to happen pastors and congregations need to immediately begin to affirm the importance of these gifts and these individuals in the church. We need to begin to host educational seminars in our churches on how faith, science and emerging technologies interconnect with one another. We need to begin to, with integrity, talk about science and technology within the context of worship. Most importantly, we must begin to empower the next generation of scientists and tech specialists with the support and encouragement that they need to continue to bring humanity into a more advanced and humane technological future.
For all we know, the person who will discover the next big scientific or technological breakthrough will be sitting in a pew this Sunday at church. Doesn’t the church have a responsibility in Christ to empower, affirm and bring about the abundance of that person’s gifts in the world? That is something for us all to think about the next time we join together in praying Christ’s prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done – on earth as it is in heaven.”