So I'm doing Relay: should I take the Science Network elective?

Jemima Howell 19 Aug 19

Science versus Faith: The Final Showdown

As I sit writing this blog post about my experience doing the Science Elective Programme, my attention turns to my expanding bookshelf. Volumes about evolution, science in the lab, and medical practice fill the previously dusty space. And this is only the tip of the iceberg! The more I read, the more I discover just how little I knew about how to conduct science as a Christian when I was a student. I would attend lectures with the mindset of ignoring the questions that these lectures provoked. The lecturers would stand at the front and say that the only way we can know things is through the scientific method; that religion evolved as a coping mechanism to handle grief and struggle and that those who still practised were mostly harmless but wasting their time. I would diligently ignore those remarks and push them to the back of my mind. It was only through studying the elective that I realised that instead of pitting faith and science together in a battle, the two completely complement each other. Science, when done properly, should lead us to worship the creator God.

The Internal Turmoil of a Psychology Graduate

I came to Relay after completing a Psychology degree, so I wasn’t the most likely candidate to partake in the Science Elective. Designed for students who had studied a science and were deliberating pursuing a scientific career, the programme covers a vast array of topics, from addressing abortion to studying the creation account in Genesis in light of modern genetics. I had the vague notion of perhaps one day going back to University in a research capacity, and saw that the Elective involved feedback from the authors whose books were on the reading list, so I decided that I’d give it a go.  I’ve always been vehemently defensive of the scientific nature of Psychology, but after hearing about the Science Network Elective for the first time I gulped down my shame and asked whether or not a Psychology graduate ‘counted’.

I quickly realised that I had all of the qualifications necessary. A large part of the programme deals with issues that I had encountered as a Psychology graduate; that any science graduate would have encountered. How can we believe in anything that isn’t testable under the scientific method? How could there have been death before the fall? Are we just brains walking around in meat suits or is there more to us? How do we practically live for God in the context of the lab? I set out with the expectation that I would finally find some answers, and I was not let down.

The Equipping Elective

If you’re reading this considering taking the Science Network Elective, my advice to you would be this: Do it! Through the elective I have had the privilege of being able to delve into the Bible and see how it can inform every single aspect of studying science. Not only will it help you to understand the reasons behind things that we as Christians are told to believe and bring you closer to God, you will be in a unique position to bless Christians studying science at your universities. In the autumn semester, one of the key elements of the elective programme is meeting up with a few students to go through a series of pre-prepared bible studies looking at what it means to be a science student at university, and how we can study science to the glory of God. For us in Leicester, this has spiralled into starting a Science Hub, a weekly meeting of students interested in exploring big questions of science and faith. I am in a far better position to explore these questions with the students than I was in September! I can engage in conversation with confidence in the Bible as an infallible authority, but also that nothing in its pages will ever truly contradict scientific discovery. Studying the world around us leads us to a closer relationship with the God who made it. If you like science and want to be able to encourage the science students at your universities, the Science Network Elective will be a huge blessing to you and your ministry during and after your Relay year.

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