For Christians throughout the world, the person of Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation not only of the nature of God but also of how God relates to creation. Christian thought proposes that Jesus Christ gives meaning and purpose to the natural world: to time and space as we experience and explore it; to nature and all its enigmas; to matter itself. Jesus Christ is thus fundamental to the Church’s understanding of both human nature and the natural world.
Yet, the contemporary conversation about science and faith has quite often neglected the significance of Jesus Christ, focusing instead on a generic “God”. Such general theism is problematic from the perspective of Christian theology on many levels. At times, it has led to a more or less deistic theology: the impression that God has created the world, then largely left it to itself. Such a theology is far removed from orthodox Christian renderings of creation and providence. According to these, the theology of creation is not just about remote “beginnings”, or the distant acts of a divine originator. Rather, the incarnate Jesus Christ is himself – remarkably – the means and the end for which creation itself exists; if we would think aright about our world, study it and live within it wisely, we must reckon centrally with his significance.
What might such a bold claim possibly mean, and why is Jesus Christ so important for understanding God’s overall relationship to the created order? What does this importance mean for science?
These big questions were the subject of a major conference on “Christ and Creation”, which was recently held in St Andrews from the 29th-30th August. This conference was organised by Scientists in Congregations Scotland (www.sicscotland.org) and funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. This conference brought together a group of top-flight scientists,biblical scholars, theologians, and philosophers to speak to a group of Pastors, Scientists and Academics from all over Scotland. By so doing, it inspired a groundbreaking conversation that helped those attending to realise just how imperative it is for us to listen to other voices from outside our particular area of expertise.
The current moderator of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison, left the conference reporting: “Superb 'Scientists in Congregations' conference at St Andrews. Great sessions. Science and faith are friends in no need of reconciliation.”
For those interested in hearing more about this conference, videos of the talks will soon be made available via the website www.jamesgregory.org.uk