Baptist church wins funding for science-faith outreach
A social enterprise which aims to explore the relationship between science and faith in an interactive and family-friendly way is among the recipients in the latest round of Scientists in Congregations funding
Faith in Science C.I.C., based at New Hope Baptist Church in Coseley, has been awarded £16,700 for its The Faith Experiment project, a series of workshops exploring questions on the interface of science and faith.
The funding comes from the church engagement programme Scientists in Congregations, which is run by the research project Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science (ECLAS). ECLAS is led by St John’s College, Durham University, with the University of York and Mission and Public Affairs at the Church of England.
Faith in Science is one of 22 churches and organisations in England and Wales to receive grants totalling £400,000, to be used over the next 18 months on a creative, public-facing project.
In each workshop it will use games and demonstrations alongside a short talk to help summarise the arguments, explore ways in which agreement can be found and finally provide enough information for participants to make up their own mind and/or defend their belief in a positive and constructive way.
Its speakers are Matthew and Davinder Gardner, both healthcare scientists by background and members of New Hope Baptist Church. They bring their own experiences and perspectives of using science to help diagnose and treat disease to highlight how healthcare science in particular can be an area where science and faith exist in harmony.
They’ll be organising a special one-day Faith Experiment course to be followed by a series of smaller-scale events for churches and community groups.
Matthew explained the aims are twofold:
For Christians; to educate and prepare, so that they would feel confident and knowledgeable engaging in conversations about faith and ready if challenged to defend their faith when presented with an argument against it citing science.
For non-Christians; to open their minds to the truth that science and faith need not be in conflict and should indeed strengthen each other, and to encourage exploration of faith.
Matthew said, ‘As scientists and Christians we were concerned that many people seem to believe that you have to reject one or the other, so it seems to us an argument taken too far on both sides. This could be atheists claiming that science disproves God, or Christians outright rejecting the advances in science without thinking them through.
‘So we wanted to produce a programme to help show that science and faith don’t have to be in conflict, but should indeed strengthen each other.’
The Faith Experiment has previously been supported with funding from the Heart of England Baptist Association, which enabled pilot sessions to take place before the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. This means the equipment needed to run a course and the website are already in place. Matthew explained the ECLAS funding will provide what's needed to run a large one-day faith experiment course as a re-launch event. They will also be able to organise professional filming and editing to make a trailer and run some smaller scale follow up events in churches and community groups.