Flipping the narrative and encouraging Christians
- How do we get more of the world’s population engaging in science and technology fields?
- How do we increase diversity in the sciences and technology fields?
- How can we eliminate barriers to careers in the sciences and technology, such as playing down to negative stereotypes, for Christians?
Equipping scientists, both present and future.
Why “Science Stewardship”?
Science and high-tech fields (S&T) impact creation and human flourishing. People of faith represent most of the world’s population and Christian traditions are the largest of these. In the United States, a majority identify with some form of Christianity and this is especially true of Latinos, African Americans, and women. Increasing the number of these individuals as science and technology leaders will closely relate to whether people of Christian – and other – faiths can see themselves in these spaces. All people, regardless of faith position, should invest in remedying Christian under-representation out of a general concern to see the fullest breadth of human diversity represented in these spaces and out of a desire for the wellbeing of the world.
But being there is not enough. We need Christ-followers in these spaces with the hearts and minds to care for and cultivate the sciences as good tools for addressing big questions. We have chosen the label “Science Stewardship” because our aim is to develop programs that promote wise use of the sciences and technology fields to advance care for creation and human thriving. Our particular focus is to invite and assist Christ-followers to appropriately use the tools of the sciences and science-related technologies in the service of God’s Kingdom.
Currently Christ-followers are under-represented in science and technology fields. Indeed, in the United States, at least, Christians suffer from the stereotype of being poor at science or even anti-science (Rios, Cheng, Totten, & Shariff, 2015; Barnes, Truong, Grunspan, & Brownell, 2020). Some accomplished scientists at research universities are afraid to be open about their Christianity because of concerns that it will negatively impact their ability to get grants, publish, and get promotions. Consequently, even the relatively small number of Christians in the science and related fields may appear even smaller, reinforcing the idea that Christians don’t do science and high-tech fields, at least not well. Indeed, some experimental research has shown that Christians “perform down” to these stereotypes when reminded of them (Rios, et al., 2015), leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How do you know?
- Pew Research Center: The gap is much greater in basic science careers and at elite institutions than in science-oriented service industries (e.g. medicine, nursing, dental), school teaching, and engineering.
- Contrary to hopeful headlines in stories like this one trumpeting the estimated 2 million self-identified scientists who also identify as “evangelical” in the US in 2014, the data suggest that if scientists were “evangelical” at the same rate as the average American that year, there would be approximately 700,000 more evangelical scientists than there were, an increase of about 33%. A similar story could be told about those who identify as mainline Christians.
What is Science Stewardship?
Science Stewardship is a portfolio of programs and projects to support scientists, present and future. Within science stewardship we design projects to:
- Network present and future S&T leaders who are committed Christ followers.
- Normalize the presence of Christians and their distinctive contributions in the science and tech fields.
- Equip S&T Christians in biblical literacy, theology, ministry, and science-faith sticking points.
- Deploy S&T Christians as ministers to their peers, resources for their churches and other ministries, and shapers of their fields.
Featured project: Rising Stars: Promoting & Supporting Science Fairs
A life-size cardboard cutout of Galileo, a word search competition featuring famous (Christian) scientists, and lots of candy are a great way to start conversation to network and normalize with International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) students, their teachers, and their families.
Science fairs are a mechanism for encouraging student involvement in the sciences that carry recognition for participants in a way that is still relatively uncommon for students. Such events could be excellent vehicles for future scientists and technology leaders to become networked with other rising stars and successful Christians in those fields.
If science fairs are actively supported by Christians in these fields, as mentors and advisors to students, volunteers for events, and judges, these events could also serve to normalize the place of Christians in the sciences. Imagine, too, if faith-based high schools put energy toward becoming competitive in local, state, and national science fairs, winning in numerous categories year after year. Such achievement would go a long way toward shattering the anti-Christians-in-science stereotypes and the “conflict thesis,” perhaps much further than arguments, books, and articles.
500 years after the start of scientific revolution (1543) there are only positive stereotypes about people of faith advancing the sciences.
Our aim is that by 2043, there is a new stereotype about Christians, that they are “big” in science and technology (S&T). Instead of assuming that top scientists aren’t Christians, a good assumption will be that they are.
A good initiative needs to know when it is successful. What would it mean for the Science Stewardship initiative to be declared a success and, hence, no longer needed?
Measurable outcomes of our goal are:
- Self-declared Christians, who can affirm a general statement of orthodoxy (e.g., the Nicene Creed), are proportionately as common in the science and tech fields as they are in the general population from which they are drawn.
- These Christ-following science-minded people on average score one standard deviation higher on a test of biblical understanding than the general population of their home Christian tradition.
- These Christ-following science-minded people on average score one standard deviation higher on a test of theological understanding than the general population of their home Christian tradition.
- These Christ-following science-minded people on average score two standard deviations higher on a test of understanding faith-science issues than the general population of their home Christian tradition.
Contribute to Science Stewardship:
Our vision is big. Our hope is, whenever strategic and practical, to work with others to make this work happen.
Explore where you might fit by contacting us today.