Calamity has a way of putting priorities into focus. When this COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, it will be in large part because of God’s grace working through science-trained professionals: epidemiologists, chemists, biotech engineers, as well as doctors, nurses, and many others.
In hindsight, we’ll learn more about what went well and what didn’t in combatting this disease thanks to the work of various sorts of human behavioral scientists who will study the basic motivators of human action, how we respond to various sources of authority, and our intense needs for social intimacy and connection. The pandemic we find ourselves in puts on clear display the great potential of the sciences to address – and sometimes contribute to – life’s big challenges.
And yet, where are the people of faith? Setting aside medical practitioners, actively committed followers of Jesus are massively under-represented in the ranks of scientists, especially at the highest levels of high-tech industry and the academy. Indeed, if one extrapolates from Pew survey data, if those who identify as evangelical Christians went into the sciences at a rate proportional to the rest of society, we would have over a half-million more scientists in the United States alone. That is a lot more talents and energy being put to use in these important areas.
But the need is not just for numbers. As potentially powerful as the sciences and science-related technologies are, how we harness that power is a question that falls outside the purview of the sciences by themselves. I anticipate that the current pandemic is going to highlight the importance of a broad, inclusive, and well-informed discussion of what it means to have a flourishing life.
The judicious use of scarce resources often means making decisions that may pit length of life against quality of life. But what is a quality life? What is the right and good place of humans in this world? And how, then, do we as individuals and societies make decisions that will best maximize flourishing of humans and our world? To answer these sorts of questions, we must turn to the best of philosophy and theology, informed by contemporary sciences.
Those of us who see value in the Christian tradition — with its two-thousand-year history of scholarship inspired by biblical revelation — should be keenly interested in how Christian understandings of human flourishing can mutually supplement scientific description and know-how. Our world not only needs more Christians doing top-rate science, we need to bring our science-engaged theology to work with us.
Blueprint 1543 is here to help. Our mission is the integration of Christian theology with the sciences to address life’s big questions. We did not plan to launch in the midst of a pandemic, but calamity has a way of putting priorities into focus.