Science & Faith pt 2
The diversity of life on earth is amazing. Any trip to the zoo or aquarium, time spent watching Planet Earth, or better yet, any walk in the woods lets you experience a glimpse of the diversity here on Earth. Again and again, I find myself in awe of insects on a flower, the number of ferns in the forest. birds singing above my head, or critters under a log. If you've read my blog before, then you might have figured this out about me already (see posts on taxonomy, salamanders, and warblers). But, have you ever wondered why? Why are there so many different birds, bugs, and butterflies? For goodness sake, why do we need so many different ferns in New England alone that are so similar I can't tell them apart??
This question of life's origins and species diversity is one that men, women, and children have been trying to answer since we shared the Serengeti with secretary birds (maybe don't quote me on that). Artists, philosophers, scientists, and theologians have all pondered this question and offered their opinions, but, what kind of question is it? Whose answer should we go with? And, how do we know if we are right?
Oil and water, vinegar and baking soda, Buckeyes and Wolverines - some things just don't seem to get along. For many, science and religion are fit right in on this list. But, is that really the case? Is there actually a conflict between the findings of science and the tenets of religion that cannot be reconciled? Individuals on both sides of this debate, with some help from the media of course, have propped up the conflict idea, in fact, a 2015 Pew Research poll showed that nearly 40% of American adults believe there is an essential conflict between science and religion.
As a Christian who also happens to be a scientist, this is an extremely important topic to me. If there truly is an essential conflict between these two how could I continue as a Christian practicing science? As I've read, thought, discussed, and struggled through this idea over the years I have seen the need for better communication and dialogue. Scientists seem to misunderstand religious folk, and many who claim to be religious do not understand the scientists. To work toward bridging this gap in communication, I have been teaching a weekly course at my church through the month of August with the church's pastor, Bill Hodgeman. In the class we have explored science and religion, discussing what they are and how they work, we have talked about scientific and religions explanations for origins, and began to dig into some of the important questions. Even though the class was intended originally for a religious (specifically Christian) audience, my hope is that people on the Christian end will better understand scientists and vice versa.
Whats that? You missed the classes?? Well, dear reader, you are in luck! In a series of blog posts I will dig into the issues discussed in the class each week, starting now!
It has been a long time (too long) since I've written a post here. Much too long! My excuse is that I've been busy out "in the field" collecting data for my PhD research. No... not in the field like that...
Being "in the field" just means being out collecting data wherever that data may be. So, fieldwork can take a paleontologist to the Badlands of the Dakotas in search of bones, an archaeologist to the jungles of the Yucatán, or an bat biologist inside caves and caverns. My field work as taken me up and down the Pioneer Valley as I do ecological surveys of approx. 50 forested sites from the Connecticut boarder to the Vermont border. You can read more about what I am researching and why on in a write up on the research page (see, I haven't been completely silent on the website this summer). I hope to have more blog posts up here soon, but in the mean time here is a bunch of photos giving you a glimpse of what I've been doing in the woods all summer long.