As globalizing cultures compete under acceleration, few professionals seem to offer the time or patience to freely explain their specialized knowledge to the uninitiated. But North Point Evangelical Presbyterian Church on Boston’s North Shore is encouraging Christians who are experts in many fields to do just that. Once a month after their Sunday morning worship they’ve provided a venue for the recording of five, one hour, local access TV programs so that local residents can listen in to the kinds of issues in a variety of fields that panel guests have encountered and wrestled with over many years. And the discussions while being very informative and accessible, upend the caricature/cartoon christianity that its critics rail against.
Since January North Point has recorded its Every Square Inch programs on the Arts, Business, Media, Politics and Science because it sees the need for both the church and the general community to appreciate the integrity of each field of endeavor, and the ethics that keep it serving the best interests of a democratic society.
There’s a reason why I’m assisting this project. In writing for a year as a columnist for Newmatilda.com in 2004, I was delighted that an avowedly left wing eZine was at last willing to allow that religion is an important matter for informed public discussion, and not just a subject for satire. But as I entered into that process I was disturbed that what I was doing for those unfamiliar with the mind- bending diversity of Christian religion – making an effort to explain it – I wanted someone to do that for me with science. I heard various science writers bemoaning the lack of belief in the general population for scientists’ more certain understandings, like evolutionary theory, especially in a huge part of the US population. But it occurred to me that it seemed only agenda driven atheists were making any attempt to explain science. And not with any humility.
As I write I’m taking a break from filming interviews for the Biologos Foundation. Mainstream scientists are here taking the effort to explain science, its purpose and its place in the gamut of human knowledge-seeking for a general audience. Ironic as it may seem to some, these people are evangelical Christian professors at a range of US colleges and universities.
As I listen to their concerns I’m left in no doubt that unless science is accorded genuine respect for its truth gathering and reporting due also to journalism, to the law, to medicine, to the arts, to the churches, to the building industry, to manufacturing, and business, and so on, then it will lack for students, and in the long term atrophy. These people not only get that, they’re helping students overcome the prejudices they bring from their variously gated communities.
In a technological age the polarization of the western world into combative groups with claims of exclusive or better knowledge must continue the erosion of our heritage of democracy and rule of law. I’m glad to report there are expert people with hope and the willingness to make their fields accessible so that we don’t have to go in that direction.