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Lambeth Calls: Science and Faith

by
19 August 2022

Read the full Call and how it was received at the Lambeth Conference

Richard Washbrooke/Lambeth Conference

Science and Faith: making clay candle pots during the spouses’ programme

Science and Faith: making clay candle pots during the spouses’ programme

Affirmation

AS BISHOPS we believe the perception of a rift between science and faith should be laid to rest in every part of our Anglican Communion over the coming critical decade, in order to fulfil our calling to be God’s Church for God’s world in this generation.

This coming together of faith and science can come about only through partnership between scientists and church leaders and between the different Churches of the Communion, recognising the complicated history that science has played in many countries. Therefore:

We the Bishops assembled for the Lambeth Conference commit ourselves to welcome and enter into dialogue with science recognising within it God-given resources for the life of faith and to offer the wisdom of faith to its work.

We call on our Churches to give this a high priority and to support and equip church leaders and scientists in partnership for such courageous and confident leadership, drawing on the collaboration that has already taken place through other networks in the Anglican Communion and in other Churches.

 

Calls

We call on all Anglicans as they participate in mission to recognise within science God-given resources for the life of faith and to offer the wisdom of faith to its work. Using the Five Marks of Mission as a framework,

  • To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom: by recognising within science God-given resources for the life of faith, and thereby removing it as a barrier to proclamation and belief; by drawing on science as inspiration for our worship to the praise and glory of God;
  • To teach, baptise, and nurture new believers: by laying rational foundations for Christian faith and affirming the dignity and value of new believers who have scientific backgrounds and vocations;
  • To respond to human need by loving service: by using the resources of science in issues ranging from physical and mental health-care to water and food security;
  • To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind, and pursue peace and reconciliation: by recognising how science may contribute to inequity and conflict, and speaking to those issues from a position of confident scientific knowledge; to offer the ethics and wisdom of faith to the deployment of new technologies such as AI, genetics, and nuclear technologies;
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth: by contributing the Christian theological motivation for caring about the material world and responding to the mandate to check greed and engage responsibly with God’s creation.

We warmly welcome the establishing of the Anglican Communion Science Commission to lead and focus our work in this area.

We call on our seminaries, theological colleges, and training programmes to embrace science as a God-given resource for the life of faith and to model how the wisdom of faith can be offered to the work of science; so that all ordained and lay ministers may be better equipped to do the same for those they serve in their public ministries. We ask that the new Anglican Communion Commission for Theological Education take a lead on this.

We call on every Church of the Communion to designate a lead Bishop for Science (if not already done so), and to explore the possibility of a commission of scientists and church leaders in their Provinces to take forward this agenda, to be connected with and supported by the Anglican Communion Science Project. We especially ask that young scientists are invited on to these commissions.

We call on every Anglican disciple to grow in their understanding of science as integral to the well-being of all disciples and to the mission of every church; so that they can play a more active role as citizens of the world and be God’s Church for God’s world.

 

Follow-up

The response to this Call will be led by the Anglican Communion Science Commission launched at Lambeth 2022, supported by a team of scientists and theologians from across the Communion. The work will be facilitated by the Anglican Communion Science Project, which will be based in two or three universities, such as Oxford, Cape Town, and St Paul’s University, Limuru, Kenya. The Commission will report at regular intervals on its goals and progress, beginning with the Anglican Consultative Council in Ghana in 2023, and to the Primates’ meeting. The Commission will also report to the next Lambeth Conference on progress made across this critical decade.

 

‘Fight distrust of science’

PARTICIPANTS at a seminar in preparation for the Call explored the broad reach of scientific advances and the potential value of working alongside the work of the Anglican Communion, writes Pat Ashworth.

They included astrophysics and the time-space continuum; the worldwide experience of the Covid-19 pandemic with its “syndemic” effects exposing and widening existing inequities; issues of poverty, famine, and sexual violence in many communities; the existential crisis in parts of the world endangered by climate change and rising sea levels.

Their basis is the Five Marks of Mission. Discussions were around removing barriers to proclamation and belief; laying rational foundations for the Christian faith and affirming the dignity of scientific vocations; using the resources of science in issues from healthcare to land, water and food security; “offering the ethics and wisdom of faith to the deployment of new technologies”.

Prominent among the most pressing and important issues they would like the Science Commission to take forward was “to fight the false accusation that faith is irrational — give young people the confidence to explore both faith, scripture, and science as non-competitive sources of knowledge about the world.”

“Science should be used to contribute to the development of the Church and to assist poor countries so that all countries should be at the same level of development,” said another. Others were concerned for pressing solutions to problems such providing clean water for isolated remote indigenous communities

Combating fundamentalist and Creationist teaching was a major concern, notably the “breeding of distrust of scientific explanation” in the 85 million Evangelical Christians being offered a literalist interpretation of the Bible.

Developing scientific literacy in the clergy and building capacity for progress was important, the participants — from all parts of the Communion — believed. Farmers “ought to be both scientists and disciples”. Scientists should be encouraged to go into schools to talk through materials such as those provided by God and the Big Bang. The value was emphasised of cathedral displays on science which had been shown to attract large numbers of people. Dialogue was urged between theologians, scientists, and environmentalists.

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