Thursday, April 23, 2015

Supporting Integration of Science & Biblical Faith

Recently, Abby and I were privileged to attend the annual Academic Honors Day Chapel at Cedarville University where we joined with the Department of Science and Mathematics in celebrating the announcement of a new academic scholarship.  The Science and Faith Integration Scholarship will be awarded annually to an outstanding student majoring in biology or environmental science.  According to the criteria for the Scholarship, each recipient should demonstrate exemplary academic achievement in the classroom and give evidence of a commitment to the development of his or her profession of faith and science through participation in opportunities to apply knowledge – i.e. scientific research or significant involvement in science-related travel study or short-term mission.

Both the name and selection criteria for The Science and Faith Integration Scholarship emphasize the aim of promoting biblical integration of science and faith.  The ultimate goal of biblical integration is to know God and display His wisdom and character.  Godly character is the fruit of internal consistency, or integrity—a wholehearted obedience to God’s Truth (Psalm 119: 9-11).   The submissive heart, at one time impervious to the wisdom and will of God because of pride, can begin to absorb and apply God’s Truth.  Hypocrisy of the divided heart and mind gives way to integrity. 

The integration of biblical Truth applied in every area of life is expressed in the virtue of love for God, love for neighbor, and love for the creation.  Biblical integration specifically applied to science and faith, means the Christian scholar highly prizes integrity in his or her pursuit of an accurate understanding of creation.  As a result, the Christian scholar gains insights into the workings of creation and exercises stewardship of creation based on “good science” and respect for the authority of God and His Word.

Perhaps our enthusiasm in support of The Science and Faith Integration Scholarship is moving you to consider investing in the scholarship fund for future students.  If so, please read on and consider two lasting benefits you would receive. 

First, you will share the personal satisfaction of supporting Christian higher education at Cedarville University and the heritage of academic excellence in science-faith learning that has characterized the Department of Science and Mathematics. As we watched  the first recipient receive her scholarship in Academic Honors Day Chapel and then became acquainted with her over lunch, our hearts were filled with joy in knowing we could have a small part in this university and departmental mission.

A second lasting benefit of investors in science-faith integration at Cedarville is the blessing from demonstrating our stewardship of God’s treasures by sharing money that in reality is “God’s money.”  Our March Oikonomia article, There’s No Such Thing as Private Property,” calls us to “possess property as though we didn’t possess it.”  We can affirm to ourselves that we are practicing stewardship instead of ownership by giving generously in ways that honor God and help our neighbor?  And, we can rejoice in God from Whom all blessings flow while we watch how He will use this scholarship for His glory in the life of each recipient.

The first Science and Faith Integration Scholar is Grace Revenaugh, a junior biology major.   Although Grace grew up in Cedarville, Ohio, her family now resides in Butte, MT.  At the luncheon for award recipients and sponsors, Grace enthusiastically shared her student experiences with us.  Highlights included her opportunity to conduct research on the role of microRNAs in autoimmune disease pathogenesis and her experience as an EMT with the Cedarville Township Volunteer Fire Department.   It became clear to Abby and I that Grace loves people, the campus environment, and the opportunity to pursue God’s calling for her.  In partial fulfillment of her application requirements for the Scholarship, Grace had submitted an “integration scholarship essay” in which she reflects on her experiences during her short-term mission trip to Republic of the Congo.   After our luncheon discussion with Grace and then reading her essay, it became clear that she is committed to pursuing God, His creation, His compassion for people in spiritual and physical need, and His call upon her to serve Christ.

Below you will find two excerpts from Grace’s writing.  In “Miriam,” Grace reflects on her Congo mission experience, particularly her relationship to a young abdominal TB patient.  In the second excerpt, “Environmental Context,” Grace shares her observations of environmental health and nutrition within which medical missions in the Congo are being conducted.  She hints at the need for a comprehensive effort to educate the Congolese in the importance of adequate sanitation and nutrition.  In both of these accounts, Grace demonstrates that she observes God’s world with eyes of compassion and with insight into the interdisciplinary challenges Christians face in bringing the Gospel to those with both spiritual and physical needs. 

Grace and Miriam
My seven weeks with Miriam and her family and many other patients at Pioneer Christian Hospital taught me about perseverance, the joy found in pain, and the good that a single person who longs to share the love of Christ can bring.  I was first motivated to join the medical field and subsequently go on this mission trip because I love science, especially anatomy and physiology, and because I am fascinated by the process of maintaining homeostasis; but, I have learned that so much of medicine is beyond science, dependent instead on caring for individuals and meeting their unique needs.  I believe that God has called me to use my life to illuminate the Gospel specifically through science and medicine by becoming a PA; but whatever His plans, I pray that God will use the lessons I learned in Congo to help me to bring glory to Him always.

“Environmental Context”
From what I have seen, environmental health is not something that even concerns the people of Impfondo with whom I primarily interacted.  On the other hand, the influence of western and eastern culture has brought with it a huge influx of imported products which have been integrated into the community.  These products, primarily portable, non-perishable items, are nutritionally degrading.  While we were visiting a patent at Pioneer Christian Hospital, Dr. Joseph M. Harvey said that products such as MSG, convenience goods, snacks, soft drinks, and processed goods in general are contributing to an exponential increase in diabetes, high blood pressure, and other western diseases now common in Impfondo.  Because the majority of people in Impfondo struggle to feed their families with any food that is available, no one really cares about the nutrition of food.  For example, if you told someone that they should not eat a certain root vegetable because of the high arsenic content they would most likely reply "it is this or nothing for our meal" and then eat it. The staff at Pioneer Christian Hospital are constantly working to educate people, but in my opinion the overall impact of this training has been rather small.

An Invitation to You:
In conclusion, Abby and I are excited about the interdisciplinary experiences Grace is having, and pray that God will continue to direct her growth in profession of faith and science.  Maybe you too have been encouraged by this account and Grace Revenaugh’s testimony of how God is using the new scholarship to foster the heritage of science-faith integration through the Department of Science and Mathematics at Cedarville University.  If so, then why not become a fellow investor? Perhaps you gratefully attribute your own profession of faith and of science to the teaching and mentoring of department and university faculty during your days at Cedarville. If so, we invite you to pray about how you might participate.  If God leads you to invest in this way, you may send your check to Cedarville University with “Science and Faith Integration Scholarship” on the memo line.  Or, you may contribute online at Just click on “Scholarships” and follow directions to “The Science and Faith Integration Scholarship.” Thank you for considering how you can steward a portion of God’s blessings to you by honoring your faculty mentors and encouraging leaders for tomorrow.