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PRAYER INTO ACTION:

A CHRISTIAN STATEMENT ON SCIENCE FOR PANDEMIC TIMES

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Signatures (and counting)
our call to action

love your neighbor.
wear a mask.

Put prayer into action. Stand with public health experts and support scientists doing crucial biomedical research on COVID-19.

The Statement

A Christian Statement on Science for Pandemic Times

 

We, the undersigned, join together as Christians who uphold the authority of God’s Word and see science as a tool to understand God’s world. We call on all Christians to follow the advice of public health experts and support scientists doing crucial biomedical research on COVID-19.  

We are deeply concerned about the polarization and politicization of science in the public square when so many lives are at stake. The word “science” has become a weapon in the culture wars. Scientists are vilified and their findings ignored, while conspiracy theories go viral. Sadly, Christians seem just as susceptible to these trends. Thoughtful Christians may disagree on public policy in response to the coronavirus, but none of us should ignore clear scientific evidence.

It is appropriate for Christians to be skeptical of claims made by scientists who speak outside their area of expertise. We firmly reject claims that science has somehow shown God does not exist or faith is mere superstition. Such claims go beyond what science is capable of investigating. We lament the times when science and medicine have been misused to perpetrate atrocities like the racist Tuskegee experiments. But Christians should listen to scientists and doctors when they speak in their area of expertise, especially when millions of lives are at stake.

The Bible teaches that our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14). Thus, those doing biomedical research—whether they are Christians or not—are studying the very handiwork of God. Scientists are discovering truths about the virus, our bodies, treatments, and vaccines. As Christians, we know that all truth, including scientific truth, is ultimately from God. 

God can do miracles of healing, but God also uses doctors and scientists to bring healing. Before Jonas Salk discovered his vaccine, polio killed 350,000 people a year, most of them children. Christians in the biomedical sciences, like Dr. Francis Collins, see their work as continuing the healing ministry of Jesus (Matthew 15:30). Pursuing medical treatment is not a sign of weak faith in God, but a grateful acceptance of God’s gifts.

Scientists of all faiths at many universities and research institutes have been working hard to combat COVID-19, including at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Many scientists have dropped their own research programs to devote themselves full time to understanding exactly how this virus works, how it spreads, how the disease can be treated, and which vaccines would be both safe and effective. Experts have been communicating their knowledge in real time as the pandemic progresses, which has led to some confusion. In the early days, they advised the public against masks when supplies were needed for healthcare workers, but later they changed their message in response to more data. A change in expert advice is not a sign of weakness or unreliability, but of good scientific practice and honesty. On the biggest points, scientific predictions have been proven right: scientists said stay-home orders would reduce cases, and thankfully those measures worked. Scientists predicted that ending quarantine too soon would increase cases, and that has been the case. 

Scientists are not all-knowing and have biases like the rest of us. That’s why the process of scientific research has built-in steps for testing, vetting, and validation by the whole community. While any individual scientist may be biased, the community actively critiques each other’s work to reduce bias and errors until together they develop a consensus on what the data are saying. It’s not a perfect process and one can always find dissenters, but scientists working together are far more accurate than one person’s theory on YouTube. Scientists are trained to communicate where the consensus is uncertain and to not overstate conclusions. They may speak in sound bites in an interview, but if you listen a bit longer you will hear the caveats. So when Dr. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, tells us what scientists have learned about this infectious disease, he should be listened to.

We need more than science alone to make good decisions. Invoking “science” is not a one-word rationale for public policy; many factors need to be considered. The economic losses and social hardships of the pandemic are painful, and thoughtful Christians will disagree on how to balance those needs with health needs. Even closer to our hearts is the impact of quarantine on church fellowship. As churches reopen, Christians need to balance God’s call to meet together with God’s call to protect the vulnerable among us. We need more than science to make these decisions; we need biblical faith to be wise and discerning (James 3:13-18). As Christians throughout history have shown during other pandemics, our faith is what moves us to deep compassion for the sick, the young, the old, and the vulnerable, as we follow Jesus’ command to care for the least of these (Matthew 25:31-36). Our faith calls us to sacrifice ourselves for others and accept temporary limitations on our freedoms because we have a permanent and complete freedom in Christ (Hebrews 10:34). Our faith helps us be humble and patient when discussing contentious issues (Ephesians 4:2-3). It is our faith, not science, that overcomes fear and brings hope. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

Therefore, because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we will:

WEAR MASKS

Wear masks in indoor public spaces and follow other physical distancing rules given by public health officials (1 Peter 2:13-17), unless there are underlying health conditions. Yes, wearing a mask is uncomfortable and awkward, but the evidence is clear that masks reduce the chance we will transmit the disease to others. Mask rules are not experts taking away our freedom, but an opportunity to follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 6:31).

GET VACCINATED

Get vaccinated against COVID-19 when a safe and effective vaccine is available and as directed by a physician. A large fraction of the population needs to be vaccinated to develop the “herd immunity” which protects the immuno-compromised and others who cannot be vaccinated. Vaccination is a provision from God that will prevent disease not only for ourselves but for the most vulnerable among us (Matthew 25:31-36).

CORRECT MISINFORMATION

Correct misinformation and conspiracy theories when we encounter them in our social media and communities. Christians are called to love the truth; we should not be swayed by falsehoods (1 Corinthians 13:6). We will actively promote accurate scientific and public health information from trustworthy, consensus sources, and use this information when making decisions for our families, churches, schools, and workplaces.

WORK FOR JUSTICE

Work for justice for communities who have suffered the most deaths from COVID-19. Christians are called to be courageous in fighting for justice (Micah 6:8). We should be the least indifferent to the disadvantaged and vulnerable. Groups that have been hit hard include the elderly in nursing homes, the Navajo nation where many do not have access to clean water, and people of color who continue to experience discrimination in access to health care.

PRAY

We pray for God to heal the millions of sick, to comfort the thousands of grieving families, and to give wisdom to decision-makers. We pray for God to sustain biomedical and public health researchers as they work to develop treatments and a safe and effective vaccine. We pray for God to protect nurses, doctors, lab techs, and all healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 as they serve patients and our communities. And we pray for God to bless our cities and nation with justice and flourishing for all (Jeremiah 29:7).

Endorsements

World Renew stands with you in the space of embracing science

World Renew’s work with the Navajo and Zuni nations during this pandemic has highlighted again how the vulnerable are most affected. World Renew is working hard to help churches and communities see science as a God-given resource to combat sickness and hunger.

Carol Bremer-Bennett

Carol Bremer-Bennett

United States Director, World Renew

This wonderful statement is much needed for Christians right now

This wonderful statement is much needed for Christians right now: an expression of gratitude to God for the expert guidance scientists are giving us in this pandemic, and a commitment to doing what each of us needs to do to serve the common good.

Rich Mouw

Rich Mouw

Author, Adventures in Evangelical Civility

Our calling as followers of Christ is to love our neighbors

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which scientists and public health professionals are tirelessly working around the clock to tackle, I can think of no greater way to live out this calling than to lay down our rights for the cause of others’ health and well-being.

Praveen Sethupathy

Praveen Sethupathy

Geneticist, Cornell

My hope is encouraged by knowing I am not alone

Many Christians accept what scientists have learned about COVID-19. We understand that wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart will slow the spread and save the lives of others. And we are willing to follow these rules—to give up some personal freedom—out of love for our neighbors (Luke 6:31).

Deborah Haarsma

Deborah Haarsma

President, BioLogos
signatories

COMMITMENTS FROM LEADERS IN FAITH AND SCIENCE

The institutions listed are for identification of the signers, not necessarily institutional endorsement.

Deborah Haarsma

PRESIDENT

BIOLOGOS

PHILIP YANCEY

CHRISTIAN AUTHOR

FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY

n.t. wright

SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW

OXFORD UNIVERSITY

WALTER KIM

PRESIDENT

NATIONAL ASSOC. OF EVANGELICALS

claude alexander

senior pastor

the park church

Timothy Dalrymple

President and CEO

christianity today

Daniel Harrell

Editor in chief

christianity today

Jo Anne Lyon

General Superintendent Emerita

The Wesleyan Church

Carol Bremer-Bennett

United States Director

WORLD RENEW

Mark Labberton

President

Fuller Theological Seminary

rich mouw

AUTHOR

Adventures in Evangelical Civility

praveen sethupathy

Assoc. Prof of Biomedical Sciences

cornell university

Luis Cortés, Jr.

President

Esperanza

jeff hardin

chair, integrative biology

university of wisconsin

Lisa Sharon Harper

President & Founder

Freedom Road, LLC

Peter Wehner

Senior Fellow

Ethics & Public Policy Center

David Anderson

Founding Senior Pastor

Bridgeway Community Church

Ronald Hofman

Clinical Prof of Pediatrics

Mich State College of Human Medicine

Mike McHargue

HOST

SCIENCE MIKE PODCAST

kara powell

executive director

fuller youth institute

Katharine Hayhoe

Endowed Prof of Public Policy & Public Law

Texas Tech University

Edward Larson

Pulitzer Prize for History

Pepperdine University

William D. Phillips

Nobel Prize in Physics

University of Maryland

Julia Wattacheril

Assoc. Prof. of Medicine

Columbia Univ Irving Medical Center

Jamie Aten

founder and ceo, Humanitarian Disaster Institute

wheaton college

Joseph L. Graves Jr.

Professor of Biological Sciences

North Carolina A&T State University

andrew ginsberg

Executive Vice President and Chief Development OfficeR

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

jennifer wiseman

fellow

american scientific affiliation

dwight baker

President

baker publishing

Justo Gonzalez

historian & theologian

Asociación para la Educación Teológica Hispana

jeff schloss

walker chair of biology

westmont college

nancy low

founder

low & associates

Harvey Clemons Jr.

pastor

Pleasant Hill Ministries

ken Keathley

Dir., L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

mark vogelzang

President and CEO

maine public broadcasting

Charlotte Witvliet

Prof and Chair of Psychology

hope college

Christin L. Hanigan

Senior Specialist

Assoc. of Public Health Laboratories

Rick Lindroth

Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor

Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison

J. Richard Middleton

Prof of Biblical Worldview & Exegesis

Northeastern Seminary

Stephen Freeland

Dir, Interdisciplinary Studies

Univ Maryland Baltimore County

Kent Annan

Dir, Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership

Wheaton College

Patricia Fitzgerald Bocarsly

Provost and Professor

Rutgers Biomedical & Health Sciences

Dorothy Boorse

Professor of Biology

Gordon College

Greg Thompson

Physician

University of Oklahoma

Apryl Brown

Science Faculty / Itinerant Deacon

Wayne Cnty Comm College / A.M.E. Church

Scot McKnight

Professor of New Testament

Northern Seminary

MICHAEL MIDDLETON

M.D.

MIDDLETON PEDIATRICS

jim stump

host

language of god podcast

darrell l. bock

Exec Dir for Cultural Engagement

Dallas Theological Seminary

Ian Hutchinson

Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering

MIT

Matthew Eppinette

Executive Director

Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity

Anding Shen

Prof of Biology

Calvin University

Heather John

m.d.

Terra Firma Psychiatry

ard louis

prof. of Theoretical Physics

university of oxford

larry langdon

partner

mayer brown llp

Kevin J. Vanhoozer

Research Professor of Systematic Theology

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Darrel R. Falk

Professor Emeritus of Biology

Point Loma Nazarene University

sy garte

editor in chief

god and nature

April Maskiewicz Cordero

Professor of Biology

Point Loma Nazarene University

john walton

prof. of old testament

wheaton college

Samuel Rodriguez

President

National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Gregory Gray

Prof of Medicine, Global Health, & Environ. Health

Duke Univ School of Medicine

James Martin

Former Governor

North Carolina

Sharon Terry

CEO

Genetic Alliance

Kimberly Denu

VP for Educational Programs

Council for Christian Colleges & Universities

Robert Russell

Director

Center for Theology & the Natural Sciences

Mark Young

President

Denver Theological Seminary

Stephanie Summers

CEO

Center for Public Justice

Oscar Chicas

National Director

World Vision Nicaragua

Craig Story

Prof of Biology

Gordon College

Geoff Tunnicliffe

Past Secretary-General

World Evangelical Alliance

C Diane Martin

Prof Emeritus of Computer Science

George Washington Univ

Angela Sims

President

Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School

Michael LeRoy

President

Calvin University

Keith Ward

Regius Prof of Divinity Emeritus

Oxford University

Edward B. Davis

Distinguished Prof of History of Science

Messiah University

Michael E. Chupp

Chief Executive Officer

Christian Medical & Dental Associations

Cymbeline Culiat

President & Chief Science Officer

NellOne Therapeutics

Francis Su

Prof of Mathematics

Harvey Mudd College

Phil Vischer

Creator

Veggie Tales

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We call on all Christians to follow the advice of public health experts and support scientists doing crucial biomedical research on COVID-19.

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Further reading

ABOUT THIS MOMENT

Resources to help you navigate a Christian response to the pandemic (last updated 8/18/2020). See current color-coded risk levels and trends in your state or county on an interactive map. Explore recent updates and practical resources from the experts at the CDC. And see the latest on COVID-19 vaccine testing with the Vaccine Tracker.

A Christian Response to Coronavirus

Virtual event featuring BioLogos virtual event featuring Dr. Francis Collins and leading Bible scholar N.T. Wright.

Beyond ‘Plandemic’: A Christian Response to Conspiracies

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Mother Knows Best: Let’s Talk Common Vaccine Concerns

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Coronavirus & the Book of Job: A Podcast Recording with John Walton

Bible scholar John Walton discusses the book of Job and the insight it can bring to us in the times of this pandemic.

BioLogos 2020. All Rights Reserved. For media inquiries, contact media@biologos.org.