Test of FAITH
Resources for Churches from The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion

Skip Navigation

Nigel Bovey, God, The Big Bang and Bunsen-Burning Issues (Authentic, 2008)

£4.99, 205 pagesCover image


God, The Big Bang and Bunsen-Burning Issues is a collection of 15 interviews with Christians who are, or have been, scientists. The interviews were originally published in the War Cry, the newspaper of the Salvation Army, and are written in plain English while retaining the scientific and theological detail necessary to understand the topic. The aim of the book is to show ‘how Bible-believing Christianity is compatible with contemporary scientific thinking’.

The science covered includes cosmology, biochemistry, particle physics, botany, molecular biology, immunology, materials science, genetics, geophysics and meteorology - with maths slipping in there too. The range of Christian backgrounds represented is equally eclectic, but with all confirming the truth of Scripture and the historic creeds of the Christian faith.

Each interviewee tells how he came to Christian faith and how faith and science fit together in his eyes. Many of these scientists came to faith while at university, either through friends or ‘freshers sermons’ and university missions. It’s fascinating to see the ways in which different scientists discover Christianity, and what the tipping point was for each of them. Chris Southgate tells how he came to faith after he prayed for his future wife and she recovered from a serious illness; Russell Stannard found God after reading the lesson at his school founder’s day service; and Francis Collins – like many scientists – found C.S. Lewis’s ‘Mere Christianity’ immensely helpful in his journey to faith.

All of the interviewees have a very well worked-out theology of science – there are differences between them, but they all affirm that science is an extremely worthwhile occupation for a Christian. Ghillean Prance’s description of his travels around the Amazon stands out because he began his work on botany at a time when the value of preserving the rainforest was only just beginning to be recognized – and Prof. Prance played a large part in raising the issue of deforestation. Prance also encouraged the church in Brazil whenever he could, and has played a part in helping Christians to become more responsible in their attitudes to the environment. Michael Poole – a teacher of science teachers – gives a very clear explanation of creation, the big bang, and a number of philosophical issues. Alister McGrath defends Christianity from a scientific standpoint, demonstrating the passion for ‘apologetics’ (a reasoned defence of Christianity) that drove him to help found the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. Many of the other chapters have a similar apologetic approach, showing how science and genuine Christian faith are compatible.

One shortcoming of this book is that all the contributors are men, but this is a perennial issue in the field of science and faith – will all women who would like to get involved in the field please step up!

I would definitely recommend this book for those who want to be inspired by a wide range of people who have made their mark both in science and in the science-faith discourse. This collection shows the rich diversity to be found in science: of personalities, passions and ways of life. It is a book to give to a science student, an RE teacher in need of stories about scientists, or someone who needs convincing that science and faith can go together.

Ruth Bancewicz, Test of FAITH Project Leader/Editor

Difficulty: Easy