Why Science and Faith Need Each Other

Eight Shared Values That Move Us beyond Fear

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Science and faith are often seen as being in opposition. In this book, award-winning sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund questions this assumption based on research she has conducted over the past fifteen years. She highlights the ways these two spheres point to universal human values, showing readers they don't have to choose between science and Christianity.

Breathing fresh air into debates that have consisted of more opinions than data, Ecklund offers insights uncovered by her research and shares her own story of personal challenges and lessons. In the areas most rife with conflict--the origins of the universe, evolution, climate change, and genetic technology--readers will find fascinating points of convergence in eight virtues of human existence: curiosity, doubt, humility, creativity, healing, awe, shalom, and gratitude. The book includes discussion questions for group use and to help pastors, small group leaders, and congregants broach controversial topics and bridge the science-faith divide.


Part 1: Building Blocks
1. From Fear to Understanding
2. Overlapping Communities
3. Creative Evolution: Moving Past the Origins Debate
Part 2: Process
4. Curiosity
5. Doubt
6. Humility
7. Creativity
Part 3: Redemption
8. Healing
9. Awe
10. Shalom
11. Gratitude
Further Reading


"We've all heard the stereotypes--that all scientists are hardcore atheists or that all Christians reject science. But what do people actually think and feel about science and faith? Ecklund's world-class research in this area sheds light on the views of scientists and people of faith. Now this handy book brings together her scholarly insights and personal stories, showing how science and Christianity intersect in constructive, even beautiful ways. Perfect for pastors, campus ministers, scientists who are Christians, and small group discussion."

Deborah Haarsma, astronomer; president of BioLogos

"In her excellent and insightful book, Elaine Howard Ecklund brings a desperately needed breath of grace-filled air to the suffocating and suspicious atmosphere polluting many faith communities and many science communities. In an increasingly polarized culture, few things are more important than building epistemic bridges of humility, respect, and curiosity. As a leader of a faith community, I wish every one of my parishioners would read this book and take it to heart. I highly recommend it!"

Tom Nelson, senior pastor, Christ Community Church; president, Made to Flourish; author of Work Matters and The Economics of Neighborly Love

"The contemporary church is fighting against so much today, and in the process we are losing one of the most profound gifts the church uniquely offers the world: community. In chapter 4, an interview subject named Jill had been told that her own unique gifts of wonder and curiosity were not valued. In reality they are desperately needed; without these gifts the Christian world struggles to grasp the transformational beauty that is the mystery of the kingdom of God. Ecklund has written a thoughtful and spirited treatise. She just might be the Brené Brown of the science and faith world."

Juanita Rasmus, senior pastor of St. John's Church, Houston, Texas; author of Learning to Be

"Elaine Howard Ecklund, a world-class scholar in the sociology of science and religion, has given a gift to those who see science and Christian faith as mutually enhancing. Don't miss the book's subtitle: 'Eight Shared Values That Move Us beyond Fear.' With her winsome illustrations and insights, Ecklund shows us how to live out key virtues for effectively integrating faith and science. I highly recommend this thoughtful and beautiful book!"

Greg Cootsona, lecturer in comparative religion and humanities, Chico State University; co-director of Science for the Church; author of Mere Science and Christian Faith

"What a timely and excellent book! The science-faith conversation is not new, but Ecklund's perspective on it is fresh, important, and a must-read. Through the lens of sociological data and personal experience, Ecklund paints a thought-provoking and compelling picture of how both science and Christian faith, properly understood, help drive out fear of the unknown and cultivate shared virtues, including humility, intellectual curiosity, and even doubt. Ecklund's voice is refreshingly honest. This book goes well beyond the data of the science-faith conversation and offers an image of thoughtful and reflective Christian faith."

Praveen Sethupathy, associate professor of biomedical sciences and director of the Center for Vertebrate Genomics, Cornell University

"Ecklund's passion for the 'ministry of science' is palpable throughout. She helps us see how faith and science are not opposing forces. When understood and embraced, they can in fact reinforce and strengthen one's faith and scholarship. Ecklund's contagious hope for the people of God to see the breadth and depth of God's glory made plain to us through the marvels of science is inspiring. A timely book--one for which I am deeply grateful."

Korie Edwards, associate professor of sociology, Ohio State University

The Author

  1. Elaine Howard Ecklund
    Jeff Fitlow, Rice University

    Elaine Howard Ecklund

    Elaine Howard Ecklund (PhD, Cornell University) is professor of sociology at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where she holds the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences. Ecklund has written five books, including Science vs. Religion: What...

    Continue reading about Elaine Howard Ecklund


"This is the kind of book that can make for a good group study. Each chapter ends with questions for discussion. . . . As a Christian and a scientist--active in teaching and research for more than 30 years--I like where [Ecklund] is coming from. There are shared common virtues I see in the practice of science and of Christian faith. There are also common human failings that distort the picture and stand in the way of meaningful communication."

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