She loves science, inspiring enthusiasm for science in her students. For them as for her, science is not just about memorizing facts and formulas; it is about creativity, problem-solving, and wonder. In taking her courses they find themselves amazed by the complex beauty of the natural world, seeing science itself as a journey in amazement. They leave her courses wanting more.
She is faithful to her subject matter, not letting pressures from parents and the school board affect her teaching the technical aspects of her lectures. She teaches evolution.
She can, when appropriate, facilitate discussions of the philosophical and theological implications of the subjects. She shares her process point of view in a non-authoritarian way, welcoming other points of view. The class becomes a context for dialogue.
She offers a thoughtful presentation of the methods of science, valuing science as a way of knowing but not assuming science is the only way of knowing. She thinks poetry is a way of knowing, too.
She treats her students as whole persons.
She sees science as in service to the common good of the world.
She is a process theologian, not in a formal sense recognized by the theological guild, but in the informal sense of being shaped and influenced by open and relational theology, including its philosophy of education, which says that something like "romance" or wonder is essential to education. She believes that the world is an interconnected and evolving whole, with creativity of its own, and that God is a non-coercive but continuous lure within the universe toward novelty and order. For her as for others, God is all-loving but not all-powerful and the future is open. She believes the divine lure is within each person as an inwardly felt beckoning toward wisdom and compassion, curiosity and wonder. She sees science as a response to this lure. "The practice of science," she says, "is a spiritual practice in its own right."
In her approach she partly influenced by Ian Barbour's essay on "The Science Teacher and the Student," published in 1960. It seems a bit outdated: she wishes he had not assumed science teacher are all men and that he had been more multi-religious in his horizons, not focusing primarily on Christians and Christian theology. Still, she finds his reflections on philosophy, theology, ethics, and pedagogy helpful as springboards for her reflections on what it means to be a science teacher. She thinks he would appreciate science in the same way she does, as a way of being open to the world.
The Science Teacher and the Student
Ian G. Barbour was Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Carleton College, Northefiled, Minnesota. He is the author of Myths, Models and Paradigms (a National Book Award), Issues in Science and Religion, and Science and Secularity, all published by HarperSanFrancisco. The essay below is from his book Christianity and the Scientist. The material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
The teacher’s primaryChristian dutyis to teachwith competence, clarity, and imagination, awakening interest and encouraging understanding in his students. In high school, college, or university the science teacher is helping to prepare the scientists of the next generation. The inspiration and insights which he provides will be a major contribution to the future usefulness of his students.
While religious perspectives have nothing to do with the technical content of a lecture, they are relevant to a number of aspects of the academic situation.1 Where appropriate to the objectives of the course and closely connected with the subject matter, some of the questions which we have raised about the effects of an invention on society or the ethical dilemmas faced by the scientist can legitimately be mentioned in the classroom. Religious commitment may also influence the teacher’s attitudes concerning the methods of science, the philosophical and theological implications of certain topics, and the character of his relationships to students and faculty.
A. Teaching the Methods of Science
The modern world has been transformed by technology. Just as great has been the impact of science as a way of thinking. Though instruction concerning principles is the science teacher’s primary function, he is also cast as interpreter of the scientific enterprise. He conveys indirectly, whether he intends to or not, his understanding of the process of scientific investigation. Some consideration of the methods, history, and philosophy of any field should be included, not as an addition to teaching the subject, but as integral to it. To the student who takes only one course in the natural sciences, an understanding of the ways in which science proceeds, and its significance for our culture, may be as valuable in later life as technical information acquired. The science major benefits also from conscious evaluation of methodology, even though he is continually exposed to the work of scientists. His ability to place his field of specialization within the context of a larger philosophy of life depends on a clear understanding of the nature of scientific endeavor and its relation to other human activities. These are questions about which the Christian should be particularly concerned.
The extent to which problems of method are mentioned will necessarily depend upon the objectives of the course. In a senior class in atomic theory they may enter seldom, though even in this field relativity and quantum mechanics did involve precisely such examination of basic assumptions. Too often only the final results of a discovery are taught, and no appreciation is gained of the process by which they were reached, or of the failures and blind alleys and first approximations involved in the investigation. At the other extreme, in a general-education biology course one might give rather frequent attention to what Conant calls "the strategy and tactics of science."2 Some texts have gone so far in this direction that they have become books "about science," or present a smattering of so many fields that they end as superficial surveys. The "block-and-bridge" approach selects a few topics for intensive and rigorous study (preferably in one or at most two sciences) and sketches rap idly the connecting bridges between these blocks. Once the goal of encyclopedic coverage has been abandoned and there is no pressure to try to "get through all the material," some attention can be given to the strategy of science. A number of physics texts, for example, give explicit attention to the methods of science and their limitations. A recent general physics book 3includes chapters entitled "Understanding Science," "The Implications of Modern Physics," and "Science and Society" (the last, incidentally, devoting five pages to a section on "Science and Religion"). Another text discusses the limitations of science, concluding:
The artist, the poet, the theologian, the philosopher, and the scientist -- all have attempted parts of this description, and the work of each makes some contribution to the whole.... We shall see that the scientist limits himself professionally to certain aspects of the problem, and therefore cannot pretend that his description is complete... The natural scientist confines himself in his description of the world to the objective data which he can obtain by the observation of nature.4
When such issues are treated only in the opening and closing sections of a course, students tend to look on them as addenda "tacked on" to the main body of subject matter. A more effective presentation considers methodological questions integrally with the more technical material, as is done in G. Holton’s excellent volume.5 Again, occasional use of the "case method"6 allows the process of discovery to be seen in its total historical context, including social and intellectual forces. H. K. Schilling 7suggests that the student should gain some picture of science as: a body of knowledge; a way of knowing; an area of experience; a foundation of technology; an intellectual and moral influence; and a social enterprise. For many teachers who were themselves narrowly trained, such approaches require considerable study on their own part in the history and philosophy of science, but the improvement in teaching is more than adequate reward. Turning to specific methodological problems which might be raised in class, it should be noted that the activities of scientists have been far from uniform. There is no "scientific method" with five easy steps, as some interpreters imply; there are no do-it-yourself instructions for making discoveries! But there are some common characteristics of the process of Investigation, such as:
1. The interaction of hypothesis and experiment. Observations lead to possible hypotheses and conceptual schemes; from these hypotheses, relationships which can be tested experimentally are deduced; the results may in turn suggest modifications or refinements in the theory. The teacher can bring out the role of inductive and deductive reasoning, the construction of conceptual schemes and models, idealization and simplifying assumptions, quantitative measurement and the controlled experiment. Of particular interest are the various criteria for evaluating alternative theories,8 e.g., simplicity, consistency, and experimentally testable implications. Almost any area of discovery illustrates this process of interaction between hypothesis and experiment; among examples useful in elementary courses are the kinetic-molecular theory of gases, the geocentric-heliocentric debate in astronomy, the work of Galileo and Newton on motion, and Mendel’s work on heredity.
2. The creative character of scientific concepts. Science is not just a matter of precise observation and the accumulation of facts. The concepts of valence and entropy are not given to us ready-made by nature, but are abstract interpretive constructions created in order to co-ordinate data, enabling us to trace coherent patterns. Schilling points out that in a sense the atom was "invented" as well as "discovered." A teacher can explain that the atom is not literally a group of electrons whirling like ping-pong balls around a nucleus, and that representation in wave equations is a symbolic mental construct used to organize and predict patterns of experimental relationship. Imagination and ingenuity have always been required, and advances have usually been the result of new ways of looking at old phenomena. Galileo’s achievements were due not only to precision of observation but to the formulation of completely new concepts, such as that of acceleration. Men watched apples fail for centuries before Newton had the flash of insight from which he developed the law of universal gravitation.
3. The social nature of science. Science is a communal enterprise; there is no one-man science, for each person is dependent on predecessors and contemporaries. Most developments are a composite product, the cumulative result of many small discoveries or improvements. Scientists constitute a distinctive community with its own loyalties, standards, and institutions. The role of the Royal Society in early science, or of specialized journals today, can be pointed out. Science is also a part of the social order, influenced by practical needs, economic forces, and intellectual assumptions. The growth of astronomy was influenced by astrology and navigation; work on the properties of gases was stimulated by the need for better pumps; and more recently electronics and atomic physics have been developed in large measure for military purposes. Many fundamental discoveries required instruments or equipment made possible only by technological or industrial activities.
The science teacher needs to have some insight into the limitations as well as the strengths of his field. These are limitations imposed by the nature of the scientific enterprise itself, not by some outside authority. Science is not infallible. Contrary to the popular impression, certainty is never achieved, and no formulation is final and irrevocable. A theory is never proven true; at best it is more useful, fruitful, comprehensive, and simple than alternative theories currently available. The chemist Arrhenius received the Nobel prize for his electrolytic theory of dissociation; the same prize was given later to Debye for showing the inadequacy of Arrhenius’ scheme. Which of our present ideas will be modified by our children? Modem physics texts have been presenting the concept of parity or symmetry as one of the fundamental principles of nuclear structure. Those present at the 1956 physics meetings in New York will long remember the session in which two Chinese physicists reported results showing the untenability of this long-accepted principle.
Again, the methods of any science are necessarily selective. Every discipline develops its own symbolic language in terms of which it replaces the total complex situation by a model that represents those variables in which it is interested. In physics problems, an elephant on a river bank becomes a mass with a coefficient of friction, and a Beethoven symphony becomes a set of molecular vibrations. The scientist limits himself to sense-data, and prefers variables which can be measured and treated by the developed formalisms of mathematics. One of the foremost historians of science, Sir William Dampier, writes:
Physical science represents one analytical aspect of reality . . . . But the clear insight into its meaning which is given by modern scientific philosophy shows that by its inherent nature and definitions it is but an abstraction and that, with all its great and ever-growing power, it can never represent the whole of existence.9
If a scientific field can be more abstractive, its results will be more exact but further from ordinary life, and less adequately able to convey the immediacy, concreteness, and variety of human experience at all its levels. Furthermore, science is interested in repeatable events, reducible to general laws; it has no interest in that which is individual or unique, except as an instance of general laws. (By contrast, the historian must try to understand a unique pattern of events, which does not repeat itself; a novel, drama, or work of art cannot be reduced to general laws.) Students are quick to sense whether or not the teacher in any field recognizes the importance of other academic disciplines and other approaches to truth. Consideration of both the methods and the limitations of science is a significant classroom objective.
B. Religious Implications in Science Courses
Scientific theories and principles seldom raise religious problems, and the teacher’s world-view has little direct relevance for most of his lectures. Religion should never be extraneously brought into a discussion of technical issues. There are, however, occasional topics which have theological implications. The teacher’s approach to such problems might start from three assumptions: (a)the teacher should be concerned with how science fits into the larger framework of life, and the student should raise questions about the meaning of what he studies and its relation to other fields; (b)controversial questions can be treated, not in a spirit of indoctrination, but with an emphasis on asking questions and helping students think through assumptions and implications; an effort should be made to present viewpoints other than one’s own as fairly as possible, respecting the integrity of the student by avoiding undue imposition of the lecturer’s beliefs; (c)presuppositions inevitably enter the classroom presentation of many subjects, so that a viewpoint frankly and explicitly recognized may be less dangerous than one which is hidden and assumed not to exist.
If these assumptions are valid, a Christian teacher may make clear to his class the way in which he himself is led by his religious commitment to a particular attitude on a problem that arises, provided he does so humbly, recognizing the fallibility of human interpretations and the ease with which we rationalize in favor of our own partial perspectives. He should indicate the major alternative viewpoints that are live options in our pluralistic culture; this may require an effort to inform himself concerning the current thought of scientists, theologians, and philosophers on the point at issue. He must also try to distinguish between evidence and interpretation, though recognizing that there is no sharp line between them. With this general approach in mind, let us look at an example from physics and then one from biology.
No two men are more significant in the history of physics, or assume more prominent positions in introductory courses, than Galileo and Newton. Not only their specific results in analyzing motion and force but also their methods of investigation make them the founders of physics as we know it today. Attention in class might well be called to some of the revolutionary methodological aspects of their work: the new combination of experiment and theory, the role of mathematical analysis, concentration on descriptive explanation (how a process occurs, not why), the prominence of the categories of space and time, invention of concepts not directly observable (e.g., acceleration), and the problem of freedom in science. But these men are important historically in a third way: not only their results and their methods but the philosophical interpretations of their ideas had a major impact on Western thought. Mention of some of these influences might appropriately be included in a physics course:
1. Reality as matter in motion. Galileo divided all attributes into two groups: "primary qualities" of mass and extension, which he believed to be properties of objects themselves, and all other "secondary qualities" such as color and hotness, which he believed to be merely subjective sensations in the observer’s mind. He was attributing to external reality only those properties with which he as a physicist had been able to deal. E. A. Burtt calls this "constructing a metaphysics out of a method." "It was easier to get ahead in the reduction of nature to a system of mathematical equations by supposing that nothing existed outside the human mind not so reducible." 10 All causality was said to lie in the forces between atoms which alone constituted the real world. To explain anything meant to reduce it to its elementary parts. The influence of these assumptions was far-reaching; they were developed into the complete dualism of Descartes, the materialism of Hobbes, and the naturalism of the Age of Reason.
2. The Newtonian synthesis and the Deistic conception of God. The harmonious perfection of universal law, governing all motion from the smallest particle to the farthest planet, captured men’s imagination. Newton and his colleagues saw this as evidence of order and design, bespeaking the beneficence of a purposeful Creator. Here was the basis of Deism in which God was pictured as the great designer, the cosmic engineer, extolled in the familiar hymn of Newton’s contemporary, Addison:
The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.
Th’unwearied sun, from day to day
Does his Creator’s power display,
And publishes to every land
The work of an almighty hand.
3. The development of determinism. In the hands of later interpreters, particularly the writers of the French Enlightenment, the Newtonian world-machine was seen as deterministic and self-sufficient, the scene of purposeless and blind forces. The categories of physics, which had proved so powerful, were believed to be adequate to describe every aspect of man. Laplace claimed that if he knew the position and velocity of every particle in the universe, he could in principle predict all their future positions and hence all future events, governed by inexorable causal laws. The mechanical conception of nature continued to dominate science through the nineteenth century. Lord Kelvin stated that we do not really understand something until we can make a model of it. Illustrative of mechanistic thinking 75 years ago are the fantastic models of ether molecules devised to account for the properties of light transmission.
Reference to some of these outcomes of the Newtonian scheme is desirable not only because of their historical influence, but because the reaction of students to classical physics is likely to be similar to that of the generation following Newton. The teacher may wish to mention, either at this point or preferably later in the course, some of the modifications which twentieth-century physics has necessitated. Concerning matter-in-motion, it can be noted that mass, length, and velocity are in relativity no longer unchanging properties of objects in themselves. In quantum mechanics we have had to abandon continuous paths and perhaps the very concept of "position" as a property of a "particle." Moreover, analysis of systems into their smallest parts is no longer the main goal of explanation. The atom must be considered as a whole (in the wave-function of a 2-electron atom, even the separate identity of the electrons is lost). At higher levels, behavior must be analyzed as a total pattern rather than as an aggregate of parts.
Concerning determinism, Laplace’s claim of universal predictability has been undermined by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Probability-distributions replace exact values of variables. The time at which an individual radioactive atom will disintegrate cannot be calculated. Most physicists believe that these indeterminacies reflect fundamental aspects of atomic structure rather than temporary deficiencies in man’s knowledge. This gives no simple solution to the problem of human freedom, however, as has been indicated elsewhere." Concerning mechanical models, it can be noted that in many areas of physics we now use abstract mathematical representations which cannot be visualized at all. Moreover, a scientific theory is seldom looked on today as an exact reproduction or replica of nature "as it is in itself." The neat distinction between observer and observed breaks down. We deal with relationships, not objects in themselves; note the role of the observer’s frame of reference in relativity, or his disturbance of the system in atomic experiments. Thus mechanistic and deterministic philosophies can find less support from modern than from classical physics.
The most obvious example of religious implications in biology is the topic of evolution.12 In the debate over the relation of Genesis to the Darwinian theory of natural selection there have always been several views of the Bible. On the one hand are those who look on Scripture as completely divine, its authors having taken dictation from God. A clergyman holding this belief in verbal inspiration suggested that "God put misleading fossils in the rocks to test the faith of man." Some biologists try to preserve a modified form of scriptural inerrancy by quoting the verse "a day is as a thousand years," and then showing that after all Genesis agrees fairly well with evolution. The Roman Catholic position is that the human body may have evolved gradually, but the first human soul was created in a separate act of God. At the opposite extreme are those who look on the Bible as completely human, a record of man’s history in which God had no part. Genesis is dismissed as a primitive fable from a pre-scientific age. A middle position sees the biblical record as neither completely divine nor completely human, but as Involving both God and man; its authors conveyed profound insights into the nature Of God, but expressed this religious message in poetic form and in terms of the understanding of the world then current.
In this view, which is the dominant one in Protestantism today, the message of Genesis is that man and the world are dependent on God, that the created order is purposeful and good, and that God is free and sovereign. The scientific details of the history of nature were not what the Bible was trying to convey, and these we must learn from science. The doctrine of creation is fundamentally a statement that all existence depends upon God, an affirmation which is compatible with various scientific theories of how the details of creation were and are being accomplished. In Genesis this religious message is cast in terms of the cosmology of the ancient world; today it must be coupled with whatever cosmological view is scientifically most tenable. One might say that evolution was a part of the process by which God created. What the biblical understanding of creation rules out is not any scientific account, but other interpretive statements, such as "God is nature" (pantheism), "the world is essentially unreal" (Hinduism), "matter is ultimate" (materialism), or "the world is evil" (Schopenhauer -- and some forms of existentialism). The fact that evolution has taken place is clear, as well as the broad outlines of its history, but there are some unresolved problems still under debate among biologists. Are favorable mutations abundant enough to provide, in the time available, the variations which natural selection would require (mutations from ionizing radiations appearing to be both too rare and too predominantly unfavorable)? How can one account for the elimination of unused organs that are in no way detrimental (e.g., the eyes of cave animals), or cases where an advantage would be gained only by the simultaneous occurrence of a large number of modifications, each of which is detrimental by itself (e.g., factors in the nesting pattern of the cuckoo bird)? Such instances, for which no convincing scientific explanations have been given, are cited by some Christian biologists as evidence of God’s intervention in the process. This interpretation can be criticized on scientific grounds because it tends to discourage the search for further understanding. It can also be criticized theologically as a continuation of the "God of the gaps," attempting to invoke God as explanation for an area of ignorance. Historically this has been a rear-guard action which has surrendered further territory as new areas are explored. Newton’s astronomical data were slightly in error, so that he believed God not only started the planetary machine but had to readjust it periodically; but more accurate data seemed to leave the Divine Engineer unemployed! C. A. Coulson puts the issue clearly: "When we come to the scientifically unknown, our correct policy is not to rejoice because we have found God; itis to become better scientists."13
Rather than looking for God’s intervention at certain points, we can speak of God’s activity through the process as a whole, in the purpose evidenced by its direction and in the appearance of organization out of chaos. Here the element of design and purpose is built into the materials and conditions, the chemical properties and biological laws necessary for higher forms of life. The amazing thing is that because of what L. J. Henderson called "the fitness of the environment," random events (which should, by definition, yield chaotic and random results) can contribute to a creative and directional development. Moreover, mechanism and purpose (teleology) are not mutually exclusive categories in looking at either the behavior of a man or the evolution of the universe; we need to ask about both the mechanics of a process and its purpose.
A related problem concerns the possibility of deriving ethics from evolution. C. H. Waddington,14 the British biologist, argues that "science can provide a secure basis for ethics by discovering and exhibiting reality to be an evolutionary process tending in a certain direction, action in conformity to which is to be taken as right conduct." There are several difficulties in this idea which is common among biologists. Why should man follow the pattern of nature? Julian Huxley believes that man should co-operate because evolution evidences co-operation. But his grandfather, T. H. Huxley, believed man should co-operate for exactly the opposite reason: human ethics, he said, must be precisely the denial of the ethics of nature, which he saw as a ruthless struggle, "red in tooth and claw." A physicist suggests that ethics can be derived from the principle of entropy, since it is imperative for all men "to fight always as vigorously as possible to increase the degree of order in their environment so as to combat the natural tendency for order in the universe to be transformed into disorder."15 Besides this fundamental question of whether we are to look to nature for what we should do or for what we should not do, there are no criteria in this approach for any ethical discrimination between cases of mutual aid and of cruelty, both of which occur in nature. Nor does this theory provide any clear answer to the question: Now that further evolution in man is partially subject to his conscious control, toward what goals should he influence future human development? The attempt to derive ethics from evolution raises a number of issues which could legitimately be mentioned in a biology course.
C. Relationships to Students and Faculty
In the science teacher’s relationship to the student in the classroom the subject matter is always central. To be sure, the teacher is not just dispensing information. Education is an encounter between persons, but it is an encounter in relation to a subject. The personal factor is thus highly significant without being the direct focus of attention; though the whole person is the context, the life of the mind is the immediate concern. Education is not a dialogue, as in a counseling situation. Nor, on the other hand, is it a hierarchy in which the student is subordinate to the teacher handing down truth to him. Instead, both student and teacher are always subordinate to the demands of truth. Concern for the student as a person, which is required by both sound educational practice and religious faith, must thus in the classroom take forms related to the learning process itself. For instance, blocks to understanding are sometimes as much emotional as intellectual. A teacher’s sensitivity to what is going on in the student’s mind may require tolerance, patience, and imagination -- or, at other times, enthusiasm or even an intellectual jolt to overcome apathy. Effective communication depends on the teacher’s vision, not alone of his subject and its relevance, but of the learner’s potentialities for appreciation and understanding. Concern for the individual also means respect for his integrity, and caution about "classroom imperialism"; it is all too easy to try to mold students in one’s image and use them for one’s own ends.
A science teacher is a person and not just a scientist. As a man he recognizes aesthetic and ethical values; he is an artist and a philosopher as well as an instructor in technical principles. As a Christian he should treat his subject no less rigorously for the fact that he looks on the created order with reverence and wonder, which will be communicated in-directly to his students. In advising students outside the classroom he must avoid imposing his ideas if he is to help the counselee think through his own situation. Often the counseling relationship extends beyond academic matters, and the teacher exercises a sort of "pastoral" function. His concern is not just for the technical ability of the student, but for all the levels of his life -- the pressures of conformity, his uncertainties and confusions, his emerging image of himself and his role. The faculty adviser can help a student find opportunities, both in choice of courses and elsewhere, to think through his own philosophy of life. The total influence of a teacher is the sum of many actions, from a discussion over a cup of coffee, to assumption of campus and community responsibilities. The Jacob study16 found student attitudes and values influenced by two factors: a few outstanding professors whose personality affected their lives; and the prevailing climate of opinion or ethos of the campus. A teacher determines the atmosphere of the classroom, but he also influences the goals and norms of the academic community.
The teacher is also a member of a larger faculty. Ideally a university or college is an integral enterprise, a community of common inquiry. More characteristic of most colleges, however, is specialization and fragmentation. A university president described his institution as "a collection of departments connected by plumbing." Scientists and non-scientists are frequently in intellectual isolation from each other. There are many barriers to communication, such as lack of common knowledge and interests, or differences in the logic of discourse and criteria of meaning in various fields. Some of the reluctance to enter into real dialogue stems from insecurity in relation to other faculty members. We are hesitant to expose our ignorance outside our field; we retreat to territory in which we remain experts and can speak our own jargon. Here the Christian faith offers insight concerning anxieties about status in the eyes of others; in the experience of a new relationship to God and man, a person can be freed from excessive self-defensiveness. The Christian sense of the oneness of truth and of mutual dependence can also make us more willing to learn from each other.
Specific interdisciplinary projects can assume many forms. Coming to know colleagues socially and in personal friendship often leads to interaction at the level of ideas, though this does not result automatically. Participation in common problems relating to the intellectual life of the campus can encourage fruitful exchange. Interdepartmental seminars, or courses representing bridges between disciplines, can aid the integration of specialized knowledge by faculty as well as students. Faculty research clubs on some campuses have facilitated encounter with the creative work of colleagues, and informal discussions have dealt with the methods of various fields and their assumptions. (What view of the nature of man is implicitly taught in our various departments? At what points do value-judgments enter each discipline?) In a faculty characterized by both pluralism of viewpoints and mutual tolerance and respect, such common explorations can be rewarding.
Every faculty member has a part in planning the curriculum. Most colleges require some work in science of all students. Should "general education" courses be provided, and should more than one field be included? Some of the advantages of a "block-and-bridge" course over an "elementary survey" have already been suggested. Other problems arise in planning requirements for science majors. How can a student include all the courses necessary for competence in his field, and yet avoid becoming a narrowly specialized technician? Most universities require science majors to take work in the humanities and social sciences; M.I.T., Cal. Tech., and other high-ranking technical schools have substantial requirements in these areas. Exposure to critical thought in regard to social and ethical issues is desirable because of the role such problems will assume in the scientist’s later activities, and also because technical schools tend to be so closely associated with industry that a student can easily acquire an uncritical version of "the American business creed" without ever having really thought about it. Science majors, along with other students, should confront the perennial questions about the nature of man, God, and the goals of life, and some of the diverse answers which have been given. An academic institution has a responsibility to help each student in the development of his philosophy of life. Our colleges, founded in the name of truth, have often become exponents of success; we turn out graduates without convictions, conformists whose actions are determined by what other people are doing. Nor can Western civilization be adequately understood without some knowledge of its Greek and Hebrew roots and the religious tradition which has played so large a part in its history and thought. Some orientation in time is a mark of an educated man.
The U.S. reacted to Sputnik with action to improve science teaching in schools and universities. This reaction was justified, but it runs the danger that other fields will be neglected. The goal should be the education of every student up to his capacities -- not just the potential scientist. Some observers are apprehensive about the outcome if there is further in-crease in the trend for most of the best minds of our country to go into science. With the tremendous prestige of modern technology and with financial help coming from industry and government, there is pressure even on liberal arts colleges to become technical schools. Without lessening support for the natural sciences, the humanities and social sciences must also be strengthened. We have been suggesting that the teacher may derive from his religious faith both greater sensitivity to persons and active concern for the total educational process.
1. See chapters by H. S. Taylor in H. N. Fairchild, ed., Religious Perspectives in College Teaching (Ronald Press, 1952); K. F. Mather in P. M. Limbert, ed., College Teaching and Christian Values (Association Press, 1951).
2. J. B. Conant, On Understanding Science (Mentor Books, 1947). 3. H. Priestley, Introductory Physics (Allyn and Bacon, 1958).
4. W. C. Michels and A. L. Patterson, Elements of Modern Physics, pp. 1-2. Copyright 1951, D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., Princeton, N.J., and used by permission.
5. G. Holton, introduction to Concepts and Theories in Physical Science (Addison Wesley, 1952).
6. J. B. Conant, ed., Harvard Case Histories in Experimental Science (Harvard Univ. Press, 1957). 7. H. K. Schilling, chap. 5 in A. L. Sebaly, ed., Teacher Education and Religion (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 1959). This chapter includes an excellent bibliography. 8. See H. Margenau, The Nature of Physical Reality (McGrawHill, 1950). 9. W. C. Dampier, A History of Science (Cambridge Univ. Press, 4th ed., 1948), p. xxii. Used by permission. 10. E. A. Burtt, Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science (Doubleday, 1954), p. 305. 11. I. G. Barbour, "Indeterminacy and Freedom: a Reappraisal," Philosophy of Science, January, 1955, p. 8. 12. E.g., E. McCrady in H. N. Fairchild, ed., op. cit.; C. E. Raven, Natural Religion and Christian Theology (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1953); A. F. Smethurst, Modern Science and Christian Beliefs (Abingdon, 1955).
13. C. A. Coulson, Science and the Idea of God (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1958), p. 16. 14. C. H. Waddington, The Scientific Attitude (Penguin Books, 1948). 15. R. B. Lindsay, ‘Entropy Consumption and Values in Physical Science," American Scientist, September, 1959, p. 378. (Italics supplied) 16. P. E. Jacob, Changing Values in College (Harper, 1957).