What do we make of the scientific response to Coronavirus? The swift development of a Covid vaccine has been described as a 'miracle'. We explore the scientific response to Covid, the impact of religion on science and consider an even bigger problem which also requires salvation.
Our guest: Dr Denis Alexander. Denis is Emeritus Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and Emeritus Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge. He worked for many years as a molecular biologist and now he writes, lectures and broadcasts widely in the field of science and religion.
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Bigger Questions asked in this conversation
Denis, you are involved in the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, what exactly does the Faraday Institute do?
I seem to remember something about Faraday from my high school physics - who was Faraday?
Is it true we have him to thank for electricity?
So you use a lot of electricity in his honour?
But he also had something to do with religion?
Interest in Science
So, what about you Denis, what fascinates you about science?
Now, there’s a fairly widespread opinion that science and theology are in opposition. So did you have to ignore your scientific worldview when you decided to be a Christian?
What convinced you to become a Christian believer?
Were there challenges to your belief in God as you progressed in your professional science career?
But isn’t there the idea that Christianity impedes scientific progress? It’s common to believe that nothing holds back scientific and technological progress like religion. So Denis, how do you see your Christian faith intersect with your scientific research?
Science and Coronavirus
Speaking of scientific progress, the Coronavirus pandemic has caused all sorts of challenges across the world with over 100 million cases and over 2 million people deaths. It’s been an enormous medical and scientific challenge and many people have turned to science and the search for Coronavirus vaccines. Some have said that ‘Never before have scientists and clinicians united with such scale and singular focus.’ The research into Covid-19 is a bit different to cancer, which was your area of expertise. What have you made of the scientific response to Coronavirus?
What do you make of the speed at getting a vaccine?
In recent months there have been a number of articles with the theme that science will save us from Covid-19. There is a confidence that science and the vaccines that scientists created will stop the pandemic and save the day. So is it too much to say that science will save us from Coronavirus?
Bible: salvation in Jesus
But the Bible claims that Jesus saves, in Acts 4:12 speaking about Jesus that,
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’
What is meant here, because Jesus can’t really save us from the pandemic?
But Jesus isn’t going to produce a vaccine - surely that would be more use to more people than some kind of spiritual salvation?
Christian response to Covid
But given that salvation is found in no one else, does this mean that Christians shouldn’t have medical help or that God is opposed to being saved by science? Because some have been praying that God will save them from the virus, without any medical assistance. One pastor once said, ‘covid-19 is an evil from which control and protection can only come direct from the Almighty.’ Is this your view - that God will act independently of any medical or scientific advance?
But these people firmly believe that “God is larger than this dreaded virus” - so do you think that the virus is bigger than God?
The Big Question
So Denis, will science save us?