Call to Worship: 1 Corinthians 1:20-24,19,25 (in that order)
You should memorize and practice delivering the words of this passage, since it is a very powerful piece of oratory. Read the verses dramatically, with appropriate gestures.
Opening Hymn: "Come, All Who Fear the Lord God"
This hymn already reflects the fact that this service will be anti-scientism—though not anti-science.
Law: Job 28
This is a beautiful chapter on the question "Where shall wisdom be found?"
Prayer of Confession:
"We have often not wanted to deal with our doubts and intellectual struggles ... (etc.)"
Select a piece that overwhelms our minds as it describes the immense size of the universe.
Prayer for Illumination:
"We need clarity as well as inspiration, Lord. You address not only our hopes and fears, but also our minds. Speak to us today, Lord, with all the dignity and honesty we desire as people of science, people with minds that you yourself have given us and called us to use."
Scripture: 1 Samuel 13:23-14:15 and Acts 26:22-29
Both passages illustrate that faith and subtle cunning can easily go hand in hand.
- Tell a bit about the Galileo trial story, reading part of this famous scientist's recantation: "I, Galileo Galilei, wishing to remove from the minds of your eminences and of every true Christian this vehement suspicion justly cast upon me ... do swear that I shall never again speak or assert...(etc.)"
- Note that the whole Galileo affair was very complex, and that a major part of the problem was caused by personal enmities and hostilities rather man "church versus science"; be appropriately humorous about the church's recent belated apology.
- Note that Christianity actually promotes science and is a major cause of modern science. Historically, science has emerged mostly in "Christian" Western civilization. Theologically, this happened because of the desacralizing of creation ("a tree is not God, so I can study trees").
- Point out how Jonathan and Paul, in the Scripture passages for today, combined their intellect and their faith. Defend freedom of inquiry within the context of a trusting relationship with God, and encourage members of the congregation not to be afraid of using their brains. Affirm the young people in their questioning and exploring. (If possible, find out what topics students from your church are now studying, which exams and science fairs are coming up, etc.)
- Point out how little human beings really know (cf. the vastness of the universe, or even our own Milky Way galaxy, let alone developing a cure for the common cold). True scientific exploration, therefore, requires a basic assumption of humility. Science is merely "the most recent consensus." To achieve consensus, one needs peer review, methodological scrutiny, and the like. And to be successful in those things, one needs humility and courtesy. Christianity not only promotes science, but also gives us the humility we need to do science properly.
Hymn of Response: "How Great Thou Art," verses 1-3
[PsH 483 PH 467,TH 44]
Select several quotes from believing scientists, such as Blaise Pascal or Howard Van Till.
Give thanks for all Christians everywhere who are engaged in scientific study.
Cancer research or some other scientific enterprise would be an appropriate cause.
Offertory Hymn: "Take My Life and Let It Be"
[PsH 288-289, PH 391, RL 475 TH 585]
Doxology: "How Great Thou Art," verse 4
[PsH 483,PH 467,TH44]