Calgary Herald - Science and faith at New Hope Church - John Van Sloten

March 16, 2012

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Media @ New Hope CalgaryBy Mario Toneguzzi, Calgary Herald March 16, 2012

In some circles, science and faith are not really a good match.
But they’ve found a comfortable home for discussion at Calgary’s New Hope Church.
Pastor John Van Sloten will be preaching on this matter for three straight Sundays in late April.

Last year, the church received a $30,000 US grant from the John Templeton Foundation to “explore the intersection of faith and science.”
Two messages have already been preached.

On April 22, the topic is geophysics. On April 29, it’s the hydrology of the Bow River. And on May 6, it’s on the human leg and God’s truth in human biomechanics.

“We went down to California, the scientist on the project and myself, and discovered of the 40 grants for $30,000 that Templeton gave out, we’re the only ones who are preaching it. I found that interesting. Most people just bring a scientist and they have some kind of dialogue with the faith community,” says Van Sloten.

“In terms of our local community, they love it. Our leadership team is now saying we need to be engaging science. Every year, we need to do a series of messages on science. It’s part of God’s world that reveals something of who God is. This is a chapter of creation that needs to become a regular thing in our community.

“I’m trained in theology. Have no training whatsoever in terms of these topics that I’m engaging. I’m being led to speak to people who are experts in the text to write the sermon ... The sermons have to be written by the community when you’re preaching science and part of that community has to include scientists.”

He says a Canada research chair in geosciences is helping him with a sermon on the river. The founder of the human performance lab at the University of Calgary, Dr. Benno Nigg will be helping Van Sloten on the runner’s leg topic and a couple of local geophysicists from the oil industry will assist in the topic of geophysics.

“That’s really cool. When have these scientists ever been asked by a theologian, a pastor, to help write a sermon?,” says Van Sloten. “When has what they’re so passionate about, been recognized and respected in church and honoured by becoming the topic of a Sunday sermon? So it’s been really cool interacting with the scientists.”

Previous topics on this series have been the human kidney and epigenetics — what can gene expression teach us about who God is.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
Photograph by: Lorraine Hjalte , Calgary Herald

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