Christianity and the Scientist

by Ian Barbour

Ian G. Barbour is 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.

Published by Associated Press, New York, 1960. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) An analysis of the ethical dilemmas scientists and technologists actually face in the areas of science and religion.


  • Preface Being a physicist as well as a student of theology, the author has avoided the claim that there is only one way in which the life of the scientist can be a proper life. And it is not necessary to suppose that the life and work of a scientist is a purely secular affair.
  • Chapter 1: Introduction: The Vocation of The Scientist The author describes four aspects of vocation: to serve human need, to seek truth, to work for a better society, and to worship God.
  • Chapter 2: Applied Science And Human Welfare Science has improved health, raised standards of living, and alleviated suffering. If love of neighbor is not a sentimental attitude but actual response to human needs, science can obviously be a potent instrument of good will. But technology has had destructive as well. To what extent is a scientist responsible for the uses to which his inventions are put?
  • Chapter 3: Scientific Research and the Pursuit of Truth Most scientists are driven by intellectual curiosity and the desire to know, as much as by interest in practical applications. What are the strengths and limitations of the pursuit of knowledge and its relation to religious perspectives?
  • Chapter 4: The Science Teacher and the Student The specific case of the science teacher, with some of his opportunities and problems. The teacher may derive from his religious faith both greater sensitivity to persons and active concern for the total educational process.
  • Chapter 5: Science and the Social Order Used creatively to fulfill the lives of persons, technology may help bring in an age of universal well-being; in an inadequate social context it may contribute to human degradation and enslavement, if not destruction or extinction.
  • Chapter 6: The Scientist as a Person The author deals with the scientist’s vocation to worship God, and the impact of technical work on his personal life and religious beliefs. The world needs scientists who both do their job well and do it with social vision. And the church needs laymen who carry the gospel into the life of the world in both deed and word.