The Best of Covalence

We have been online now since 2010 and while our content goes back to the early years of the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology in the late 1980s, we thought it was as good a time as any to offer up listing of some of our most popular stories.

Covalence, the online magazine for the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology, has been around for more than a decade and grew out of a previous print newsletter called “Convergence.”

Why the name Covalence? A covalent bond is a molecular bond that involves the sharing of electron pairs between atoms. This type of bond creates a new material that is stronger than the individual elements, which is a metaphor for the strength in insight via the faith and science shared dialogue.

We hope our stories here illumine some of that shared strength. We have published well over 100 articles some of which were authored by well-known faith and science scholars. Some are Lutheran and others are not.

As many attendees of the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Houston are now only getting an introduction to Covalence, what follows is a compilation of some of our most popular articles.

Profile: Ida Hakkarinen

Many scientists are present on any given Sunday in the pews. Ida Hakkarinen is one such scientist, who may be found attending Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church and Student Center in College Park, Maryland. She is a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and works on a joint NOAA/NASA project developing the next generation of geostationary weather satellites at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Ida is a member of the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science, and Technology and an active leader within the ELCA. Here she takes some time to share with us the overlap she finds between her vocation and life of faith.

Well-known Lutheran astronomer discovers new evidence of star formation

A research team led by Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase, an Adler Planetarium astronomer and scholar active in the religion and science dialogue, has discovered new evidence of stars forming in our Milky Way Galaxy. Wolf-Chase is a public advocate for citizen science and education, and earlier this year spoke to attendees at the Ecumenical Roundtable on Science, Technology and the Church hosted at the Churchwide Office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). Wolf-Chase told her story of coming out of her physics studies at Cornell University thinking that faith and science couldn’t mix.

Popular culture’s witness to moral urgency

Robert Oppenheimer is a classic example of ambivalence towards science and technology. Oppenheimer, a brilliant physicist and director of the Los Alamos lab that produced the first atom bomb, is one of the most important scientists of the 20th century.

Lutheran Insights for Science-Theology Dialogue

Three closely related themes of the Lutheran theological tradition provide a distinctive starting point from which to approach dialogue between Christian faith and science.  First, Luther’s theology of the cross insists that we are brought to know the true God only from God’s historical self-revelation centered on Christ crucified.

Telling a story of human becoming

Religion-and-science must be about the human journey, about the struggle to arrive at the meaning of being human today. It is a journey searching for new symbols by which to interpret an experience that is formative for our times. This journey is also a journey of becoming human. Here we want to examine religion-and-science in this larger context of what it means to become human in our time.

Awareness and conversation

“I have a very strong feeling that science exists to serve human welfare. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity given us by society to do basic research, but in return, we have a very important moral responsibility to apply that research to benefiting humanity.” (Walter Orr Roberts, 1915-1990)

How does God create life?

The limitations of a strictly mathematical approach become clear when we deal with complex systems, especially the complex phenomenon “life.” It is hard even to give a satisfactory definition of life, let alone a formula for it! It is not that biology has no use for mathematics — recall Mendel’s use of statistics to analyze the results of his experiments. Ian Stewart’s The Mathematics of Life (Basic, 2011) gives many other examples. But this doesn’t mean that all biology can be derived from mathematical physics.

Science and the Reformation

The Reformation’s beginning is dated to 1517. Much of what we call science is considerably younger than that, so it might seem that there is little connection between the two. I propose here to explore interactions between the two, however, as a way to sketch how the Reformation challenged enough intellectual habits to foster the independence of thought necessary for science to flourish in subsequent centuries. Some branches of science had thrived during the Middle Ages, in the sense that people preserved some of the thoughts of the ancient Greeks and also collected data of various kinds.

Seeing and believing as a scientist

We perform precision experiments to test the theoretical predictions of a model that quantitatively describes the interaction of subatomic particles. Precision experiments, particles, quantification, and theoretical models — my workweek sounds rather cold and calculating. And on Sunday mornings, I go to church.

Four implications for the future of the church in a scientific world

When the ELCA was just getting started, the late John Mangum was instrumental in starting a work group which eventually became the Lutheran Alliance on Faith, Science and Technology. Over the past 27 years I have frequently quoted a statement that he made in introducing a book about faith-science conversations. “Today’s churches have no other place to fulfill their mission than a world whose basic assumptions are pervaded more and more by science.” (John M. Mangum (ed.), The New Faith-Science Debate:  Probing Cosmology, Technology, and Theology (Fortress, Minneapolis, 1989), p.vi)

The Green Way: How the church is defining its role on the journey to sustainability

There is an issue many Christians today are pondering. In the Nicene creed we affirm that God is “maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen” and this earthly home sustains us and gives us joy. So how is it that our existence is blotting out the sustainability of the rest of the creation?

The church’s evolving role to play in the age of biological manipulation

When it came to a wooly clone of Dolly the sheep, the Church of England had a list of reservations about the genetic technology at the ready prior to the scientists’ announcement. But today, the CRISPR technology has flown under the church’s radar and is host to a myriad of ethical and moral issues that scientists themselves are grappling with seemingly on their own.

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