2,700 Christian leaders have signed a document supporting the scientific conclusions about coronavirus and the subsequent need for a workable vaccine.
The statement was published by the Biologos Foundation - a Christian organisation seeking to promote "the harmony between science and biblical faith" which was established by prominent Christian geneticist Francis Collins.
Collins, a recent Templeton Prize winner and former leader of the Human Genome Project, is now the director of the National Institutes for Health (NIH) in the US and a key figure in the development of a Covid-19 vaccine.
"We, the undersigned, join together as Christians who uphold the authority of God’s Word and see science as a tool to understand God’s world. We call on all Christians to follow the advice of public health experts and support scientists doing crucial biomedical research on COVID-19," the statement reads.
In the United States particularly, the science behind Covid-19 pandemic, combined with attitudes towards a potential vaccine, have come increasingly divided along staunch political lines. A deep scepticism of the scientific evidence for modes of transmission and a rejection of the officially recorded infection rates has caused many to flout social distancing rules, refuse to wear masks and, in some cases, suggest that the whole thing is a hoax. For the scientists and medical professionals involved on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19, it has become an incredibly frustrating trend.
"We are deeply concerned about the polarisation and politicisation of science in the public square when so many lives are at stake," the statement continues. "The word 'science' has become a weapon in the culture wars. Scientists are vilified and their findings ignored, while conspiracy theories go viral. Sadly, Christians seem just as susceptible to these trends. Thoughtful Christians may disagree on public policy in response to the coronavirus, but none of us should ignore clear scientific evidence."
The signatories noted that it was "appropriate for Christians to be skeptical of claims made by scientists who speak outside their area of expertise," but that they "firmly reject claims that science has somehow shown God does not exist or faith is mere superstition".
"Such claims go beyond what science is capable of investigating. We lament the times when science and medicine have been misused to perpetrate atrocities like the racist Tuskegee experiments. But Christians should listen to scientists and doctors when they speak in their area of expertise, especially when millions of lives are at stake.
"The Bible teaches that our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14). Thus, those doing biomedical research—whether they are Christians or not—are studying the very handiwork of God. Scientists are discovering truths about the virus, our bodies, treatments, and vaccines. As Christians, we know that all truth, including scientific truth, is ultimately from God.
"God can do miracles of healing, but God also uses doctors and scientists to bring healing. Before Jonas Salk discovered his vaccine, polio killed 350,000 people a year, most of them children. Christians in the biomedical sciences, like Dr. Francis Collins, see their work as continuing the healing ministry of Jesus (Matthew 15:30). Pursuing medical treatment is not a sign of weak faith in God, but a grateful acceptance of God’s gifts."
The statement also outlines a number of commitments that signatories declare to abide by in light of the pandemic, including: wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, correcting misinformation, working for justice and, finally, prayer.
In May, Franics Collins told the BBC that he was "optimistic" a that the Covid-19 will eventually come to an end, and that a successful vaccine will be developed. "In the longterm, I am optimistic. I think this is a disease where a vaccine ought to work.. I'm hopeful in regard," he said. "I hope everyone else feels that sense as well... even as we're all fearful and anxious and grieving about what's around us... that we keep that sense of hope."