Below is a short commentary on the history and place of ISCAST in Australia. A longer detailed history of ISCAST has been written by former ISCAST president John Pilbrow and is available here for download as a PDF.
ISCAST—the Institute for the Study of Christianity in an Age of Science and Technology—is the oldest and largest science and religion organisation in Australia, having been established under the ISCAST name in 1987. The early years were focused on promoting the message that science and the Christian faith need not be enemies. At that time the organisation was dominated largely by Protestant evangelicals who worked within the physical sciences.
Over the years the focus of ISCAST broadened to include social, political, medical and ecological sciences as well as specialists in technology, theology and philosophy. ISCAST’s membership also broadened to include both Roman Catholic and Protestant scientists, theologians and people from other fields. An effort is also being made to recruit younger people, women, and non-Caucasian scientists—all groups that were historically underrepresented.
Through all of these changes ISCAST remains committed to the need for a constructive dialogue between science and religion in general, and between science and Christianity more specifically.
However, we recognise that many non-religious thinkers believe that religion has little to contribute to the sciences and that there is no basis for dialogue. We are also aware that some within our own Christian communities believe that science is, at best, a peripheral concern and perhaps even idolatrous, and that dialogue is not a priority. Because these views persist in many segments of society and the Christian church, ISCAST remains convinced of the need to establish and maintain dialogue.
ISCAST argues that this dialogue will benefit not only individuals in their professional context, providing pastoral support, mentoring and encouragement in their personal challenges, but the dialogue also benefits both the churches and the wider community. Churches struggle with the apologetic challenges posed by the rapidly developing sciences, and the wider community is benefitted as the insights that this dialogue generates are offered humbly to our society, which is faced with progressively more complex problems.
ISCAST continues to be committed to the need for scientific and Christian thinking to be integrated into the daily lives of those Christians working within the various sciences, and in the lives of clergy, theologians and indeed all Christians, who find themselves immersed in the modern technoscientific world.