Science & Faith: Can They Co-Exist?
In case you’re new to the Summit or you’re an outside observer whose sum total knowledge of this church is due to my blog (sorry about that), you should know that we have some kick-tail, take-no-prisoners smart people that attend this church. As the guy who still can’t figure out my ninth grade biology experiment where we studied attached vs. detached earlobes (my official thesis: “Why the heck does it MATTER?!?”), I’m fascinated by the academically gifted people that God sends here.
The following is an e-mail from Kiani, one of our graduate students at a local university. (Yes, I know you only have a few local universities to pick from, but I’m trying to be covert here.) Although Kiani has given me full permission to share her story, we agree that some of the key names will be left out in respect to her professors and classmates. This is good stuff…take a minute to read it and then thank God for believers like Kiani who articulate their biblical convictions with grace and kindness.
I am in a group called the [Science Club]. It’s a group of people concerned with science policy and education in the community. We generally have lively conversation, and God tends to be brought up at least marginally at each of our monthly meetings.
I just got done with one, where [big name science guy] was a special guest speaker. I’ve attached the part of his upcoming book that we were required to read for the meeting. You just need to get through the first page or two to understand where that talk was going.
After 15 minutes there, I raise my hand to ask what his purpose in writing this book was. He responds, “Well, it’s certainly not to entertain the discussion of ‘believers,’ since they are ignorant and unreachable. Plus, I can’t have that discussion without huge levels of contempt.”
This starts a huge barrage of attacks on faith and those who have it. I raise my hand to say, “Regardless of what you believe, this rhetoric of intolerance and contempt isn’t going to get anyone to listen. When I share the Gospel, it’s not out of my need to be right and tell everyone else that they are wrong. It’s because I love God, I love Christ, and I love people, and I want them to know this love. Your vocabulary of elitism could be why you find us believers to be so unreachable.”
His response: “You’re Christian? Interesting that you’ve made it this far in science. I wonder exactly what kind of a scientist you are.”
Me: “You’ve passed a judgement on me, haven’t you? In your mind, and I’m sure with many others here, as soon as I revealed the secret that I believe that Jesus is the Christ, my competency as a scientist fell through the floor. This is common. And you wonder why scientists are hesitant to profess faith to their colleagues?”
This went of for a while. He yelled at me twice – a [local university] professor shouting at a third-year graduate student. Classy. One MD and four other grad students joined him.
I almost screamed. I almost cried. I didn’t. I stayed calm. Raised my hand to speak. Answered his questions. Twice, the topic was completely changed, and he took the initiative to turn it back to me, asking me why I have faith, and why I think the National Academy of Science was 75% atheist.
Over the course of the lecture, two other women also admitted that they were Christian. At the end of the two hour discussion, everyone left. No one stopped him. Three of my classmates asked me to have coffee with them in the next few weeks.
I felt very discouraged at the time, but I’m feeling a lot better now. I wanted to share this with you. Both to demonstrate the hostility of the science community, and to share my minor victory. He may be publishing a book, but I’m building relationships.