Published: 9 years ago

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.

  1. Emily Hogan says:

    To answer your title question: YES. I believe that the study of God’s creation is part of the pursuit of knowledge of and relationship with Him. A more relevant question is: Do scientists tolerate faith all the time?

    I also attend the journal club Kiani wrote about, and this was the first time we’ve so directly addressed religion since I’ve been attending. The conversation was hostile, but I think it was largely due to the guest speaker’s opinions and word choice (‘elite,’ ‘contempt,’ ‘unreachable’). The conversation started with challenging both a belief in God and a belief that science is/can be accessible to everyone. I suspect that the guest speaker’s strong rejection of the second point, one of the underlying assumptions/goals of the journal club, undermined his credibility to speak on the first in the eyes of many of the people who regularly attend, regardless of their personal beliefs about God. I think that Kiani and the other Christians in the room came off more gracious and inclusive than the guest speaker. Personally, I was surprised and pleased to discover believers/seekers in that room, which I had assumed would be predominantly atheist.

    Also: The professor we’ve been talking about is from the philosophy department, and while he does write about science, I do not know if he has any experience actually doing science.

  2. Argyle says:

    i knew you were going to address me at some point on your blog Daniel. Thank you so much for your kind words about me in the first 2 sentences of this blog.

    Blessings be upon you.

  3. Aaron Tant says:

    Wow… having just watched Expelled with Ben Stein, her comments are so identical that it is scary. I was somewhat skeptical that maybe Stein’s information was skewed to prove his point, but real-life testimony from Kiani just adds fuel to the fire. I’ve lived out some of that ridicule, but I don’t possess a great deal of intellect in the field of science, but I love reading on it. Kiani, hold fast in your scientific pursuits (and in philosophy). Sometimes, logic will not prevail when discussing Christ. I love apologetics, but it doesn’t always matter, sometimes its just Christ that gets the point across.

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