Not Just Science and Christians in academia

From Growing Up Goddy on August 20, 2007. 

I believe it’s entirely meet and appropriate to post here and say “y’know what, life intervenes, sorry ’bout that.” And it does. I won’t get into my own excuses, but they’re pretty good.

But if I’m going to toss an oar in, I’d better have something to chew on.

We were at an outlet mall in Gaffney, South Carolina, this past weekend – for reasons that involve a four-hour journey to fetch a car (see, I told you, pretty good excuses). The book store in the outlet mall was a wonderful treasure trove of old and new Christian books, almost exclusively Zondervan-published. And my wife, who knows me and loves me and understands my hardcore geekiness, dug a tome entitled Not Just Science out of the pile.

And, of course, my first response was: Egads, if I had known Zondervan was publishing textbooks

It’s not a standard softball Christian book. This is meant to be used in an undergrad curriculum, and I’d honestly be scared to turn it loose on some of my freshmen. It hits history of science, philosophy, theology, and ethics early and often, and rather than just diving in to “oooh look at all the cool questions scientists answer” from word go it sets up the issues at the interface of all the natural sciences and religious faith in general (and, of course, Christianity in particular). I’m not even close to digging into it in depth yet.

Part of the goal of such a book, in my view, is to begin to dialogue about “authentic Christian science”, and decide what that phrase might actually mean. And that’s a question that Christian higher ed institutions might see a reason to answer, and the fact that I work for one such institution [1] means that I feel like I have some responsibility to work on answering that question my own self.

Why is it important to be a “real true Christian” doing science? Is it for the sake of the diversity in scientific thought? To save the souls of the unbelievers working alongside you? For the sake of worshiping God through the analytical bent of my mind? To help rescue the mind of science from the dangers of secular liberalism (or, possibly, secular conservatism)? All of the above? None of the above?

Why is it important to be a “real true Christian” in any vocation, for that matter?

I have my own small set of answers, and they seem to be different from everybody else’s. I don’t know whether that’s right or wrong. I am confident that there’s a reason for me to be here in this place and time, though.

(Nothing too coherent, but at least a placeholder until better thoughts come along.)

[1] despite the fact that I DO NOT SPEAK FOR MY EMPLOYER; I DON’T GUARANTEE ANYTHING; I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYTHING; I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING; I DON’T EVEN EXIST!

(Hat tip to my old postdoctoral lab. I always thought that line was hilarious. I don’t know why.)

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