Last week I interviewed experimental particle physicist, Dr. Michael G. Strauss of Oklahoma University. Despite our Texas-Oklahoma rivalry, we had a great conversation and I greatly enjoyed meeting Dr. Strauss.
Dr. Strauss recently released a book, The Creator Revealed, in which he discusses how modern advances in science continue to point to what Genesis 1:1 has said all along, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
I have read many similar books on similar topics, but have never had the pleasure of interviewing any scientists in the field. So, this was something I have looked forward to for a long time.
In the midst of our conversation, Dr. Strauss listed three tips he would give to any aspiring Christian scientists.
1. Be really good at what you do. At some point or another, many people will ask “What is God’s will for my life?” This general question is often aimed at the particular application of vocation. What job does God want me to have? Unsurprisingly, there is not a list of vocations in the Bible that says what jobs are acceptable and which are not. There is also no verse saying, “Haden, I want you to do this.” What we have is God’s general will. God’s will is for all of mankind to have a saving relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus. It is our job to share this good news and call people to repentance and faith. One way to do this is through our vocation.
“Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people,” Colossians 3:23
The Christian shoemaker does not honor God by putting small crosses on the front of every shoe he makes. He honors God by making the best shoe possible. The Christian scientist doesn’t honor God by only talking about the relationship between God and science. She does so by being the best scientist she can be. If you are a really good scientist, you will have a lot of leeway. It will be hard to keep you out because of your personal beliefs.
2. Know the rules of the game. There is a common belief that Christians are unwelcome in the scientific community. I presented this belief to Dr. Strauss and asked for his comments. His response surprised me, given my disposition to believe such things. He stated that there may be some light push back every once in a blue moon, but that nothing had ever prevented him from doing his job. Everywhere he goes he meets sincere Christians in the scientific community. Sure, they may be a minority, but committed Christians have always been a minority. What really surprised me was when he said, “Some of the scientists who have been ‘persecuted’ did things that were not smart professionally.” He didn’t go into any detail as to what one of these rules might look like, but insinuated that in most cases, there is another explanation as to why the person has been “persecuted”. In general, he assured me, people are not persecuted for their personal beliefs. He also said it differed among fields. In his own field , physics, there are many deists – people who believe in a creator. One can imagine this may be different in a field like biology where there is the common false equivalence between atheism and evolution.
3. Be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. Dr. Strauss says, “Don’t hide your Christianity, but know when to stand up as a Christian and how to do it in a way that is profitable and beneficial.” Dr. Strauss went on to share a story where he witnessed someone degrade certain aspects of the Christian faith in a public meeting. In response, a Christian stood up and gave a perfect defense in front of an audience of a couple hundred physicists. The response was not only not negative, but actually rewarding to the person who took a stand. It comes down to using wisdom to understand when and how to stand up for your faith. Sometimes the best thing is to remain wisely silent, sometimes the right thing is to stand up.
Science is an endeavor that Christians should be chomping at the bits to join. Dr. Strauss understands how God works in ways that I can’t imagine because of his technical knowledge as a physicist. As we study God’s creation, we learn more and more about his character.