wrbc_out_wedsaf_smlI have never felt any real conflict between scientific research and following Jesus. I find both are aiming to find true answers and to avoid trivia and deception. I became a Christian under the ministry of a church leader who had been a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy in the War protecting north Atlantic convoys.  From the start I realised following Jesus was never going to be a soft option.

At university, my inorganic chemistry lecturer was Dr J Chadwick. His research was into the elements Indium, Thallium and Gallium, now used widely in touch screen electronics. This led to his death from cancer. We knew he was a Christian but I later learned he used vacations for work with Christian missions. He certainly did not see any conflicts between science and Christianity and as a result, I started using holidays in the same way.

At that time the “accepted thinking” was that the universe had always existed with no beginning. In the following years this was challenged by many lines of research beginning in the 1940s. Edwin Hubble related the observation of a “red shift” in light from distant galaxies to the speed at which they are moving away from a point in the universe where things started with a “Big Bang”, now estimated to be 13.75 billion years ago. The discovery of microwave background radiation reinforced this idea and now the “accepted thinking” is that everything results from a single event. At the time I felt this related well to the story of Genesis 1 which wasn’t trying to be ‘scientific’. But it did challenge the myths of the day describing the world made from corpses resulting from war amongst the gods. I could see it assumed a rational, life-giving presence behind everything that is – assumptions allowing the rise of modern science.

More recently it has been found that even a minute change in any of the six fundamental constants of the universe would mean that this universe could not exist. For instance – and here I get a bit technical – a change of 1 part in 1040 in the “weak force” – also known as gravity – would mean that the expansion of the universe would be too explosive for galaxies to form or that galaxies would collapse. That’s about the same chances as one person winning the National Lottery jackpot three weeks in succession! I find – in the words of a traditional hymn – I’m ‘lost in wonder, love and praise’ as I consider the delicate balance that makes the life we know possible.

In the last 20 years a group of aggressive atheists, led by Richard Dawkins, have popularised the idea that science and faith are in conflict and that thinking people have to make a choice. They claim that ALL Christians believe the ideas of the “Creationists” who read the early chapters of Genesis as a science text book and insist that God made the world in seven days. Some even dated it to October 23, 4004 BC, following a 17th century bishop called Ussher! I find this debate both sad and misplaced. My daughter, Hannah, is a research microbiologist and has seen evolutionary change taking place when she grows bacteria in the presence of antibiotics. I don’t see why the creator of the universe should not use evolutionary change to develop the wonderful forms of life we see everywhere.

I was impressed by the story David Suchet – of Poirot fame – who became a Christian because he found truth in the Bible. The scientist Johannes Kepler described his work as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”. For me researching the how questions of science are in a wonderful harmony with the why questions of theology! And it’s given me the opportunity to be a scientist throughout my working life! And I still do mission work with an agency that encourages Christian professionals to use their skills in areas of need and opportunity.