Posted By Ruth D. Miller,
Monday, October 07, 2013
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My father brought this (rather long) article to my attention. It is discouraging, frightening and hopeful all at the same time. Comments welcome. It ran in print on 6 October.
Posted By Ruth D. Miller,
Monday, October 07, 2013
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Messiah College is looking for an engineering professor, preferably (but not absolutely) in Mechanical or Biomedical Engineering, and they really really want to hire a woman. The job listing is here:
Ted Davis is one well-known ASA member at Messiah and would probably be happy to answer questions. Please forward this on to whomever you think would be a good fit.
Posted By Alice C. Linsley,
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
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Kim Tweten is a mechanical engineer and the wife of Dennis Tweten PhD and professor of Engineering at Taylor University. Kim and Dennis have three daughters: Lillian, Evelyn, and Annelise.
Drawing Our Daughters into the Sciences
By Kim Tweten
I have 3 precious daughters. They love to sew, write stories about fairies, dance and play the piano. When I ask them if they will follow in the footsteps of their mother and father (we are both Mechanical Engineers) they shudder and run for their stuffed animal covered bedrooms.
While they DO have sets of legos and enjoy the science museum, we like for these topics to be more of a regular topic of conversation around our house. Here are a few practical things we do to engage our children’s interest in science and math:
Encourage them to create
As a child, on quiet afternoons by myself, I found a great deal of satisfaction in sewing. Understanding how flat pieces would come together to form 3 dimensional objects was central to my future as an engineer. Spatial intelligence is beneficial for many scientists. Creating with beads can be a starting point for a conversation about computer languages and digital concepts. Fostering creativity is a huge asset as a future problem solver, as well.
Talk to them about science and math they encounter in their lives
My daughter took up soccer this fall. She had an epiphany one day while out on the rope swing in our yard. "Mom, when I want to kick the ball harder… it’s like the swing – if I pull my leg back further, I will have more push for the ball, and it will go further!” What a grand opportunity for me to share with her about pendulum motion, rockets, and trebuchets. While spending time at the beach we visit local aquariums. When the water boils on the stove for tea, we discuss how heat affects atoms and molecules and how change of state occurs from solid to liquid to gas. We discuss how one sister’s new understanding in multiplication with double numbers could be represented with an algebraic equation. We figure out what the equation is and test it on a few simple problems. Science and math are all around us and its fun to look for ways to point that out to children. Doing so makes it less foreign and more familiar.
Guide them into meaningful relationships with women in science
We have been blessed with a pile of female friends with degrees in the sciences. Those women have become regulars at our dinner table. Our friends cook meals, enjoy martial arts, sew, have pets, laugh, travel, exercise and have friends over for games or movies. They are PhD’s in the sciences, MD’s who volunteer in missionary settings, and fascinating women living joyful & interesting lives. And most of all, they are women who have deep, abiding faith in God. We have come to care for those women as substitute aunties in our lives… and our girls are able to see that women in the sciences are to be admired. Enriching our lives with godly women in science and math paints a possible future for our daughters in these interesting fields.
We find that our daughters enjoy being engaged with creativity, seeing science and math around them, and befriending women in the sciences. While we can’t be sure that they will pursue a future in the sciences (after all, they love to write, and dance, and sew) we know that they will delight in science concepts and see math as a normal part of life.
Related reading: Jennifer Wiseman: How to Help Young Christians in the Sciences
Posted By Alice C. Linsley,
Monday, September 30, 2013
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Alice C. Linsley
Christian women can gain encouragement from reading about the lives of other Christian women in the sciences, in math, and in technology. Here are three women whose lives of service have left a mark on the world.
Agnes Giberne (1845–1939)
Agnes Giberne was born in the state of Karnataka in India where her father, Major Charles Giberne, was in military service. She was a prolific British author who wrote fiction with religious themes for children and books on astronomy for young people. She was a devout Anglican and wrote for the Religious Tract Society. She was a founding member of the British Astronomical Association.
Her illustrated book Sun, Moon and Stars: Astronomy for Beginners (1879), with a foreword by Oxford Professor of Astronomy, Charles Pritchard, was printed in several editions on both sides of the Atlantic, and sold 24,000 copies in its first 20 years. Most of her writing was done before 1910.
In her book Through the Linn; or, Miss Temple's Wards (Google e-book) is found this prayer that was quoted in over 100 books of early 20th century:
Gracious Saviour, gentle Shepherd,
Children all are dear to Thee;
Gathered with Thine arms and carried
In Thy bosom may we be;
Sweetly, fondly, safely tended,
From all want and danger free.
Tender Shepherd, never leave us
From Thy fold to go astray;
By Thy look of love directed
May we walk the narrow way;
Thus direct us, and protect us,
Lest we fall an easy prey.
Sister Mary Celine Fasenmyer (1906 -1996)
Mary Celine Faenmyer was a mathematician, most noted for her work on hypergeometric functions and linear algebra.
Mary grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania. For ten years after her graduation from high school she studied and taught at Mercyhurst College in Erie. It was there that she joined the Sisters of Mercy and dedicated her life to teaching and ministry.
She pursued her mathematical studies in Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan, obtaining her doctorate in 1946 under the direction of Earl Rainville with a dissertation entitled Some Generalized Hypergeometric Polynomials. The hypergeometric polynomials she studied are called Sister Celine's polynomials.
After getting her Ph.D., Sister Mary Celine published two papers which expanded on her doctorate work. These papers would be further elaborated by Doron Zeilberger and Herbert Wilf into "WZ theory", which allowed computerized proof of many combinatorial identities.
Katharine HayhoeKatharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and the wife of an evangelical pastor. She serves as an expert reviewer for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Katharine has a B.Sc. in physics and astronomy from the University of Toronto and an M.S. and Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois.As an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, part of the Department of Interior's South-Central Climate Science Center, Katharine develops new ways to quantify the potential impacts of human activities at the regional scale. As founder and CEO of ATMOS Research, she also bridges the gap between scientists and stakeholders to provide relevant, state-of-the-art information on how climate change will affect our lives to a broad range of non-profit, industry and government clients.Her climate research has been featured in the PBS documentary series, The Secret Life of Scientists, and in articles including True Believer that appeared in On Earth magazine in 2012, and Spreading the global warming gospel that appeared in the LA Times in 2011. With her husband, Andrew Farley, she coauthored A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions (FaithWords). Katharine was named in 2012 by Christianity Today as one of 50 Women to Watch.Related reading: Christian Women in Science, Technology and Engineering
Posted By Alice C. Linsley,
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
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Lynn Billman is a scientist and analyst who is just about to retire after 26 years at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and 10 years at Chevron and Amoco. She feels that the Lord has opened a door in her next chapter of life to work with Christians in the sciences, especially women.
To my amazement, I was elected to the National Council of the American Scientific Affiliation in December 2012. When the Executive Director, Randy Isaac, suggested to me that there was work to do in the realm of women’s involvement in science, my reaction was "Really?” I knew the participation of women in ASA was relatively low (one of the main reasons I ran for Council), but across the science establishment in the U.S.? When I decided to major in chemistry at the University of Illinois in 1971, of course, there were few women students – and even fewer in the ranks of chemical engineering students – but today, in 2013, I was skeptical that gender issues in the sciences are still a problem.
Always having faith in my executive director, and being a scientist/analyst, I dug into the data for myself. And what did I find in the prestigious "Science Indicators” from the National Science Foundation? Proof that Randy was right. Along with this blog, we are posting on the ASA/CWIS website a set of slides that I prepared for our July 20 "launch” of ASA’s Christian Women in Science affiliate. You will see there the numbers that aroused my passion for reaching out to Christian women interested in science, and gave birth to CWIS.
Take a look yourself. Our sisters in Christ need support to pursue and stay engaged in science. Our sisters in science who are not Christians need to understand, at least, that Christians are not troglodytes when it comes to science. Our mission in CWIS is to encourage Christian women of all ages to pursue, sustain, and grow in a career in science,
technology, engineering or math, and to encourage women in these endeavors to pursue, sustain, and grow in the Christian faith. If you haven’t already, come join us!
Posted By Alice C. Linsley,
Thursday, September 12, 2013
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As a female engineering faculty member at a
Christian college, it is not been uncommon for female engineering students to
stop by my office and ask for advice. Several years ago an ambitious,
God-fearing Christian young woman presented me with the following question: how
will a career as an engineer in industry allow me to also spend time with my
The issue of how to balance professional work with a family life
is a hot button topic for female students. Interestingly, I have never had a
male student express this concern. I suspect many young guys have simply not thought
far enough ahead to consider issues of family/work balance. And I would not be
surprised if the majority of them were unconsciously assuming that their
eventual female spouse would be handling the kids and family management tasks
while they would be free to put as much time as necessary into their
engineering work. However, many young women are already conscious, even before
they have obtained their engineering degrees, of the need to manage their own
expectations for success in achieving their career goals and in fulfilling the
responsibilities of motherhood. Women are aware of the pressure to do it all.
They intuitively understand that they cannot let career take over at the
expense of raising godly kids, nor can they focus entirely on nurturing a family
at the expense of applying their gifts and talents in God’s service through
significant time devoted to a professional career, especially in a technical
My initial response to questions of this type is always the
same: It is not up to you as the wife
and mother to figure out how to balance work and family responsibilities. It is
up to you and your spouse together,
in a balanced partnership, to decide how parenting responsibilities will be
allocated in your family unit. Most careers in science, technology, engineering
and math (STEM) are demanding in terms of time and mental energy, but there are
many, many possible ways to arrange your life to perform Christian service on
the job as well as provide Christian discipleship for the children God entrusts
to us. There is no one right way to balance these tasks, either as a mom or a
dad. The solution for my family has been for my husband (also an engineer) to
work full time in industry, while I work part time (~70% of a regular faculty
load) in academia. When my kids were young, this meant three days of week of
daycare. For two of my colleagues, this has involved sharing of a single
academic position. With each spouse working 50% of a full time load, careful
scheduling of courses allows both to contribute equally to childcare. I have a
cousin who is a medical doctor. Her husband stays home full time to watch their
I will admit that I have not always found support for my
career aspirations in church or from Christian friends. I live in a conservative
community where the norm is for Christian men to be breadwinners and Christian
women to be stay-at-home moms. And arranging child care has personally been one
of the most stressful aspects of pursuing my career. There are no perfect
solutions. But the reward of knowing that God is using me in my work to reach
students and improve the flourishing of the world through technology is what
makes negotiating the tensions worth it.
So, whether you are just beginning to contemplate your
career and family goals, or are in the midst of the struggle to have it all as
a working mom, be sure to keep an open mind. What works for someone else may
not work for you. We need to keep from judging each other, allow and encourage
our husbands to participate in nurturing our shared offspring, and continually
seek God’s guidance through prayer in balancing the various vocations in which
God has called us to participate. In the words of Proverbs 16: 2-3:
"All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
but motives are
weighed by the Lord.
Commit to the Lord
whatever you do,
and he will establish
This post has not been tagged.
Posted By Alice C. Linsley,
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
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Alice C. Linsley
Today there are equal opportunities for women to receive the
education and training necessary to advance in the many fields of science. It has been claimed, however, that in the past women played a minimal role in Science
and the contribution of Christian women is even more minimal due to male
dominance in the Church. While science has certainly been
dominated by men, there is no doctrine or tradition in Christianity that
inhibits women from being involved in science. If men have dominated, it is
because in centuries past they were the ones who received the more advanced
It is also likely that the contributions of women in science and technology have been overlooked rather consistently by both secular historians and
Christian historians. If the historian is looking for inventions and
discoveries that bring about paradigm shifts, they will miss the
contributions of many women. For centuries, women were discovering the healing
properties of plants (pyto-medicine), experimenting in chemistry to create dyes
(biblical Lydia), and exploring methods for creating fibers and developing
textile technologies. They invented things like buttons and butter churns, but
these do not lead to paradigm shifts, only to an improved quality of life.
This segment of "Christian Women in Science, Technology and
Engineering” focuses on three women who left a mark in Science and who were
known to be women of faith: St. Hildegard, Maria Agnesi, and Mary Anning.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179) was a Benedictine abbess, writer,
composer, philosopher, polymath, and perhaps Germany's first female physician. She
conducted and comprehensive studies of the medicinal properties of herbs and
minerals, and wrote Physica, a
text on the natural sciences. She founded two monasteries; one at Rupertsberg in
1150 and the other at Eibingen in 1165.
Attention to women of the medieval Church has led
to interest in Hildegard, particularly her musical compositions which represent
one of the largest repertoires among medieval composers.
On 7 October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named her
a Doctor of the Church.
Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718
– 1799) was an Italian mathematician and philosopher. She is credited with writing the first book discussing both
differential and integral calculus and was an honorary member of the
faculty at the University
Maria was a child prodigy. She could speak
both Italian and French at five years of age. By her
thirteenth birthday she had acquired Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, German, and
Latin. When she was nine, she composed and delivered an hour-long speech in
Latin to some of the most distinguished intellectuals of the day.
She devoted the last four decades of her life to studying
theology, the writing of the Church Fathers, and to serving the poor.
Mary Anning (1799 – 1847) was a
British fossil collector and paleontologist who became known for
important finds she made in the Jurassic marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis in Dorset, where she lived. Her work contributed to
fundamental changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the
history of the Earth. Mary's work drew considerable attention in England as most people believed in a young Earth and regarded this to be a Biblical view.
Fossil collecting was a popular pastime in the late 18th and
early 19th century, but gradually developed into a science as the importance of
fossils to geology and biology became better understood. Anning searched
for fossils in the area's Blue Lias cliffs, particularly during the winter
months when landslides exposed new fossils that had to be collected quickly
before they were lost to the sea. It was dangerous work, and she nearly lost
her life in 1833 during a landslide.
In 2010, the Royal
Society included Anning in a list of the ten British women who have
most influenced the history of science.
Mary Anning, though raised Congregationalist, regularly
worshiped with her family in the Anglican Church.
Watch for Part II - More Christian Women in Science, Technology and Engineering.
Posted By Alice C. Linsley,
Thursday, August 22, 2013
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Arden A. Wells is a sophomore at the University
of Texas at Dallas. Her major is Geology and her minor is
Public Health. Arden attended the 2013 ASA
Conference in Nashville
and all who met her were impressed with her enthusiasm, cheerful spirit and
passion for science. Here she shares an uplifting account of service and faith.
by Arden A. Wells
Over spring break, I volunteered as a head counselor at a
camp for people with disabilities. I had worked for a weekend camp session, but
I had no idea how exhausting a full week of caring for eight teenage girls who
needed constant attention would be. Additionally, I came with a list of
the chemical compositions of over 100 minerals that I was determined to
memorize for an upcoming Rocks and Minerals exam.
One of the girls in my cabin, Sofia, communicated with smiles instead of
words and needed constant supervision because she didn’t like to participate in
the scheduled activities. The older counselors called her our "earth child”
because she loved to play in the dirt. Even though she needed a hand to
hold whenever she walked or slept, she never wanted to interact with another
The six other counselors in our cabin and I took half-day
shifts hanging out with Sofia.
morning” was one of the first warm days of the year, and she couldn’t wait to
be outside. After Sofia
finished her breakfast, she grabbed my hand, marched me around the campus, and
promptly sat down in the middle of the trail and dug her fingers into the dirt.
As soon as I knew that she wasn’t eating the dirt or going anywhere, I pulled
out my notes and began to study my mineral compositions.
Aegirine. Na Fe Si 2 O 6.
Ugh. Memorizing all of these will be impossible.
I looked at Sofia.
She was now tossing dirt up in the air.
Apatite. Ca 5 P O 4 times 3 F or CL or OH.
"Can’t I just Google this if I ever need this in real life?”
hands and clothes were now covered in dirt. And it was perfectly okay because
this is what camp is about, and I had never seen her smile so much.
I grabbed a twig and sat across from her. I began digging up
the softest dirt I could find and handing it to her. She looked me in the eyes
and laughed. Pretty soon, I was drawing in the soil with my fingers, marveling
at how small each grain was, and amazed that each tiny mineral had such an
organized atomic structure. I was playing in the dirt.
What was I thinking? Her I was staring at a piece of paper
when the real geology was right below my feet? I had to relearn how to play in
the dirt in order to reclaim my enthusiasm for geology. I needed to step back
from my frustration of not understanding everything, my drive to know instead
of to appreciate.
When children first learn about astronomy or biology, they
fill with wonder. Then somewhere in the course of their education many decide
that science is "boring.” The childlike wonder for the world dissipates. Study
of our universe becomes a list of seemingly pointless facts to memorize,
complex rules to follow, and attempts to solve problems to which we can’t
relate. When we walk away from childlike wonder, study of the vast expanding
universe shrinks to an hour in a classroom.
We do the same thing with Christianity. And Jesus calls us
out on it.
In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says "Truly I tell you, unless you
change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of
How can we experience God’s power and love without childish
wonder? We can memorize the Bible and still not listen to a word God has to
say. We can follow every rule but still lack enthusiasm over Jesus. We sit in
church for every Sunday, but as we tailgate the car ahead of us on the drive
home, we decide that the sermon really didn’t apply to our lives.
With both science and faith, we need to take time to step
back and marvel, to get excited about how beautiful they are. Bible study
sometimes feels like a task when it should be a privilege. I often feel
stressed out when I have to study for an exam, but in reality I am extremely
blessed that I have the opportunity to get a closer look at our planet.
In John 8, the Pharisees come to Jesus with a woman who has
committed adultery. They ask him if they should uphold the law and stone her.
Before responding, Jesus "writes on the ground with his finger.” There are many
different interpretations of what this passage means and speculations about
what he wrote.
Personally, I think that as our Lord quickly prayed for this
woman, He was playing in the dirt.
Posted By Alice C. Linsley,
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Updated: Sunday, August 18, 2013
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Alice C. Linsley
The CWIS logo was designed by seventeen year old Ian Miller, the son of Ruth Miller, a member of CWIS.
Ian is a senior in high school. He is taking two college classes each semester this year: Calculus 3, Differential Equations, Microcontrollers, and what the Computer Science Department calls Programming Fundamentals, the foundation course in computer programming.
He plans to pursue a degree in Computer Engineering at college next year. His first college choice is Olin, a new small private engineering college in Massachusetts.
Ian is fluent in Java, C and Objective C programming and is the author of 3 iPad apps: an RPN calculator, a spirograph generator, and a physics engine 'playground' called CreatR. The CWIS logo is credited to his new company name "pxlweavr.” He had called it "theCoffeeShop” back when most of his programming was in Java.
He enjoys creating logos, both volunteer and paid, and has built quite a few web page designs, including WAC.ece.ksu.edu, naps2013.org, and Sigma Xi Science Cafe websites for Cafes in Manhattan and Kansas City. He also designed, built, and programmed the data acquisition system for sustain.ece.ksu.edu/daq/data.php.
Ian also likes to play with hardware. This summer he built and programmed his own quadcopter, after making his parents a new stereo amplifier to replace an old and unreliable Sony.
CWIS thanks this talented young man for designing our logo, which is shown below.
Posted By Alice C. Linsley,
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
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Jennifer J. Wiseman is an astronomer and a Fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation. She holds a bachelor's degree in physics from MIT and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard. After research fellowships at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the Johns Hopkins University, she joined NASA in 2003.
Wiseman discovered periodic comet 114P/Wiseman-Skiff while working as a research assistant in 1987. She is chief of the ExoPlanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory in the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA Goddard Space.
Jennifer Wiseman's affection for astronomy began with late-night stargazing walks with her parents on their Arkansas farm. Today, Wiseman is an astrophysicist, public speaker, and one of the country's top leaders on science policy. Dr. Wiseman has written about how ASA members can help young scientists.
How You Can Help Young Christians in Science
Jennifer J. Wiseman
This longer edition of the "Young Scientists' Corner" is primarily intended for those who would like to know how to encourage the younger generation of Christians entering scientific vocations. These are exciting times for those of us entering careers in science as Christians. With relativism governing many philosophies in the humanities these days, the sciences remain (ideally) devoted to the pursuit of Truth, and consequently many young Christians are attracted to the sciences and are pursuing productive and creative careers. There is a level of openness and curiosity about Christian faith among young non-Christians in the sciences that stands in contrast to the antipathy between religion and science often assumed in decades past. We feel the excitement of opportunity to reach out to our scientific colleagues with the Light of the Gospel, to serve in science as our Christian calling, and to share the discoveries of God's creation with our fellow Church members. But we need encouragement and support.
There are ways that more experienced scientists and the ASA can help. Over the spring and summer of 1997, five graduate student and postdoctoral members1 of the ASA were invited to share ideas with each other, via an e-mail discussion group, on ways ASA members can help us to be fruitful, and ways young scientists can help the ASA. Our recommendations were presented as a report to the ASA. Highlights are summarized here under four main concerns: vocational direction, personal support, outreach to the Church and to the world, and young people and the ASA. A fifth section reviews suggestions for ways experienced ASA members can help us.
Choosing a Scientific Vocation in a Changing World
Science is inevitably directed largely by the motives of those providing the funding and support. Science funding often ends up directing what questions get asked, and what kind of "truth" is sought. As young scientists looking for stable job support, it will be almost impossible not to be swayed by money/job availability. The giant drivers of much of science research are profit-seeking corporations and military/ government concerns. While these directives have merit in their own right, the percentage of science funding from alternative organizations is possibly shrinking (e.g., the NSF, charities, nonprofit organizations, research branches of the government, etc.). Ethical issues are also growing in complexity. Young scientists are finding themselves working and grappling directly or indirectly with tough issues such as bioethics, cloning, human fetus research, animal experimentation and alternatives, and weapons research. Political and economic pressures are affecting the balance of "applied" versus "basic" research.
Young Christians in the sciences can no longer simply follow the conventional steps of a scientific career path without understanding the bigger picture of the directions and global implications of science and technology. We could benefit from the wisdom of more experienced ASA members in helping us to choose our career paths such that we can be most effective in molding the direction of research or teaching in our spheres of influence. We need to be made aware of the pros and cons of all sides of complex ethical issues. And we need to be educated and prepared if we are called upon to "speak out" about issues threatening the world today (e.g., sustaining growing populations, pollution, habitat destruction, spread of disease, etc.). If we enter teaching, we need to learn about creative methods that present the details and the history of science in ways that bless students and honor the Lord.
Young Christians need encouragement to see their calling as scientists as a valuable Christian vocation. Though there are painful exceptions, the work environment for most Christian students in science today is not hostile. In fact, there are many young Christians in training in the sciences. Christian fellowship groups for graduate students are beginning to form and flourish on many campuses, and a large percentage of these Christian graduate students and postdocs are scientists.
It is during these formative years that young scientists are faced with some weighty decisions. For example: What kind of thesis research should I pursue? My advisor has asked me to do fetal tissue experiments; should I refuse and risk my position in graduate school? (This really happened to one student.) How do I explain my faith to my advisor and my fellow graduate students? Wouldn't it be more valuable to God for me to join some of my Christian friends who are planning careers as evangelists or in direct ministry to the poor rather than to spend my life, for example, evaluating molecular spectra? Traditional Christian churches and circles do not always recognize the unique environment that the young Christian scientist faces. Science is sometimes viewed with misunderstanding and suspicion or ignored as unspiritual. These reactions are discouraging to young people who want to choose a career path that glorifies God. Hearing encouraging talks from older Christian scientists can be a great encouragement to younger people seeking guidance.
Personal issues also come into play as students and postdocs prepare for a lifetime career. How do single scientists find a circle of supportive, believing friends when they are no longer students? How does one balance family life with career calling? In past decades, most scientists with children were men in "one-career" families where their wives could help them by carrying much of the load of child-rearing and domestic support. Today, more women are entering scientific fields, and of these women scientists, those who marry often marry scientists. These partnerships can produce amazing opportunities for joint service in science. Yet this does often mean that now two adults are juggling two scientific careers, trying to be productive and publish, and seeking tenure during the years of raising young children. These young Christians want to be able to serve God faithfully as good scientists and also to be good, nurturing parents. They have questions: How can we be most supportive of our spouses as scientists and as parents? Should our career goals and expectations be lessened or dropped to allow for more time with our children? Or, if our scientific opportunities are truly God's calling, then how do we work out a cooperative balance of child care and research time with our spouse? Meeting Christian scientists who have trod these difficult paths is a great encouragement.
Christian women are serving in growing numbers as researchers, laboratory directors, and teachers in both Christian and secular universities and laboratories. These expanding opportunities to use scientific talents are encouraging. Yet there are sometimes few role models or little encouragement for science as a calling from traditional Christian circles. (A recent ASA-related conference for Christian women in science at Eastern College was attuned to this need.) Young scientists from traditionally under-represented ethnic groups can also feel a deep sense of loneliness and self-doubt. Having Christian "mentors" can help to continually revitalize our vision for science as a personal calling and ministry.
Outreach to the Church and to the World
"I think the most important outreach of the ASA is to nonbelieving scientists." This is a quote from one of the contributors to this report; we all feel that reaching out to our colleagues is an important desire we face in our everyday lives. We work side-by-side with colleagues and friends from many different countries and religious backgrounds. We want them to know the Lord, but we recognize that some popular methods of sharing the Gospel are not appropriate or helpful for our scientific friends. Many times our friends in science have heard Christian viewpoints through the media that give the impression that Christians are ignorant about science or that they reject what seems clear from scientific research. Naturalistic philosophy and scientism are also at work in the worldviews of some. We would find it helpful to learn ways our more experienced Christian colleagues have reached out to their scientific peers. Clear materials, which would introduce our friends to the Christian faith while embracing modern scientific discoveries, are needed.
We are also challenged by the need to reach out to our Christian friends. Churches and Christian schools are sometimes heavily influenced by the perception that Christianity and scientific processes (e.g., Big Bang cosmology, evolution, etc.) cannot mix, and that Christians must always have a "defensive" stance toward science. This is tragic because our Christian friends can miss out on rejoicing in some of the wonderful discoveries about our universe that reveal God's glory and creativity. And Christian children can be discouraged from considering scientific careers. Many of us enjoy going into schools and churches and offering presentations and classes relating faith and science. Diligent observations of God's creation and the faithful presentation of our discoveries should draw people to the Lord in a powerful way. We would benefit from having materials to present in these settings as well as examples of how to find and use such opportunities to the fullest.
"Outreach" can also be viewed in the prophetic sense and can include speaking out about environmental destruction and the misuse of technology. Another part of "outreach" is to share the wonders and the benefits of scientific knowledge and opportunity with the poor and others who might otherwise be left out. It helps us to hear of ways to join in such efforts.
Young People and the ASA
Young scientists must join the ASA and remain in it if it is to continue to thrive. We believe the ASA can be a great help to young scientists, and we are glad and honored to know that the ASA is seeking to serve younger scientists in new ways. One result of this concern is the appearance of this "Young Scientists' Corner" in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith - very nice! We hope, also, that more people will write articles for PSCF from experience about the "nuts-and-bolts" of being a Christian researcher or science teacher, such as papers about discerning God's will for a career, sharing faith with scientific colleagues, running a laboratory, surviving the tenure track, and maintaining family and professional balance.
Many of our young colleagues have simply not heard about the ASA. But a great way to get the word out is for ASA members or local sections to provide literature, books, and speakers to campus graduate school Christian fellowship groups and campus-related churches. This is an effective way to establish relationships with young scientists, who seem to be joining graduate fellowships in larger numbers than ever before. There are also regional and national conferences now for Christian graduate students, and having an ASA presence at these meetings is crucial to encouraging students and advertising the ASA.
One student commented that visiting local ASA section meetings can be a bit intimidating because of the stark age and career differences between most of the attendees and the few students attending. Perhaps occasional meetings could be arranged with special efforts to invite students from the area.
Even secular scientific conferences can provide opportunities for Christian fellowship. I am a postdoctoral astronomer. Over the past two years, Christian astronomers, including students, postdocs, and faculty, have gathered informally for lunch during the annual national professional astronomy conference to meet new friends and discuss being Christians in astronomy (and we introduce these new friends to the ASA, too).
What Can You Do to Help?
How can you help young Christians considering a calling to serve as scientists? Many of you have gone before us living lives of faithful obedience to the Lord in your scientific careers. Here are some ways the ASA or individual Christian scientists can help us "carry the torch":
- Be a "mentor" to young Christians in the sciences. ASA scientists can visit local university chapters of Christian fellowship groups and meet the graduate and undergraduate students considering scientific careers.
- Help your new friends "one-on-one" to make wise decisions. It's unlikely that students will have the time or courage to seek out mentors on their own, but meeting Christian scientists who come to a friendly setting, such as a church or campus fellowship meeting, is a wonderful encouragement for students and a good way to start friendships.
- Help establish a network between ASA and related organizations like InterVarsity and science fellowships in other countries so that we can share resources (e.g., speakers, books, and conferences).
- Seek to be aware of current directions of science and career paths for young people, including the larger funding and ethical issues.
- Explain the differences between a career of teaching and one primarily of research.
- Show us how to have a healthy family life while keeping up with publishing pressures.
- Equip us to start our own discussion groups on campuses or in churches.
- Provide us with examples of courageous people who have made difficult decisions or statements involving science ethics and goals.
- Keep advertising job opportunities.
- Educate us about even "nontraditional" career and ministry options that might be our most effective service to the world.
- Help us to become aware of and to connect with groups serving the poor in various ways, such as teaching in the inner city, encouraging people to join in the scientific endeavor who have historically been left out, and improving living conditions in developing countries.
- Continue to provide materials we can use for outreach to our non-Christian colleagues and to the Church.
- Write articles for PSCF that discuss the "how-to" of being Christians in science.
This is a long "wish-list"! We are grateful that many of you are already striving to do many of these things. Perhaps the most important request is for fervent prayer that God would keep us all, young and old, tightly bound to the Vine, our Savior, the Lord who created the universe we study. May he raise up good scientific stewards who serve with love, and may he be praised and glorified by our service.
1The contributors to this discussion and report include: Eric Arnoys, Michael Everest, Steven Hall, Johnny Lin, Liskin Swint-Kruse, and Jennifer Wiseman.