Experiences of Christian Scientists in Churches and Labs

I don’t want to hijack your thread and you may want to start a separate thread for this discussion, but I would be interested to hear about the experiences scientists have had in the church. I have faced much more hostility from Christians to the idea of my being a scientist than I ever faced from scientists about my being a Christian. Maybe it’s because I travel in Evangelical circles and maybe I was just blessed to find myself in a lab that was cool with religion, but that’s been my experience.

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@stlyankeefan I would echo your sentiments. It was always easier for me to be a Christian in a research lab than to be a scientist in a church. I cringe at times at the way science is portrayed as anti-God and if a pastor is wanting to talk about “persecution of a biblical worldview” it seems like a science professor is often the representative. Even on a personal level, the most common question I get at church when I say what I do is something along the lines of “isn’t it great how science proves the Bible and God?” That is, of course, after they say “chemistry?! I hated chemistry in high school” :slight_smile:

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I’m sorry you’ve shared this experience. I’ve been called a heretic, I’ve been told I “deny the authority of the Bible” because I’m not a Young Earth Creationist, I’ve been asked if the university administration knows about my beliefs (they do, I was upfront about it in my interview). I’ve come to expect students to question my salvation on my course evaluations. The vast majority of my students seem relieved to hear that there are options for believing Christians besides YEC, though some prefer to have closed door discussions with me because they are afraid to express their questions about YEC publicly. I really want to be a voice in the church, but it’s not easy.

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Blockquote the most common question I at church when I say what I do is something along the lines of “isn’t it great how science proves the Bible and God?” That is, of course, after they say “chemistry?!

I get that too. People come up to me and say "I’m so happy we have a Christian teaching science so students will learn THE TRUTH about evolution. Yes they will. BTW, I hated Chemistry in high school, but I ended up a double major Biology/Chemistry in college and now I teach Chemistry. My high school chemistry teacher laughed when he heard that.

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2 posts were split to a new topic: One Example of Engaging Parents of YECs

Haven’t worked in any labs that were hostile to Christians, or for that matter, most other religions.

Making YEC arguments in scientific settings would certainly draw some flack, but not because of hostility to Christianity. It was more like Peter Duesberg catching flack for claiming HIV had no causal role in AIDS or the response to a flat earther.

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Back when I was a Christian, I never ran into any problems. But that was in a different country (Australia) and a different era (back when YEC was not so common).

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We were members of a Southern Baptist church for over a dozen years, where I generally knew to keep my mouth shut. One of the church members had a 4-week event creation and the ark, which I decided not to attend. Due to some unrelated circumstances, we have been attending a non-denominational church (Southern Baptist with a cooler website, as the joke goes) for a couple of year with a much different view. The pastor once preached on God’s Love for us and I was rather shocked to hear him say that God has been loving us for billions of years before we were born. He also asked me to meet with and and we had a conversation for over an hour about what I felt the strongest evidences were for evolution. He was more of an ID proponent, and although he had many questions, he did not argue a bit of the science with me. Although evangelical churches are certainly resistant to evidence for an ancient earth and ancient life, I have experienced some weakening in that resistance.

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I would have replied to this thread earlier but my spring break turned out to be far busier than weeks when I have to teach.

I have also found that the greatest hostility comes from the church not from fellow scientists. In grad school my lab was made up of a few different faiths (Jewish, Mormon, Christian, and if not atheists then at least non-religious people). However, there wasn’t any judgement or persecution of one another based on this. As long as everyone was doing science we were all good. I go to a fairly conservative church though, and my family is all still YEC. This has definitely led to some conflict. My pastors know where I stand, in fact one of them has asked me to have repeated conversations to discuss the topics of creation and evolution. But whenever anyone in the church finds out I teach biology the first thing out of their mouths is “Well you don’t have to teach evolution do you?” To which I reply “No I get to.” They usually then ask how I can possibly be a christian and believe in evolution. I tell them that I don’t believe in evolution, I accept the evidence for evolution, I believe in God. From this I’ve had some really great conversations with people, I’ve also been shunned by others. My wife and I had to leave a small group because of one member of the group who would not let the issue go and insisted on arguing despite my attempts to avoid the subject because it wasn’t the appropriate setting.

In the classroom, things have been different. I teach an evolution course at a Christian university so it’s expected that we will deal with the intersection of evolution and faith. Most of my students respond well and several have told me how much they appreciate the opportunity to discuss the topics and try to reconcile their faith with science. @Jordan and I led a chapel small group last semester on science and faith and had a great turnout and some really excellent discussions with students. They mostly seem eager to learn, they just don’t have the experience because many of them have been so sheltered.

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