The Risks and Fears of Going Public

Continuing the discussion from James Tour: Friendship Across Disagreements:

Thanks @Jeffb. I was sharing very personally at that moment.

I appreciate the response of both you, @thoughtful, and James Tour. Some of the exchanges with secular scientists about it have also been valuable.

I’m working on another article now, explaining why I went public about the de novo creation of Adam and Eve at a vulnerable moment in my career, back in 2017. That was risking in a different way, one that put me more at risk with my secular colleagues, and ultimately broke my ties with evolutionary creation.

That’s a good question. I am curious what the Christian scientists at secular institutions might say (e.g. @dga471 and @Zachary_Ardern and @Paul.B.Rimmer).


You’re welcome!
BTW, you’ll have to forgive me, when I first heard about you I thought you were yet another TE, frustratingly fighting against biblical creation when you could be supporting it (especially with your credentials). But with further exposure to you, I saw you were different.

But what really stood out was reading about your testimony; about your declaration of faith in the Resurrection of Christ! That’s significant! That’s more than just “and I’m a Christian”.

I couldn’t help but think of the recent debate between you and Behe, one of my “ID-Hero’s”. I think back now and can’t help but notice that in all the books and videos of his I’ve seen, I’ve never heard Behe make such a vocal declaration of belief in the Resurrection. But, perhaps he has and I just missed it.

Anyway, yes, I’m glad to have had been able to get to know you better. You have my prayers and support. I know there are more like you still being quite.


Would you explain more what you saw that was different?

When I first met Behe in 1998, he would not publicly acknowledge he was a Catholic. Later, he explained that he thought that identifying as a Christian would prevent other scientists from taking his scientific arguments seriously. So it was a very intentional strategy to focus on IC, while avoiding any discussion of religious topics.

In more recent years, he has more readily talked about “God.” I am sure that he personally affirms the bodily Resurrection, but that is not his public confession.

That is a reality I struggled with for many years. In a lot of ways, part of what was enticing about ID is that it did not include a personal confession of the Resurrection. If there was a way to avoid that confession, it seems, I should take it. Perhaps people really did need some sort of “pre-evangelism” of ID in order to receive the Gospel…so I reasoned…and that was safer.

But that is not what Scripture teaches. We are supposed to be truthful witnesses of what we have seen of Jesus. In some ways confessing Jesus rose from the dead is harder.

But I also found that it is easier too. It is not worth getting kicked out of science because of ID; that seems clear even to IDers, who often complain about it with some bitterness. I was not kicked out because of the Gospel, but that would be worth it in the end. Though it was risky, it seems much more to be worth the risk.

Thank you. It has been good getting to know you…

Yes, but at PS more are opening up. If that is the voice you care about, consider supporting us. I’m not sure any another group out that is encouraging Christians in science to come forward.


I suppose it was few things: Hearing that you didn’t fully adhere to TE. The fact that you created the website “PeacefulScience”, and your heart behind it. I suppose I saw you less of an ‘opponent’ like we do with other TEs. I believe it does place you a little more in the middle.
And I see you as more of a free-thinker. As the evidence against evolution continually comes (which it will), one who is more likely to be inclined to ‘follow the evidence to where it leads’.

Awesome attitude.

Certainly will!
And I know the creationist groups I follow are trying to encourage others to. I’ve noticed more comments from DI folks about reaching a ‘tipping point’ where as more start to speak up, it frees up several others.
I truly believe this, and say this to your credit: For each one person like you who speaks up, some number of others will follow. To others I would say: Your one voice could free up 3 others.


I’ve had similar thoughts. :slightly_smiling_face:


I am hoping that you will include the reactions you got from your peers at WUSTL and elsewhere. I suspect I will be encouraged and disappointed all at the same time. Like all other groups of humans, the sciences have a spectrum of personalities, some good and some not so good.


It seems you’ve had some bad experiences in the past. What is it regarding biblical creation that you believe a typical TE fights against?

More along the OP, I was at the beginning point of moving my personal philosophy from YEC to TE during the first few years of graduate school. My PI was fully supportive of my Christianity, although he was not a believer himself, and I had several good conversations with labmates and classmates. I have been at my Baptist university for 17+ years, and I obviously have no job risk here. My experience in a secular environment may well have been different, but I’ve experienced nothing but mild curiosity from secular colleagues.


It’s funny because I’m more or less on the opposite side of the coin, which is why I stay relatively anonymous. I was raised creationist, but I stopped believing that a while ago and later deconverted from Christianity. My family knows about my belief in evolution, but I’m in the closet about my atheism. Ironically, I justify majoring in Evolutionary Biology by saying it’s basically the same as the Genetics and Computational Biology track with less requirements, which is true, but I’m mostly just interested in evolution. I’ve had some interesting conversations with my grandparents about it though haha


Good question. I honestly was a little uncomfortably typing out “TE fighting against biblical creation”. Wording like this seems so oppositional, like kids fighting against themselves. So I’m glad you asked so I could expound a bit more (BTW, no, not “bad experiences in the past”).

I wrote more but decided to cut this short. After all I’d like to keep this discussion on track.

Ultimately I get frustrated at seeing a group who isn’t just providing reasons for their view, they publish reasons to NOT believe in biblical creation. Rather than being allies, they’re at times hindering. And personally, to get back to this topic (and hopefully not create more sub-threads), I believe a significant reason for belief in TE is coming directly from this career pressure.

That would mean there are thousands and thousands of Christian scientists who could disprove evolution in a heartbeat, but don’t follow through because they feel pressured. That just doesn’t jive with what I have heard from Christian scientists. Instead, it is the evidence they discovered during their education and training that convinced them that evolution was true. There’s a great example of exactly that in the thread below, especially post #6 by @swamidass:

Added in edit:

Another good example is Mary Schweitzer, who is famous for finding soft tissue in dinosaur fossils:


What are you basing this on? I hope you have solid evidence to support such a pessimistic and denigrating attitude toward Christians that accept TE. I don’t say this argumentatively, I was just surprised to read this since what you’ve written previously seemed a refreshing shift from the frequent YEC condemnation. Personally, not a soul tried to convince me and I never experienced anything remotely close to career pressure. What compelled me to move away from YEC to TE was evidence. I didn’t even set out to research this issue, just the reading and learning required for PhD work introduced me to an abundance of evidence.


@cwhenderson, I think that YEC/ID observe animosity directed against the public proponents of ID/YEC, and plausibly think this extends into a thought policing sort of persecution of dissenters in science. The reality is more like this:

Most people just never ask you what you personally believe. If you are quiet about them, and are not spreading them around in public, then people just don’t care. Science just doesn’t care what you personally believe.

Most people don’t know this.


Scientists don’t care if other scientists question evolution as an origins theory? Or they wouldn’t know to care if the person didn’t bring it up?

And if the person mentions he or she is a Christian, would it not be asked?

Scientists as a rule don’t care about other scientists’ personal religious beliefs. It only becomes an issue when a religious scientist starts publicly misrepresenting the scientific work others have done to push those religious beliefs.


Well I do apologize if that came off as denigrating. It wasn’t intended to.
This whole post was to gain insight into the lives of those who live in this struggle: Christians in a scientific career field.

To me, it seems more like a logical conclusion. I see SO much evidence against evolution, I seriously ponder why some accept TE. I can’t help but believe that that pressure has an influence.

As for evidence: I’m not sure if this is what you mean, but I have collected many quotes over the years of scientists expressing pressure in their career field.

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What you mean is you see ID-Creationist websites offering what they claim is evidence against evolution. Claims which you don’t have the scientific knowledge to properly evaluate and which can’t withstand even the slightest bit of scientific scrutiny.

There are plenty of scientifically educated people here, myself included, who are more than willing to explain in detail what the actual science says. Are you open to friendly listening and learning?

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A few more replies I suppose. I should have put all these together.

Well, full disclosure, I’m a bit of a mix: I’m generally a rather compassionate person. At the same time, I definitely have those same feelings of frustration towards TE, and that frustration just might slip out from time to time (no guarantees). I really have to bite my tongue if I have have to mention one TE organization in particular.

I’m glad to hear you had that freedom.
I have a feeling there’s a mix of responses.

BTW, what year was that?

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I’ve certainly never experienced any pressure in my career about being a Christian. I can easily believe that I would face pressure in my current line of work (genetics) if I rejected common descent. But that’s because I’d have to be insane to reject it, given the reality of the data we work with.

I find this odd. I’ve been interacting with creationists for decades and I’ve yet to see them present any of this evidence against evolution – or for creation. Perhaps we have different notions of what constitutes evidence.


I’m sure there is a mix. But I am also rather confident that the personal stories you are reading are quite typical and not exceptions.

Ha! The year… the year… Hmmmm… This would probably go back to the mid 1990s. I think I read something of yours that gave me the impression we were close to the same age.

In any group of people there are going to be jerks. The sciences are no different.

I have worked with undergrad summer interns in the lab for many years now. Some of them are from religious schools, and some have even voiced their skepticism of evolution outside of lab time. All of them have been wonderful people and wonderful students, and I am quite confident that they would report having a good experience in the internship program. Overall, the religious beliefs of scientists really isn’t an issue. In 99% of cases it matters as much as their choice in sports teams (in a professional sense).