Throughout my life, faith and science have always seemed to go hand in hand. Growing up in a small, west Texas town, all of my science teachers also taught Sunday school. My first exposure to science was in Vacation Bible School. The 5-year-old class planted pinto beans in rocks, sand, and potting soil while our teacher read us the Parable of the Sower. This continued in junior high when Noah and his ark were integrated into a study of the visible spectrum. To this day whenever I see ROY G BIV, I remember God keeps His promises.
In high school, my chemistry teacher wrote Lamentations 3:22-23 atop every test. He sang 2 Timothy 1:12 as he returned the graded tests. I was exposed to those verses every week for two years. Needless to say, I memorized them very quickly. While I did not fully understand my teacher’s choice in biblical inspiration, I have found peace and comfort from those verses throughout my adult life. I have applied them more than I have the theory of relativity.
My journey continued into college. The Math and Sciences Department motto, “God made it, we study it,” was clearly displayed in every hallway in the science building. On my first day of calculus, my professor explained her love for math deeply aligned with her faith. Her signature phrase was, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, just as two plus two always equals four.” Hebrews 13:8 was the first line of her syllabus.
In my four years as an undergraduate, I realized each professor in the Math and Sciences Department chose their particular discipline because it brought them closer to God. I found that same passion in biochemistry.
I really enjoyed biochemistry (the study of chemistry in biological systems at the molecular level) because of a lecture on laminin in my Faith and Science class. Laminin is a protein that provides support for cells inside organs. It is one of the many proteins that adhere cells to connective tissue, which keeps cells in place. Congenital muscular dystrophy can be a result of a defect in laminin. The structure of laminin closely resembles a cross and the study of this protein reminds me in Christ all things are held together.
In graduate school, I studied how DNA can bind to proteins on the outside of a cell. DNA is comprised of four different nucleotides connected in different patterns. Over the course of hours of biochemical research, I found most double-stranded DNA structures would not bind to bacteria cells. However, I did learn one double-stranded DNA structure could adhere to the outside of a bacterial cell. During the long hours of research, I often thought of how amazing it is that all DNA is made of four molecules invisible to the human eye. I also got a lot of practice learning a few of the fruits of the spirit, notably patience and self-control!
God is the greatest Scientist of all. I believe having a “God made it, we study it" mentality is at the heart of scientific discovery. Many scientific findings represent the assimilation of facts already in existence. Have your kids ever asked you, “Why is the sky blue?” The sky is blue because of Rayleigh Scattering, which is defined as the scattering of light and other electromagnetic radiation by particles much smaller than the wavelength of radiation. John William Strutt did not make the sky blue, he discovered the phenomena already in existence.
Can you be a career scientist and a Christian? Of course! Any science background, ranging from environmental science to physics, provides practice in analytical thinking and problem-solving. There are many options. I have held jobs in private sector environmental labs, academic labs, government labs, pharmaceutical labs, and in the regulatory industry. Many people may think science and Christianity cannot coexist, but I can tell you they do. I see it every day.