Advice for a Christian aspiring scientist

So as a student of science, it makes much sense to ask questions such as the following: Recently, I got a letter asking about this sort of questions. The excerpts below (in italics) are quoted with permission.


There are two things that have been weighing on my mind lately. The first is the estimation of my own ability as a scientist. I know am quite capable, but I also fear that I overestimate my abilities. It's hard to judge because my school is not known for science, and none of my classmates share my passion for the fundamental mathematical theories of physics. I am deeply afraid of expecting too much from my career in science - I am fascinated by the mathematical ideas at the forefront of theoretical physics (and have enjoyed reading about these topics outside of classes), but I frankly don't know if I can expect to actually become a professional in a field like that. At the same time, I don't want to put myself down unnecessarily. How can I get an accurate perspective on my place in the scientific community?


Jesus asks us not to worry (Matthew 6:25-33). He just expects us to do our part of the effort and to trust that God will do what is needed so that we can reap the fruits of our work (Mark 4:26-29). Thus as long as you easily master the material required for your courses, there is no need to worry. Do well what is required, and widen and deepen your horizon by additional reading in all areas you find interesting. God will do the remainder to put you on your mission in life, whatever it will turn out to be.

But when you hardly manage to cope with meeting the requirements, you'll need sound judgment - to realize whether it is a sign of a special challenge through which you should gain patience and strength, or whether it is a sign that God wants you to open your eyes to a change in His plans for you. Then deepen your contacts with God so that you will not misunderstand him.


I also am very confused as to what perspective I should adopt on the origins/creation/Genesis debate. I know as a Christian scientist I should be expected to have a well thought-out opinion in those areas, but to be honest I have no idea what is right or wrong. I even question whether I can know the truth in these areas, given current knowledge. I also am very afraid of being wrong and having an opinion that misrepresents Christianity. What advice do you have for working out perspectives on the whole origins debate?


Opinions differ, so the guiding rule is that of the apostle Paul in Romans 14:4-5: Get your own stand that you can defend in the eyes of God, but don't judge those who take a different stand. I wrote elsewhere about some aspects of this:

These essays might be a help to find out your own position - the one you can stand on with a good conscience when our Lord asks you on the last day.


In general, remain free of worry: God's people are assured by Jesus that they will hear his voice and follow him (John 10:27), and Paul reminds us that for those who love God, every thing will turn out to their best (Romans 8:28). Our Lord will guide you even though you yourself may be unsure. Trusting that he does so gives peace, even in the most rough times.

And if you need advice, ask - whomever you think may have a competent answer. God owns everything and everyone, so do we, his children. As his children we are free to use the resources of our Father in Heaven, as long as we are using them with responsibility (that's what the phrase ''in His name'' means: as God himself would make use of them).

Ask, and you will be given (Matthew 7:7-8). With the right attitude, you will even get more than you had asked for (Luke 6:38). Just as the writer of the letter quoted, who wrote in a subsequent letter:

Your perspectives have helped me with both of my questions. It was chance that I found your page and chance that I decided to e-mail you, but after reading your articles I might like to say that rather God was at work.

Maybe that you dare to ask and listen will become a gift to the person you ask, or to others that you do not even think of. (Remember that on judgment day, the saved ones were commended by Jesus for things they didn't even know they had been doing, Matthew 25:37-39.) Just as that letter became the seed by which the present page came into existence, benefitting me, the writer and you, the reader.

''Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.'' (Matthew 7:7-8)

''Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.'' (Luke 6:38)



Gedanken zum Leben als Christ
My Views on the Christian Way of Life
Science and Faith
On Christianity
my home page (http://www.mat.univie.ac.at/~neum)

Arnold Neumaier (Arnold.Neumaier@univie.ac.at)