In which we discuss dinosaurs and the age of the world and pursuing science as a Christian student.
Shawn made the following criticism in the comments to the “Six Days” post:
Below the slideshow you asked for corrections. I can’t speak to the astrophysics parts, but I can concerning two standpoints — that of theology, and that of fossil evidence, particular in reference to humans, but also in reference to even dinosaurs, which have been found containing soft tissue, something that seems strange, but plausible for a world of only 6-10K years, but absolutely forbidden for a world millions, even billions, or trillions of years old.
This strikes me as an odd observation. Taking the soft tissue evidence at face value, why couldn’t we simply have young dinosaurs in a very old world? It might be a bit awkward, but there is nothing in either science or scripture I’m aware of that “absolutely forbids” this.
In any case, it turns out that the soft tissue evidence is not necessarily a problem for old dinosaurs. It’s quite possible what we’re discovering is that scientists don’t understand decay like they thought they did. Evidence is mounting that, under certain conditions, soft tissue can be preserved during fossilization for millions of years. Nor is it a problem for Christianity, given that I believe scripture [together with a basic understanding of cosmology -Ed.] strongly implies an old universe/old Earth, anyway. Also, for you conspiracists out there, consider that the scientist who made the discovery, Mary Schweitzer, identifies as a committed Christian.
I’ve wanted to change my major to astronomy, but I feel it will be a hard major to be in as a Christian. As an astronomer, do you feel that people are trying to convert you? Or do they respect your beliefs and work with you just the same? And is becoming an astronomer as cool as it seems?
I became a Christian halfway through my graduate studies in astrophysics, and did not find it difficult at all. Nobody in my department gave me any trouble for my beliefs. A few of the faculty and grad students were also Christian, which helped. However, I can foresee a problem being a young-earth creationist Christian and trying to major in astronomy, since so much of the subject matter reveals a very old age for the universe. But if you are not a young-earther, that’s not a concern.
Now, that said, if you are passionate about astronomy, you should not let the fact that you are Christian deter you. Science needs Christians. And we know from scripture and history that we will face many challenges and obstacles just for being followers of Jesus Christ. Since that’s inevitable, just do what you feel you are called to do, and ignore those who would give you any trouble.
And, yes, becoming an astronomer is wonderful. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Do keep in mind, though, that being a scientist is sometimes tedious, but that probably describes just about any job.