Monday, February 11, 2019

I get email

Like most of us, I ride an endless spiritual roller coaster, and at the moment I’m at the nadir of the current go-round. Which brings us to yesterday, when I received an email concerning this blog. Now most of the blog-related emails I get are negative— typically from my fellow believers "graciously" accusing me of the heresy of letting science trump scripture. But this one... this was nothing short of providential.

Here it is (with permission) and some privacy-preserving redactions:
Hi David, 
I just wanted to message you and let you know that I really appreciate your blog and am glad that your retirement plans were premature. 1 I am a [REDACTED] graduate student in physics/astronomy at UC Berkeley and a member of a local reformed church, so I particularly value the unique perspective you bring to the table. I first started reading your blog something like 7 years ago when I stumbled across it as a wanna-be Christian poking around on the internet to see if believing physicists were even a thing. To me, your writing was a revelation and almost instantly encouraged me; at the time the Christians I was surrounded by were the sort who poo-pooed science, accepted most things at face value, called God "Daddy," and consistently made extraordinary claims regarding healing or personal revelation. It really turned me off from the church for a while but reading things written by people like you gave me hope that there were other analytically minded believers out there. Eventually, after a (true) friend would not stop pestering me about how I needed to find a church, I stumbled upon a local orthodox Presbyterian congregation and I have not looked back. 
Anyway, I recently re-discovered your blog and appreciate it even more now that I know a little more doctrine/theology. Each Sunday evening I enjoy catching up on your posts. Keep up the good work! I am sure there are many others out there like me who read but never comment. [REDACTED] 
Thank you so much for this email.

Well, the writer (and my new friend) has possibly discovered by now that when it comes to academic departments, the least antagonistic towards believers is (at least in my anecdotal experience) physics. For real vitriol you need to look toward the humanities. I’m not alone in this assessment. In his book The Creator and the Cosmos, Christian astronomer Hugh Ross quotes one of my professors, Heineman prize winner Robert Griffiths:
 If we need an atheist for a debate, I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn’t much use. 
Yes that’s hyperbole—but only slightly so.

You probably noticed that the writer of my recent email is a Christian graduate student at Berkeley. There is another name for that: foreign missionary.

1 I pulled a Brett Favre.


  1. Whoever this is speaks for many of us who read your blog, no doubt.

  2. Static Mesh Refinement2:33 AM

    I actually consider it a blessing to live in Berkeley, though perhaps that is just the weather talking! Being surrounded by ideologies that are so opposed to exclusivity and often even objective reality drives me all the more to the solid truth revealed by God. Plus some of the stuff people are pushing gets so riduculous it is actually funny. Like hosting talks titled "Does monogamy have a future?," bumper stickers demanding "equal rights for all species," or a person holding up a sign saying "increase black women." Still not sure what that last one means...

    Most of the time I feel less like a foreign missionary and more like Naaman the Syrian. It's not that I actively try to hide my faith but only a few people even know I am a Christian because it never really comes up in the day to day conversations (like it might in a philosophy department). Still trying to learn the right balance between testifying to the gospel without being obnoxious about it and/or interfering with what they are paying me to do.