Over the past couple years, there has been an elephant sitting in the room of public media discourse. Various opinion leaders have directly or indirectly assailed Republicans as “anti-science” but much of that is intertwined with the Left’s displeasure of the Christian faith. Well, to be specific, it is the more conservative flavor of Evangelicals or mainstream Christians. It is an odd love-hate relationship since the numbers cannot be ignored (i.e. 25.4% are Evangelical Protestants and 71% of the U.S. describe themselves as “Christian” in a 2015 Pew Research Study) where so many politicians from both the Left and the Right say they are of the Christian faith but have rarely step into a church beyond Christmas and Easter. I believe this strong notion that mainstream Christians have an aversion to science by the political Left is simply nonsense and chatter in their own echo chambers that often leaks into their public statements and media pieces.
I have lived in three major metro areas and attended three major mainstream churches, which are some of the largest churches in the U.S.: Willow Creek in the Chicago suburbs, Redeemer in NYC and Menlo Church in the Bay Area. Since I keep in touch with many of my friends at these churches, I would say at least anecdotally I could provide a fair assessment of mainstream Christians in our country today.
As a definition, mainstream Christians who attend these churches do believe the Bible is God’s word and its literal translation. These Biblical beliefs have been often tied to other assumed intolerant, monolithic viewpoints which simply are not true. For example, most if not all mainstream Christians that I know do not hate or fear Muslims. We do not fear any other religion, which is similar to reasons why the founding fathers that were Christian thought it was vital to our republic to have a separation of church and state and the critical importance of freedom of speech and religion.
Also every Christian that I know do not hate gays and lesbians. The media loves to focus on some obscure groups in Middle Earth or wherever, but this is not what mainstream Christians believe or feel. All sins are like blades of grass to God. If God kept a record of sins, my own record would outweigh those of many homosexual men or women, so lucky for me that he doesn’t.
Before I unwrap why faith in God doesn’t equal enmity against science, I would lastly state that a vast majority of mainstream Christians are not young earth creationists. Most that I know believe the earth to be 4.5 billion years and the universe approximately 14 billion. I would not be surprised if the universe was discovered to be older by hundreds of billions of years and our earth was billions of years older. More importantly, these issues would have no affect on my faith.
French biophysicists and Christian, Pierre Lecompte du Nouy, calculated the probability for a single molecule of high dissymmetry to be formed by chance in nature. Pierre discovered that the necessary time worked out to be 10²⁵³ years, or trillions and trillions of years, which is one reason he became a Christian. And this is for just one molecule, so imagine the probability for a simple organism to be randomly created. This provides some rationale for God’s hand in creation and for the possibility that the world is far older than what today’s science tells us.
Maybe it is for similar reasons why many chemists and physicists become Christians during their life-long research into the origins and building blocks of our universe? James Tour, a synthetic organic chemist at Rice University, say science draws people closer to God. Tour is not a lightweight either. He’s had too many accolades to count, such as “Scientist of the Year” by R&D Magazine (2013) and “The 50 most Influential Scientists in the World Today” (2014).
It is amusing to see the Left work to characterize people who are “conservative Christians,” or mainstream Christians, in a certain way but become flustered when a person doesn’t fit their idealized profile. Let’s be honest on what most of these pundits and people imagine. It’s usually a “farmer in Nebraska” or a “small shop owner in Indiana.” It reminds me when my close friend’s father, Younggil Kim, was approached by the late evolutionary biologist, Stephen Jay Gould. Younggil was the leading materials scientist in South Korea and winner of the King Sejong Award that recognizes the top scientist in South Korea, which is second in global patent activity and first in being most innovative nation by Bloomberg’s recent report. He also happened to be one of Korea’s leading creationists. When Stephen Jay Gould met Younggil Kim, he couldn’t comprehend these two identities being congruent so Gould had to dismissed one of them and smugly told him, “You are not a real scientist.” It’s amusing to me that someone from one of the soft sciences tells a person whose alloys were in Motorola’s semiconductor chips that he wasn’t a “real scientist.”
While I personally didn’t need other people to help formulate my conclusions on the Christian faith and became one after some quiet research and pondering alone, I think it could be helpful to some who don’t exactly understand who are Christians today in America. Just within my small world, you have executives from companies such as Google, Apple and Intel, managing directors from Goldman Sachs, hedge fund quant jocks from the top firms, and top engineers from Facebook to faculty members at Stanford University. Historical science icons such as NASA’s Wernher von Braun, who led build for the Saturn V which was the superbooster that propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon, was a mainstream Christian that would be very difficult to label as “anti-science.” Any of these people would be extremely difficult to label “anti-science” simply because they have faith in God and believe in the entirety of the Bible.
Actually, accepting the logic and any contradiction to science is the least of these peoples’ concerns who are seeking to change our culture, our world or simple get through their day. I’ll assume Wernher von Braun and many of these people that I know as friends or acquaintances had one similar difficulty in accepting and practicing the Christian faith. It is the idea of submission to God not the idea that faith in the Bible contradicts science or their daily work as a physicist at NASA or engineer at Google is put into a quandary due to their beliefs. When you want to be in control and believe you have the ability to change the world or build a better widget, submitting your will to a higher power and acknowledging that you are not in control is the last thing you want to do.
Lastly, I would strongly suggest to the political Left to stop the anti-science rhetoric against those of faith because there is a growing number of mainstream Christians, who really believe in literal translation of the Bible, who are young Democrats. There are many Millennials that have a conservative Christian faith, but lean politically left. I would highly recommend to those in the political leadership of the Left to understand better who these Christians are because these are not just people with their “religion” and many do not hold guns but a faith that is logical, rational and congruent with science.
Bernard Moon is a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.