So I’ve mentioned my involvement with the Christian Union before in this blog and the fact I go to week long Christian conferences in my spare time and stuff like that but I’ve never blogged specifically about what being a Christian and studying biology at university means to me. I’m going to (attempt) to do that today. WOOP.
So here’s the thing which I think is pretty cool about biology. It’s actually Biblical! People in the Bible were biologists! In Genesis (which is the first book of the Bible) it talks about God bringing all the creatures He created to Adam and Adam deciding what they should be called (Genesis 2:19-20). Now you don’t have to believe that Genesis is a literal account of how the earth was created, there are many Christians who don’t believe so and there are many different interpretations of what Genesis means . But I think this is an amazing picture of how God intended for man to interact with His creation. There is a whole field of biology called taxonomy which is about defining groups of organisms and giving them names, just like Adam does in Genesis. Also, a lot of the microscopy labs I do at Imperial involve looking at things on slides and deciding what they are, how they work and which categories they fall into. Ok I’m not discovering any new species… but I think it’s really pretty cool to be interacting with creation in the way God detailed in the Bible.
In the book of 1Kings, we meet King Solomon, one of the wisest and greatest kings of Israel. He prayed to God for wisdom and received it, which we can read about in 1Kings chapter 4:32-33 (which I’m adding here in full because I think it’s so cool) He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. I think Solomon is pretty much doing biology here. He knows a ton about plants and animals and he is clearly engaging with the world around him and desiring to know more about how it works. I think that part of Godly wisdom is seeking and desiring to know more about how creation works.
A lot of people think that ‘Christian’ and ‘scientist’ are mutually exclusive but I honestly think that being a Christian makes me want to be a scientist even more. It drives my passion and curiosity even further when I know that I’m not just exploring the natural world in my study, I’m exploring God’s creation. Today for example, we started the immunology section of our Virology and Immunology module. Learning about each carefully coordinated stage of an inflammatory response, all the cells involved, the chemical messages that must be relayed between the different types of blood cells, the signals that tell the blood vessels to become permeable to certain types of cells that can assist in destroying the invading pathogen… To me this is a system that only God could have come up with.
I do think it’s important to know that whatever you believe about science and it’s connection (or lack thereof) to God and spirituality is ok! University is a great place to be able to explore these kinds of things, form your own ideas and maybe change your mind if you want to. There are lots of faith groups at Imperial who put on events throughout the year which allow students and staff to engage in questions of faith and science. I’m not asking you to agree with what I believe, but come to university with an open mind and if you want to look in to these things more deeply… take the opportunities that are here for you.