We interrupt our usually scheduled programming to bring you an interview timed for this week’s American Scientific Affiliation Annual (ASA) Meeting. Randy Isaac, executive director of ASA, talks about science, faith, and how ASA wants to support early career Christians in scientific fields. ASA and ESN will be collaborating more closely this year, so stay tuned! Please pray for Tom Grosh, Randy Isaac, and others as they seek to discern the best ways to serve emerging scholars together in collaborative conversations today.
1. ESN: For readers who haven’t heard of it before, can you tell us what the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) is and does?
Randy: The ASA is a network of Christians in the sciences who support one another in their faith. Our members create, review, and disseminate information about issues in science and Christian faith through a quarterly peer-reviewed journal, newsletters, annual meetings, local chapters, and a website.
2. ESN: How has working for and with ASA deepened your own understanding of what it means to be faithful in your vocation as a Christian and a professional scientist?
Randy: ASA has brought to me scientists of high caliber who express their own faith in the context of their vocation. Without that perspective, a science vocation can become independent of faith and my life is then compartmentalized. In this way, ASA has helped me bring together a deeper understanding of the meaning of the Scriptures as well as the deeper meaning of scientific results.
3. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve seen emerging Christians face in the sciences? What are some things ASA does to support members through those challenges?
Randy: Perhaps the biggest challenge is the cacophony of disagreement that echoes through the Christian community. There are many voices claiming “truth” but who are contradicting each other and the scientific community. It is very difficult for a Christian to sort through these ideas. ASA seeks to provide trustworthy sources, not by giving “right answers” but by giving voices to credible thinkers in the various fields of study, within a deep commitment to the authority of Scripture.
4. What are some of the most exciting things you’ve seen as you work with Christians in the sciences? How has ASA helped you to grow more excited about those things?
Randy: I find it exciting when people tell me that ASA stopped them at the door on the way out of the church. It’s fulfilling to hear how students struggled to learn how to connect their faith with their science and found common ground in the ASA. It is the fellowship with other Christians dealing with the same issues that resonates with me.
5. How do you hope ASA will encourage emerging scientists over time as they live out their callings to follow Christ in the academy and professions?
Randy: The best encouragement anyone can give is to be an example. Simply being a very good scientist and a Christian is a great testimony to both the Christian community and to the secular scientific community. Logical arguments are of little value until the quality and integrity of one’s life is clear.
6. Is there anything else you’d like to say to emerging Christian academics?
Randy: It is vital that Christians throughout the world strive for excellence in scholarship in all fields. We must learn to respect good academic work and to reject that which is of poor quality. The reputation of the church and, indeed, of our Lord Jesus Christ, depends on the quality with which we represent them. Both science and theology demand rigorous scholarship that we are called to exercise.
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