And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jer 29:13
As I finished off my first semester in grad school, got assigned to an advisor and lab group, I have now officially entered this great realm of academia called research. Though humble grad students have humble quotidian routines, I still think the idea is quite grand. The search of knowledge, the deepening of understanding, still holds its aerial fancies in the mind of a beginner, and I hope they’ll never go away.
It was a solemn thought to realize that I have started something that basically wouldn’t finish until 4.5 years from now. The more I think of it, the more I vow to myself, these years better count! They have to matter. My work better makes a difference.
An engineer by training, I have always struggled with the question: what does it mean to be a godly engineer? It’s been in the back of my head since undergraduate years. What difference does the fact that I’m an Adventist make in my profession? Of course in science there’s the obvious controversy between creation and evolution, and a Christian of course believes and fights for the existence of an Intelligent Design: God. But is that it? Is that the only thing going on? As an undergrad, I felt that even the creation vs. evolution controversy did not really matter in engineering. After all, whether you believe in God or not, people seem to agree that 1+1=2 or that mass and energy are conserved or that specific differential equations only have certain solutions.
Some purport that the field of science and engineering are more systematic and classified, thus its devotees would find it easier to compartmentalize between their private, spiritual life and their professional or scientific pursuit. Whereas in the humanities, some who would claim that they are intellectuals cannot separate their academic life from the private life, say for example, in approaching the Bible. Yet for a follower of God, there is no excuse to leave God when you go to class/work. It does not matter whether your field is ‘codified’ or not. There has to be a difference between a God-led scientist and a non-God-led scientist. Now what would that difference be?
One particular afternoon, listening to Francis Arnold presenting her work in directed evolution, applied to biological systems, a question popped in my mind. What would it be like if God was the one directing this research? What difference would it make if before anyone did anything in the lab/office, he/she would ask God first? What would it be like to conduct a research with God as your Advisor?
It must make a difference. Just imagine what kind of cutting edge results you would get; results that come from direct instructions from the Maker of the universe, the One who created science. Instead of conducting a randomized process of finding one molecule or one protein that would accurately target tumor cells, maybe God would actually reveal to you which one it is from your myriad samples. Perhaps research would finally deliver the answer instead of mere outstretched promises to cure cancer. How efficient would it be too, time wise? Perhaps by now we would already have found many solutions to our problems. Perhaps we wouldn’t end up with this massive energy crisis and environmental issues if godly engineers earlier in the century would account that we are stewards of the earth. If all these had been done, those researchers and engineers would have been way ahead of their time.
By the way, to digress a little, I believe that these cutting edge researches should be done in our institutions. Adventist universities and colleges should be the host of God-led researches and leading the world to true education and search of knowledge. If the world will not fund God’s research (doh!), then we do it ourselves. God will fund it.
It must make a difference. Of course it will. How can a God-led research be the same as every other research?
So I want to commit my project right to the hands of my Maker, because I really do want to know what it’s like to be taught and led by God, yes, even in the field of optimization. The best place to learn science, is at the feet of Jesus.
 Wuthnow, R. Can Faith Be More Than a Side Show in the Contemporary Academy?. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, Department of Sociology (2007).
Found in Social Science Research Council (SSRC) website: http://religion.ssrc.org/reforum/