:: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 ::
Christianity is an Impediment to Success in Engineering and the Sciences
Posted by DarkWaters at 12:01 AM
Dr. Dewey H. Hodges, a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, likes to wear his faith on his sleeves. For example, in the Powerpoint slides of the introductory lecture of his graduate class on advanced dynamics, Dr. Hodges reveals that the "most important person in [his] life is Jesus Christ", that the "most important aspect of [his] life is that he is [Christ's] servant" and that any aspect of his course is praiseworthy "because of Christ" . Dr. Hodges continues to indicate anyone who believes that "a Christian cannot possibly be a knowledgeable engineer or scientist" is "misinformed". He then goes on to cite Sir Isaac Newton and the famous Renaissance mathematician Leonhard Euler as prime examples of practicing Christians who were monumentally successful in the sciences. Dr. Hodges then informs the class that out of the "56 universally acknowledged fathers of modern science, all but two professed faith in Jesus Christ."
Leaving the discussion of the appropriateness of this content for a graduate course in aerospace engineering aside, one must recognize that the claim that one cannot be a good Christian and a good scientist/engineer is very misleading. To whatever small extent this may be true, this message misses the more important point that taking Christianity seriously is a major impediment to being a good scientist or a successful engineer. When consistently practiced, Christianity demands a complete rejection of all that makes advancements in the science and engineering disciplines possible. The philosophical essence of religious faith demands the blind embrace of ideas in absence of evidence or proof. This is in stark contrast to a proper foundation for sound science, which requires that truths be corroborated with sensory evidence or logical inference from such evidence. In other words, good science mandates an uncompromising adherence to reason.
Christianity in particular has furiously opposed any form of scientific progress that challenges perceived Biblical truths. These include the violent persecution of astronomers who advanced a heliocentric view of the universe, to the criticism of the use of geological techniques to determine the age of the Earth, to the opposition of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection and to the modern objections to the morality of therapeutic cloning. In fact, it is when Christianity was most prevalent in the Western World that the West saw the fewest advances in science, medicine and technology .
Thus, while there are certainly many practicing Christians who are successful scientists and engineers, we must recognize that their success derives from their commitment to reason and is in spite of their Christian faith. No achievement of the human intellect has ever stemmed from religious devotion and any claim that Christianity is not diametrically opposed to reason is outrageous.
 The full lecture, including the Powerpoint slides, can be viewed in its entirety here: http://dcrs.video.gatech.edu/tools/viewer.php?media=dcrs&id=28360
 For more on this important history, see: http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2006-winter/tragedy-of-theology.asp
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