Q: Can you share some of your unique strengths or gifts with us?
If you would ask my parents, they would say that my strengths are: 1) my constant desire to learn and seek the truth, no matter where it's found; and 2) communicating what I've learned—whether it comes from studying the Bible or studying God's creation—to others. You could describe these strengths or gifts this way: I am a lifelong student with a lifelong love for teaching others.
Q: How old were you when you first started to recognize these gifts?
I taught myself to read at the age of four, and I devoured books, including books for grown-ups about grown-up topics. I loved to read about a variety of topics, whether the books were about the Bible, space exploration, dinosaurs, coin collecting, geography, or science fiction, and I loved to tell others about what I read. Two inspiring teachers in junior high and high school placed in my heart a desire to impact others in a positive way through teaching and instruction. Although as a young man I intended to become a full-time high school teacher or college professor, God had other plans for me and gifted me with an exciting career in the United States Navy, which included flying helicopters and serving as a military diplomat in foreign countries. However, in both instances, God still gave me opportunities to teach others: I served as a flight instructor for six years and later helped teach military leaders what I learned about foreign cultures to help them make the best decisions possible for protecting our country and our military men and women living and working in other countries.
Q: Can you share a short story of someone who inspired you to take action? How old were you?
Being inspired to do something that impacts others doesn't have to happen when you're young. It can happen at any age. When I was in my 30s, two men—Professor John Walton of Wheaton College and Dr. Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health—taught me how to better understand the two books that God wrote: the Book of God's Words—the Bible—and the Book of God's Works—nature. Professor Walton, who teaches college students how to read the Bible better, helped me to understand that God's prophets did not write the Bible to teach me how to do science but to understand how much God loves me, how much God desires me to be more like Him, and how to be with Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Dr. Collins, the scientist who led a team that decoded the very complex and super-long DNA strand that is in each of your cells, helped me understand that the code within the DNA of every creature—dead or alive—that makes a creature what it is, is actually another language that God wrote that can only be understood by carefully exploring God's other "book" of nature, which also contains the mathematically expressed natural laws that keep our universe running. As Italian astronomer Galileo (1564–1642) would say, Professor Walton helped me understand that God inspired people to write the Bible to tell us "how one goes to heaven," while Dr. Collins helped me understand that God inspired scientists to teach us "how the heavens go."* After these two men taught me how to read the Bible better and how to conduct scientific investigations better, I wrote a lot about what I learned from these men. I have also had the honor of speaking to people in many churches and even the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History about my journey in learning more about God's two "books."
Q: What impact have you made that you are most proud of?
Some people I know have had a difficult time trying to understand how to read the Bible and how to understand science. Because God's two "books"—the Bible and nature—can sometimes be hard to understand without the right teachers to guide us, they become confused and maybe decide to read only one of the "books" and miss out on the awesome stories found in the other. But with the right teachers, as I had, one can learn that the Bible and science—when read together—can help to answer so many of our questions, and even prompt us to ask exciting new ones. It makes me very happy when I teach others what I've learned and I see that they, too, find delight in reading the Bible and exploring the mysteries of our universe. That's why I have dedicated nearly 15 years of my life as a member of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), the world's largest organization of Christian men and women in science. I have been leading the Washington, DC, chapter since 2014 and have been on the ASA's Board of Directors, helping to lead the entire organization, since 2022.
Q: What wisdom or piece of advice do you feel is most applicable to the next generation of scientists?
To the reader, who I hope will become lovers of both God and science, my best piece of advice is this: Be humble. As human beings, none of us are perfect. Sometimes we think that we are right about anything and everything, and admitting we are wrong about something can be a hard thing to do. But if you are humble and always remain a student who is willing to learn no matter how old or educated you are, you will learn to rejoice in being shown that you were wrong, because you will then find yourself on a new path that is closer to God's truth, whether you are reading about it in the Bible or discovering it in the world around you. As German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) wrote, when we do science, we "share in [God's] own thoughts," and realizing that can be very exciting!**
* Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina (1615) of Lorraine, Regent of Tuscany.
** Letter (9/10 Apr 1599) to the Bavarian chancellor Herwart von Hohenburg; collected in Carola Baumgardt and Jamie Callan, Johannes Kepler Life and Letters (1953), p. 50.