For the past 50 years, the Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation has facilitated discussions about science and Christian faith in Canada. As part of our 50th-anniversary celebrations, we asked 50 CSCA members to comment on their personal connections to science, scripture, and Canadian scenery. We will share these contributions throughout 2023 in the hope that you will find them engaging and encouraging.
CSCA member of the week: Arnold E. Sikkema, Professor of Physics at Trinity Western University (Langley, BC), Executive Director of CSCA
1. Why did you choose your scientific discipline?
I wanted to be a botanical illustrator when I was in grade 7 because I liked labeling plant parts in neat diagrams. But in grade 10, when my teacher couldn’t answer my question about why a car kept moving on a road when there was no net force exerted upon it, I decided to study physics. This was further confirmed by a grade 11 & 13 physics teacher’s encouragement, and in university, I worked with another CSCA past president, Robert Mann, on gravitation and cosmology in my late undergraduate years. But because of faith-science challenges that I was not willing to engage due to my narrow ecumenical views, I switched to condensed matter theory for graduate school. In that field, I found a PhD advisor who was using the particle physics methods that I found exciting to study materials exhibiting features like superconductivity and magnetism.
2. What is one of your favourite Bible verses and why?
“[Our Lord Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
—Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV)
I find this passage inspirational on many levels. Instead of just a theistic perspective, in which there is some kind of a personal god, it offers a Christological and gospel perspective, portraying God as immanent and transcendent in Christ’s incarnation, and revealing the cosmic scope of the creating, sustaining, and reconciling work of God. The fact that all things hold together in Christ is what gives me confidence in the love and care God has for all creation; it’s because of this that we can do science. And I try to motivate students to see how their study of and work in science can amplify our participation in God’s reconciliation of all things through Christ.
3. Which Canadian city or landscape do you love exploring and why?
Visiting BC’s Sunshine Coast, a short ferry trip from Vancouver, brings us from our busy suburban life into an oasis of refreshment, with its rich treasure of forest & mountain, cove & inlet. We love to escape there for a couple of days either mid-February (for a spring semester break) or late August (to prepare for the fall semester), once every year or two.