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: Jack Van Dyke, Retired Professor of Chemistry and Dean of Science at Trinity Western University.
1. Why did you choose your scientific discipline?
My early interest in science was piqued in a grade 11 chemistry course when students often came to me for help on their assignments. After finishing high school, I continued my chemistry studies at university, culminating in a PhD in physical organic chemistry. After this point, I really wanted to teach at a university, but soon realized that there were very few positions of this nature available. Thus I went to work in the polymer industry doing research as well as assisting sales personnel in marketing new products. This lasted for nearly 7 enjoyable years. Eventually, a position opened at Trinity Western University, and I decided to leave my career in industry and join TWU’s chemistry department. In retrospect, although I hadn’t initially wanted to work in industry, it turned out that what I learned during that period of my career was deeply valuable for my teaching and later administrative work. I had no difficulty finding many application areas, and stories, that I could use to spice up my classes. While teaching at TWU I began to get very interested in environmental issues and wanted to respond to God’s call on Christians to be part of environmental solutions rather than just the problem. As the university grew, I began to shift more into administration and eventually became Dean of Science. This allowed me to sponsor important new programs such as environmental studies and biotechnology. I was also able to effectively promote the integration of Christian principles into science courses. Over more than 35 years at TWU, my career has been incredibly rewarding, and I still enjoy mentoring and encouraging younger faculty to see their disciplines through the lens of Scripture.
2. What is one of your favourite Bible verses and why?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”
Although I have not always been successful in living by this scripture, it has always been a call on my life to serve God in whatever area I find myself in.
3. Which Canadian city or landscape do you love exploring and why?
Although there are various mountainous areas within British Columbia, the area I have most enjoyed exploring is the Black Tusk area of Garibaldi Provincial Park, north of Vancouver. Beautiful Garibaldi Lake is surrounded by snowcapped mountains, and by hiking there are some relatively accessible viewpoints of this incredible jewel. Climbing the Black Tusk itself a couple of times has been quite a challenge, as I can be fearful of heights, especially when you have to stand close to the edge of a cliff while ascending this eroded volcano shaft. From this height, you can feel incredibly small and appreciative of the amazing gift God gives us in his creation. It inspires me, and I hope I can inspire others, to take care of the creation responsibly and enjoy it for all its worth. The creation testifies of God’s abundance and generosity toward us, which is only exceeded by the gift of his son Jesus.