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.
I chose computer science because I wanted to learn techniques to create websites, analyze big data, and come up with algorithms to solve interesting problems.
Well, that is a story! My journey to an academic life was neither pre-destined nor a random walk. Yet looking back it seems like there were elements of both. I grew up on a rural acreage, near a lake, in the age of “free-range children.” At our house, mom gave us three guiding rules: “Go outside; find something to do; stay out of trouble.” That is an invitation to become a biologist! Then in high school, my pastor said, “We need men like you in the ministry.” So, he arranged for the financing I needed for university. From then on, a number of inspiring instructors let me expand into my love of insects and aquatic systems. Most importantly, on graduation, the department chair gave me an ASA student subscription that launched me into this society. So, while there were many other potential career paths, the love of teaching from the natural world drew me on through a PhD and four decades in Christian Higher Education.
By default: I was in a BSc degree at McGill, and psychology was the closest discipline in Science to theology.
I was fascinated by math as a fantastic tool for explaining how the world works, and I like to break concepts down into their simple parts. This led me to explore string theory, which was just coming into vogue around the time of my PhD. Now in retirement from industry, I remain interested in physics at its most elementary level (if there is such a thing). Given how closely God’s cognition is tied to creation through His word, I’d also like to understand the cognitive and spiritual context of theoretical physics, even though they are outside of the physics discipline.
TWU• Corpus Christi College • UBC In November, Andrew Davison will give three talks in the Vancouver area. One of the founders of the Cambridge Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe, Andrew Davison is the Starbridge Professor of Theology and Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow in Theology and Dean of Chapel at Corpus Christi College. He is the author of many books, including Participation in God: A Study in Christian Doctrine and Metaphysics and Astrobiology and Christian Doctrine: Exploring the Implications of Life in the Universe (both Cambridge University Press). Talks 1 and 2 are …
I am not a scientist. But I preach and write about science-illumined texts because I want to know God more (and read all that he’s written). Science unpacks divine wisdom embedded in creation. It is the church’s greatest ally when it comes to reading God’s creation text. As I’ve worked with scientists over the years, I feel like I’ve come to know the empirical mind of Christ more (via nature and via the image-bearing nature of these scientists).
I like to think that my discipline chose me. After studying biological and health sciences as an undergraduate student and completing teacher’s college, I discerned a call to vocational ministry. The intersection of the life of the mind, the work of the body, and the compelling beauty of the Lord have been a consuming interest for me ever since.
Maybe because I was accident-prone and had a number of hospital visits as a youth, I grew up with a strange disquiet about “What it all for?” This quest for meaning led me naturally to theology and philosophy, but such disciplines can seem oddly foreign, if not entirely abstract. In my undergrad years I stumbled into the writing of the sociologist Peter Berger, who explained how our philosophies have a social location—in fact, he said our worldviews are socially constructed. Having grown up in church, this made intuitive sense to me, and I went on to get graduate degrees in sociology and religious studies, seeing my studies as a form of grounded philosophy, or a worldview with legs. Since then I continue to ask about the history of certain religious perspectives and their connection to social structures and lived experience, what is now more formally called Practical Theology. This sort of interdisciplinary approach—of social science and theology—is what keeps me asking questions and listening for the wisdom hidden in the cacophony of academic voices today.
I have always enjoyed chemistry as far back as I can remember. After six years as an optician in Vancouver, I decided to attend Calvin College (now Calvin University) to pursue a career in chemistry. Calvin was followed by Penn State University where I became intrigued by analytical radiochemistry and obtained my PhD on neutron activation analysis of silicates. An offer from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) led my American-born wife, Evelyn, and me to the newly opened Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment (WNRE) in Eastern Manitoba. We planned to stay in its then-five-year-old company town for no more than a few years and then look for teaching positions at a small college. However, our plans changed, and I spent 35 interesting years at WNRE, the first nine years supporting the development of the only operating organically cooled nuclear research reactor. When AECL embarked on a research program on deep geological disposal of used nuclear fuel. I was asked to join that team. My research focused on the interaction of dissolved radionuclides with geological materials and contaminant transport in fractured granitic rock in a surface laboratory and in the nearby Underground Research Laboratory at a depth of 200 metres. Towards the end of my career at AECL, I became involved in the US Yucca Mountain Project and performed similar studies in volcanic rock. However, with the impending closing of WNRE, I found a part-time position as an adjunct professor at Providence University College where, among other topics, I developed and taught courses in environmental and earth science. Through my involvement in an international conference, I was invited to collaborate, pro bono, with scientists in Azerbaijan and Tajikistan under the Global Partnership Program on environmental remediation projects.