When I was a little boy growing up in the Texas panhandle, I was at church every time the doors were open. I can distinctly remember an incident at church where I asked about an apparent discrepancy between two different gospel accounts, and an adult shushed me, as if to tell me that some questions were off limits. My father took me aside later, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “You can ask any question you want. The Bible can take it.”
This incident (and many others like it) gave me the confidence to know that my faith and my academic studies would never come into conflict. When I got to college at Texas Tech, I noted that very few faculty members were Christians; I had heard other Christians complain about under-representation in academia, but I began to think that this was the fault of Christians abandoning the area rather than conscious exclusion. I also noted that the few Christian faculty members that I knew were able to make a big difference to the students around them: It was almost as if they were reassuring students that academia is a natural place for Christians to excel.
I also began to learn more about the philosophical foundation for science and ethics, and I found that Christianity is a worldview that can provide a consistent grounding for these areas: We can use our fallible human minds to try to understand a mysterious, vast universe using our reason and simple mathematical expressions, and it actually works! How can this be true? It’s because the same God who created the natural universe also created our minds in such a way that we can understand and describe the universe. Dr. Stephen Hawking once asked, “What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?” Christianity provides a coherent answer to this question and shows that the sense of wonder that we feel when we make scientific discoveries is meant to push us to praise God. The famed astronomer Johannes Kepler said, “Those [scientific] laws are within the grasp of the human mind. God wanted us to recognize them by creating us after his own image so that we could share in his own thoughts.”
With all this in mind, I resolved to pursue doctoral studies in chemical engineering and to become a professor. This is what it means to be “salt and light” as Jesus said: To be an influence for the gospel in all walks of life.
In my current role in the Christian Faculty Network at Texas A&M, one of my main goals is to encourage students and faculty alike to actively consider the big questions of life, such as “What is our purpose? What happens after we die? What defines questions of ethics?” A university campus is the perfect place for us all to challenge each other to consider the claims of Christ and examine what it implies for our values, our behavior, and our purpose.
"The diversity of the phenomena of nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment." - Kepler
Fantasy dinner guests
Augustine, J.R.R. Tolkien, Martin Luther
Best advice I ever received
Aim for success. Don't aim for the trappings and markers of success.
If I weren't a professor, I would
be a political journalist
Making Sense of God by Tim Keller; Desiring God by John Piper
The Hunt for Red October; Princess Bride; Bridge on the River Kwai
Dispersed nanomaterials, composites, and manufacturing
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