Inspiration from a Man of Science

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I want to thank Ray. He drove nearly six hours from his home in Georgia to Raleigh to attend the BioLogos conference a few weeks ago. He arrived early—before any of us showed up—for our workshop to help clergy better engage science in their ministries. He enthusiastically participated in discussions and showed his desire to improve the way the church relates to science. After decades of personal research and reflection, Ray is convinced of the harmony between Christian faith and science.

Ray approaches this conversation as an electrical engineer and as a lay leaders at his local church. Today he is ruling elder emeritus in his home church.  You see, Ray, became an elder in 1968. He is a World War II veteran and will celebrate his 100th birthday this summer. (He and his wife, also approaching 100, are nearing their 80th wedding anniversary).

Like so many Christians in the sciences, nearly all of whom are several decades younger, Ray is frustrated with the church’s response to mainstream science. Despite decades of leadership in his local congregation, they do not endorse an understanding of Scripture that is consistent with what science is telling us about God’s amazing creation.

Ray produced a presentation with over 40 slides carefully working through how to understand Genesis 1 and what modern science tells us, yet his church will not give it a hearing. So, he’s hitting the road again, traveling to a nearby church, to present his life’s work in hopes that “I get a positive reaction [and] it will provide a spring-board for further presentations.”

Welcome to the team, Ray! We are thrilled to know your story and count you as a partner in the work we do at Science for the Church.

A Man of Service

Ray joined the Navy at age 17, five months after Pearl Harbor. He served as an aviation electronic technician on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific fleet. He was released from active duty in the fall of 1945 after having earned the rank of chief petty officer. Then he went to college, studying electrical engineering. He remained in the Naval Air Force Reserve, was recalled to active duty for the Korean War, and retired for good in 1965 as a senior lieutenant air intelligence officer.

He met his wife in 1945, and they married later that year. They have three children and three grandchildren.

He grew up “in a nominal Christian family.” However, it wasn’t until 1957—after both wars—that he became a Christian.

Ray retired as an engineer in 1989 after years of both civilian and government work, including at the Naval Air Development Center, the Federal Aviation Agency, and Lockheed Aircraft Company. During the span of his engineering career, he assumed leadership in the church, including serving as a commissioner to the national meetings that formed his home congregation’s denomination.

This man, who has long-served both church and country, came to BioLogos and our workshop because he wanted to learn how he could help the body of Christ to see the harmony between faith and science.


  • Peer organizations like the American Scientific Affiliation and BioLogos regularly convene Christians in the sciences like Ray who are passionate to see science better addressed in their churches.
  • Here are some resources on science as a Christian vocation.
  • The first lesson in our curriculum, Science is Telling the Glory of God, can help you understand some historical background for the perceived conflict between science and faith.

Inspiration

Those years Ray spent serving the Navy in World War II, ages 17-21, are the same span of years that researchers tell us many contemporary young adults are saying goodbye to the church. New research supported by the Pinetops Foundation estimates 1 million young people (those born between 2000 and 2020) will leave the church each year, meaning as many as 40 million Christians could walk away from the church by 2050.

The reasons for this are many—scandalous behavior and hypocrisy in the church, how the church responds to politics and social issues like gender and sexuality, or its approach towards other religions—but evidence suggests failure to satisfactorily address science factors in as well. Researchers tell us that churches often fail to create spaces to answer people’s questions and that the church is seen to be antagonistic to science. For some, it is a failure to address their concerns about faith and science; for others, it is a sense of outright conflict between the two.

Yet, Ray is not the only person to have lived an extraordinary life of science and faith. He and many others (click this link for a very, very long list) not only claim harmony between them, but they embody it.

I’m inspired that a 99-year-old vet and church leader drove to Raleigh to attend the BioLogos conference and our workshop and that he is going on the road to proclaim the harmony of faith and science to a neighboring church.

Ray will be teaching that neighboring church an interpretation of Genesis 1 that is compatible with the facts of modern science.  He takes his Bible seriously as well as his science. I pray others see that while some of our congregations may still be hesitant to adopt Ray’s harmonious approach, it does exist; and it is a way for those who love the Bible and Jesus to understand their connection with modern science. Moreover, there is someone like Ray, diligently pursuing the harmony of faith and science, in most of our churches.

Science should never be a reason anyone leaves the church. Faithful science professionals like Ray should be a reason we stay. May Ray’s service inspire our own so that we might bring about a day where neither believers nor unbelievers are surprised to find the likes of Ray teaching and preaching about the harmony of faith and science in our churches.

Let me give Ray the last word. On a slide with an array of stars and galaxies as a background and earth in the foreground, he leads us to worship: “Praise God for His Magnificent Creation.”

Cheers,
Drew

P.S. Allow me to offer two updates:

(1) Many of you have asked me about Hope. The prognosis is much better. After several tests and procedures, doctors believe they found the leukemia early and that it is localized. The expectation now is that upon completion of chemo sometime this summer, Hope will be cancer free.

(2) I want to thank all of you who participated in Giving Day 2024.  We raised over $10,000 thanks to the generosity of 70 donors.  A big thank you goes to Heather who was our leading fundraiser. If you missed Giving Day, but would still like to support us, you can do so here.

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