Scientists Tell Their Stories: Owen Gingerich
Note: BioLogos is not alone in seeking a deeper and more fruitful engagement between the church and the best contemporary science, and we celebrate the work of other schools, ministries and organizations that share this commitment. Asbury Seminary is such a partner and recently held the last of three annual Q3 Conferences funded by the John Templeton Foundation's Science for Ministry Initiative. This final conference was dedicated to exploring how evangelical faith and science can work together--helping the church "integrate insights from the world of science with our calling to bear witness to God's New Creation for the sake of the world."
Today we highlight another video from Q3's Scientists Tell Their Stories series, in which scientists share personal accounts of their commitments and work in relation to faith and science. Q3 Director Michael Pasquarello III has described the aim of these testimonies as helping the Church "see more clearly how much we share in common with not only these, but with many other scientists." Today's video features Owen Gingerich, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and History of Science at Harvard University.
Dr. Owen Gingerich is professor emeritus of astronomy and history of science at Harvard University. He grew up in a Christian home and attended a Christian college in northern Indiana that had a motto of “Culture for service”, something that was very important in thinking about what he might do with his life.
When it came time to go to graduate school, one of his science professors told him “If you feel a calling to go to astronomy, you should give it a try, because we shouldn’t let atheists take over any particular field.”
And so he went on to a career in astronomy. In the late 1980’s, Dr. Gingerich had a unique opportunity to give a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania on the topic of science and Christian faith. Since then, he’s been trying to help people better understand God’s creation. For example, God could have made the universe in many different ways, but given the particular way it appears, it suggests that we wouldn’t be here if the universe were not very, very old, because out of the big bang came hydrogen and helium, but not oxygen and the iron we need for our blood, for instance. Those things came from the interiors of giant stars and had to cook for long, long periods of time before we got those elements abundant enough for sustainable life. It’s a marvelous picture, and Dr. Gingerich is actively involved in telling people about it.
Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.
Owen Gingerich is a former Research Professor of Astronomy and of the History of Science at Harvard University, and a senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. In addition to his research and teaching, he has written many books on the history of astronomy. Gingerich is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the International Academy of the History of Science. He has been active in the American Scientific Affiliation and a society of evangelical scientists.