Dr David Snoke is a leading scientist in his field. Apologist Joel Furches spoke to him about why he believes science and God go hand-in-glove
Can Christians be scientists?
The University of Pittsburgh has one of the finest solid-state optics laboratories around. Various scientists utilise this laboratory to conduct ultra-high precision experiments using high-power pulsed lasers, high-speed timing (trillionths of seconds) and cryogenics (temperatures down to a couple of degrees above absolute zero).
Standing among these researchers is Dr David Snoke. I recently had the opportunity to interview Snoke on his work in quantum mechanics and his belief in God. Dr Snoke is a Christian and also a scientist.
Snoke’s particular experiments involve the study of the effects of basic quantum mechanics. Recently, his research has focused on the “superfluidity of light”—light waves that act like superconductors.
Snoke has put in a great deal of work and effort in order to be one of the privileged few who advance human understanding at the cutting edge of experimental quantum physics. Beginning with a bachelor’s degree in Physics earned from Cornell University in 1983, Snoke earned his PhD in physics at the University of Illinois. He has served as a fellow at the Max-Planck Institute in Stuttgart, Germany and is currently a fellow at the American Physical Society. He also serves as a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, where he conducts his experiments.
Snoke has authored over 120 publications for scientific journals, three scientific books, and two scientific textbooks. Numerous federal funding agencies have awarded Snoke grants because of his results and the confidence they have in the effectiveness of his work.
It is safe to say that Snoke is a brilliant man and a very effective scientist. He is something else, as well. Snoke is a very committed Christian.
For Snoke, there has never been any conflict between his passion for science and his love for Christ. His interest in science began as a teenager, reading books by Isaac Asimov and taking classes in physics. But Snoke’s teenage reading included more than science fiction. Along with Asimov, he found himself reading books by Ayn Rand and CS Lewis. His interest piqued by these fine authors, Snoke dove in and consumed the New Testament as well.
Snoke describes his journey from there:
“My family did not attend church when I was a child; then I joined a theologically liberal Episcopal church, but was not really a Christian. When I really came to faith in my senior year of high school, I began attending evangelical churches.”
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Reconciling God and science
Now, while Snoke is busy unlocking the secrets of the Universe, he still finds time to reside as president of the Christian Scientific Society. Looking at the intricate workings of the smallest gears of reality, Snoke’s belief in God is, if anything, strengthened.
While cranking out academic books and articles, Snoke also busies himself writing articles and books that show how science and Christianity are complementary. On his webpage, Snoke writes articles engaging in the ‘ Intelligent Design’ debate, of whether the hand of God may be seen in the fine-tuning of nature, and whether standard Darwinism is a sufficient explanation for the history of life. His Christian articles also reflect on his thoughts about the foundations of quantum mechanics, which relate directly to his professional work in physics theory and experimentation.
Snoke finds that his online presence is sometimes plagued with sceptical criticism. For instance, his Wikipedia page is regularly edited to place his character and scientific work under question due to his participation in the Intelligent Design debate. Nevertheless, he describes his interactions with fellow scientists as being cordial and engaging when discussing God and science. Interestingly, it is sometimes other Christians that he finds to be building walls of separation between their faith and science. Snoke writes a great deal to encourage believers to engage, rather than retreat, from science.
As far as the brilliant physicist David Snoke is concerned, God and science are hand-in-glove.
David W. Snoke is a physics professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. In 2006 he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society “for his pioneering work on the experimental and theoretical understanding of dynamical optical processes in semiconductor systems.”
Joel Furches is an apologist, journalist and researcher on conversion and deconversion, based in the USA.