Introductions is a blog series introducing members of New Zealand Christians in Science, our stories into faith and into science. We hope you will get to know us and join the movement.
Prof. Peter Munro, FRSNZ
I liked chemistry and mathematics at high school and saw chemical engineering as an exciting degree that combined the two. I was raised on a dairy farm and so was more interested in a pragmatic subject like engineering that builds things and makes them work than in pure science. As my career advanced I managed many multidisciplinary teams that included scientists, engineers and technologists so began to understand the interface between these broad disciplines well. Engineering and science have many similarities in their approach to the world but engineering focuses on making things that work in a way that is useful to humanity.
Most of my research publications have been on processing and functionality of milk proteins. For a major part of my career I managed multidisciplinary teams of scientists and engineers for the New Zealand dairy industry, mainly within Fonterra Research Centre and its predecessor New Zealand Dairy Research Institute.
I was brought up in a Christian home so the claims of Jesus Christ were clearly presented to me on many occasions through attendance at Sunday schools and church. I chose to accept Jesus Christ as my own personal saviour at age 13.
I admire most, about Jesus’ life, the way he interacted with people based on their individual needs, both physical and spiritual, and on where their heart was in terms of faith in God. In his interactions he usually showed an immense amount of love for people, especially those who had a clear need. However, for those such as the Pharisees who followed their own rules and systems and regarded this as more important than worshipping God from the heart he was not so tolerant.
Working with milk is very interesting for a Christian. Part of milk science involves understanding the intricacies of the hundreds of different components in milk and how they so neatly meet the needs of newborn animals or humans. Milk is a natural material and the way it has been designed as the complete food for newborns is just another piece of evidence for God’s love and wisdom in creation, in my view.
I have followed with interest some of the debate on creation versus evolution. None of this has caused me any difficulty with my faith because I believe that God is sovereign and all powerful and could have created the universe in any way he chose. I believe that Christians who are scientists should follow the evidence and see where it leads. The many scientists, mainly atheists, who claim that science disproves the Bible do not understand either the limitations of science or the omnipotence of God.
I view my work on dairy processing as doing my best to use this great natural liquid that God has designed to meet the needs of humanity for nutrition. The perspective I have on scientific research is that it is an endeavour to understand and best use the natural world that God has designed for us and placed us in.
My advice for young Christians in the sciences? Follow the evidence in science and see where it leads. Also take an investigative and rational approach to your faith in God – again see where the evidence leads. This should include keeping up with the latest in Christian apologetics. This can be done by reading books by or following the web on the best apologists like William Lane Craig. In your reading make sure you do not limit yourself to just the creation/evolution debate but also read the evidence for God and his design in astrophysics. Keep an active interest in the interface between science and faith but keep an open mind. It is arrogant of some Christians to put limits on how God might have created His world and say “God would not have created the world that way.” For those atheist scientists you come across in universities and elsewhere who say that science has all the answers and there is no need for any faith in God I believe the best approach is to ask them which of the following two seems to need the most faith. 1. To believe that complex molecules such as DNA and the complex processes of living organisms such as human beings came about by a process of random chance. 2. To believe that everything was designed and created by an omnipotent supernatural being whom we call God, and to explore what this God has revealed to us in his book the Bible.