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.
George Seber, FRSNZ, Ph.D, Dip. Counsel., Cert. Supervision
Emeritus Professor of Statistics, University of Auckland
When did you know or decide you were going to be a scientist? Or what inspired you to do science?
I became a committed Christian at the age of 14 through a church meeting and around that time I also became a confirmed mathematician. This was brought about through our school maths teacher giving us regular challenge problems. At Auckland University I majored in Pure and Applied Mathematics and Physics, but later ended up completing a PhD in theoretical Statistics at Manchester University in England. Statistics was a subject that through consulting got me involved in many other subjects including most branches of science. Amongst other topics, I ended up doing research in statistical ecology and human blood genetics.
Could you briefly explain your current area of research?
At present I am writing a book (my 19th) on methods of estimating animal numbers and related parameters like survival rates. I am also interested in Psychology, having been a counsellor for 13 years and written a large book on the subject.
What do you admire most about Jesus’ life?
I have been interested in Christian apologetics for many years and last year had a book published in the subject. In writing it I have learnt a lot and have come to realise what an amazing world we live in and what an amazing person was (and is) Jesus of Nazareth. He was a person of great compassion.
Does your science help you to worship God?
Science has not been a major factor in my worship of God as it involves my spirit more than my mind but science has helped me to confirm my faith. Apologetics has also been a topic that has opened conversations with all sorts of people when they ask me what I write about
What if any aspect of science has caused you the most difficulty when it comes to faith?
I have had more than my share of suffering but I see purpose in it for myself. However I have difficulty with other people’s suffering. Although I do have some answers I find it is a mystery that has exercised me more than any other question.
How does your faith impact your science, if it does?
I can see in my work an outworking of our mandate to care for our environment (Genesis 1:26), and to use statistics for the benefit of people.
What advice would you have for young Christians in the sciences?
I recently gave a talk to students and made the following points: Put God first, learn about Christianity as you learn about science, be a good and reliable student and researcher, and lead a balanced life (mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually).