Yesterday, I drove up to Ohio State for a luncheon hosted by OSU’s Fellowship of Christian Faculty and Staff. The guest of honor, Dr. Henry F. “Fritz” Schaefer, III, was delivering the first of three lectures in Columbus. Dr. Schaefer is one of the world’s foremost chemists, the author of hundreds of journal articles, and the director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Computational Chemistry. During his talk, he mentioned that one of the benefits of growing older was seeing more and more of your friends win Nobel Prizes. No offense to my friends, but I think Dr. Schaefer travels in different circles than I do!
Dr. Schaefer is also a committed Christian. At this luncheon, he spoke to Christian faculty and staff about “The Worldviews of Great Scientists,” highlighting how many scientists throughout history have been committed believers. The list includes great historical scientists like Michael Faraday (whom Schaefer called “the greatest experimental scientist of all time”) and William Henry Perkins (the inventor of the world’s first synthetic dye – at the ripe age of 18!), but also important living scientists, too, like many of the Nobel Prize winners he mentioned.
Later in the evening, Dr. Schaefer spoke at a student event sponsored by the Veritas Forum, for whom he has often spoken. This talk was organized by Jonathan Weyer, a campus minister with the Coalition for Christian Outreach. I met Jonathan when I spoke at OSU in this spring, and we had a chance to chat a little bit more. Jonathan has developed a ministry among OSU’s atheist and agnostic students. He has the right personality and mind to address their hard questions and, perhaps more importantly, gain their trust and friendship so that the Gospel earns a hearing. Pray for his efforts.
Dr. Schaefer’s third talk, however, was the real reason he came to OSU. Today, he was speaking to OSU’s Supercomputer Center and Department of Chemistry for their annual Pitzer Lecture. His topic? “From Charge Transfer Complexes to Gallium Nitride Nanorods.” Dr. Schaefer exemplifies the kind of Christian scholar that ESN seeks to encourage and equip. I’m not talking about his accomplishments – few of us will count Nobel Laureates as our good friends – but the combination of his love for science and his love for Christ.
After the luncheon, I was able to have coffee with Seth Aldridge, the campus minister for OSU’s Student Christian Fellowship. SCF has attracted a number of honors students and high achievers to its ministry. Seth and I brainstormed about ways that ESN can connect students with Christian faculty at OSU.
I hope that Columbus will become a regular stop for me in the spring. All of the right elements are there – committed Christian faculty, campus ministers like Seth and Jonathan, a critical mass of Christian students heading to graduate school – but it will depend greatly on my level of financial support. If you’d like to make a year-end gift to my ministry, click here. All new or increased gifts, up to $4,000, will be matched in full, so this is a great time to increase your impact.