Christians in Engineering & Technology
|This newsletter is published is a joint publication of the ASA CEST and the CES, distributed no more than once per month. You can sign up to receive an email notification when a new newsletter is available. To submit an article for the newsletter, contact the editor, Steve VanderLeest.||
A Guest Editorial by Joe Carson
My first job as an engineer was to play an active role in the deaths of 20 million people, if so ordered, as an engineering division officer on a nuclear missile submarine. My career has been about nuclear technology - for power, weapons, and others uses. To uphold and defend my positive legal and professional duty to my profession of engineering, its code of ethics, and its service to humanity - ultimately for faith-based reasons grounded in Christian conviction - I "blew whistles" about serious public/workplace health and safety issues (including issues with the safeguards and security of America's nuclear stockpile), in the Department of Energy, which (surprisingly enough) still employs me as a nuclear safety engineer.
No engineer in the history of the profession in America and no federal employee in the history of the civil service has "prevailed" in more whistleblower-related litigation than I. Why has this happened and gone on so long? An essential reason is the lack of an organized Christian influence in the engineering profession. So my profession and faith community fail to adequately de-legitimize my employer's unlawful actions, making me just a "speeding ticket," a strategic win as it intimidates so many others into silence. Why is there no such thing? An essential reason is that Christian engineers fear loss of professional opportunity (i.e. being hired or promoted) if they were to be "salt and light" in their profession. Christian engineers, as other engineers, have legitimate interests in their professional standing and ability to provide for themselves and their families. But, I suggest, these legitimate interests do not trump other interests, such as being willing to "rock boats," when necessary to advance the engineering profession, the scope and implemenation of its code of ethics, and it service to humanity.
If only the stakes were not so high - does anyone really think it likely that our children and grandchildren will get to die natural deaths if present trends continue?
Apparently, Pope Benedict sees things somewhat similarly (see story about his call to end war below). But, absent an organized Christian influence in the engineering profession, there will be no end to wars - engineers and their employers make weapons and their delivery systems, they have a financial inducement for war. I do not claim that an organized Christian influence in the engineering profession is sufficient to end war, only that it is necessary. Why? It could readily spur the engineering profession, mankind's largest and most global secular profession, with about 20 million degreed members worldwide, to accept that just as it was essential to the creation of mankind's "built-environment" which is essential to civilization in 2007 and foreseeable future, it was also essential to the creation of the means to destroy it, quickly and with prejudice, along with much of the natural order, and that the scope and implementation of engineering ethics is relevant to questions of war and peace, while Christianity is relevant questions of the scope and implementation of engineering ethics.
Christ called his followers to be "salt and light" (Matthew 5:13). That presupposes human society would need such a preservative, corrective, reformative influence and Christians, individually and, as much if not more so, collectively, could be effective in providing it.
There is no technical, political, or economic reason why the group I established (or a similar group, if one existed, I would not have created one, being an engineer, I am loath to "re-invent the wheel") cannot have 500,000+ members, worldwide, by 2010. There is only one obstacle - leaders and influence makers in Christian faith communities, across denominational line and international borders - agreeing that such a collective influence should exist and saying so. That will spur enough Christian engineers to stop being deterred by the possibility of possible loss of professional standing and/or opportunity and start being a "salt and light" influence in their profession (which, paradoxically enough, will make the possibility of loss of professional opportunity much less likely).
Stop waiting for another Christian engineer to do it, start seeking to ascertain and advance God's will in and through our profession and its Christian members. Our profession is a collective, there is no king, everyone has an equal voice in its polity, as its professional societies operate by Robert's Rules, which presume every member is equal. If you do not care for the group I am trying to make viable, seek to change it, your voice counts as much as mine and everyone else's, per Robert's Rules. Or start another group - 10 groups would be better than no groups.
I am going to organize a free conference call in the next two weeks or so to ascertain if the interest exists in establishing a Committee to draft bylaws, per Robert's Rules, and do the other necessary work to create a viable, low-cost, high-value added, virtual, auxiliary, interdenominational, international, auxiliary, engineering professional society for Christian engineers. If the "helm is connected to the rudder" in the Catholic Church, I hope to have obtained buy-in from some Catholic leaders and influence makers by then.
If you have an interest in participating in the call, send me an email or give me a call (865-300-5831).
Please forward or other circulate this to any and all Christian engineers and/or other Christians you think appropriate.
Your co-worker in His creation,
Joe Carson, PE
Pope urges an end to war, July 22, 2007 http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2007-07-22-pope-peace_N.htm
The next Christian Engineering Education Conference will be June 25-27, 2008 at Geneva College (near Pittsburgh, the ASEE site that year). Please consider volunteering for our steering committee to help make plans for this conference. We need organizers, reviewers, worship leaders/readers/accompanists, and more. Please contact Steve VanderLeest, http://www.calvin.edu/academic/engineering/faculty/svleest, and indicate how you could help.
Many of our readers are on the faculty of engineering departments at Christian colleges and universities. Many other readers are graduates of these programs. A simple list of engineering programs at Christian colleges and universities is available on the CES website. We would like to begin a series of articles highlighting one of these programs each month, providing more in-depth descriptions. The first one appeared in our previous issue, providing an overview of the program at Olivet. What would you like to see in these articles? What is important to know about a program? If you would be willing to write the article for your institution, please contact the editor, Steve VanderLeest.
This page is maintained by Steve
VanderLeest at Calvin College.
It was last modified on 29-Jul-2007.