Across Pacific & Asia

Can a Really Smart Person NOT Believe in God?

By Jeremy Reynalds

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) -- I wish that Dr. Michael Guillen had been around me when I was growing up in England in the 1960's and early 1970's.

As an unsaved youngster during those years I vigorously rebuffed all attempts to share the gospel with me. I remember thinking, “How can anyone who is even a little intelligent believe the Bible? That Christian stuff is for kids and grandmothers and the unintelligent – not for smart people like me!”

But in his latest book “Can a Smart Person Believe in God?” Guillen – who’s a very smart man – tells of his successful attempt to reconcile his scientific career with his deeply religious upbringing. (Pictured: Book cover).

Just for the record, Guillen earned his B.S. from UCLA and his Ph.D. from Cornell University in physics, mathematics and astronomy. For the next eight years he was an award-winning physics instructor at Harvard University.

In addition, Guillen has also written articles for a number of publications that include Science News, Psychology Today magazine, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Then as if that wasn’t enough, he was an Emmy-award-winning Science Correspondent for ABC News for 14 years.

In the book, Guillen says that many religious people who have faith in God feel no need at all for reason. And conversely, many academics and others who rely (too) heavily on logic, loudly proclaim that they have no need at all for faith.

While there’s an obvious need for the two sides to come together, the question is how?

Guillen provides a very satisfying answer in “Can a Smart Person Believe in God?” He uses the term SQ, which stands for Spiritual Quotient – the spiritual counterpart to IQ. According to Guillen, our SQ should matter to us just as much as our IQ, cholesterol level or personality traits.

Guillen says that our journey through life works best when we get our IQ to work right alongside our SQ.

Then, Guillen points out, we acquire what he calls “stereoscopic faith” – a faith that allows us to see the world in stereo.

“With stereoscopic faith,” Guillen says, “you’ll see reality in its full, multidimensional glory: space and time on the one hand, meaning and purpose on the other.”

Not surprisingly, the overall reaction to Guillen’s book has been very positive.

In a recent interview he told me typical reaction has been something like this. “Thank you for your message. It is always so timely. You are the right man with the right book at the right time.”

It is obvious, Guillen said, that people are delighted to hear such a hopeful message. He said, “So much time has been spent nurturing the idea that science and religion are incompatible and we have to make a choice. Readers are delighted to learn about someone who has learned how to reconcile the two ... and that we don't have to make a choice. The mind and spirit can come together in some coherent way.”

Guillen said, “So much of the divisiveness in our nation all boils down to us being fed by the notion that we have to choose between intelligence and spirituality. Don't choose. (When you do that) you are tearing your mind away from your spirit and you can’t be a whole person until you learn to integrate the two. Your mind cannot be at war with your spirit. Jesus encourages us to integrate ourselves. Everything He gave us works to open our eyes to the loving presence of the Lord.”


Guillen said for as long as he can remember he had wanted to be a scientist. That ambition, he said, puzzled his family and friends. “I was a real odd ball because no one knew or cared the first thing about science.”

While preparing to fulfil his dream, Guillen acquired an interest in communicating science. Along the way Guillen lived out that interest by first hosting a weekly TV science special and then being hired to do regular science reports – before finally being called on by ABC to be the network’s science editor.

Reflecting on the time he spent working with ABC, Guillen said he spent “14 wonderful years at ABC News as their science editor. “I saw the Titanic with my own eyes. I have flown into the mouth of St. Helen’s. I am grateful for that chance to see God’s creation up close and personal. That experience has affected me in many ways.”

As a scientist and a science communicator at ABC, Guillen said, “I kind of lived a closeted existence.” So closeted, that God was not mentioned, even though Guillen emphasized that he was never told by anyone at ABC not to mention God on the air.

“For the longest time I sublimated my belief in God,” he said. “‘You go along to get along.’ I wanted to be accepted.”


However, one day Guillen knew it was time to speak up about his faith and that happened in 1997 during a roundtable discussion about cloning on “Good Morning America.”

For the first time, Guillen publicly revealed that he was a scientist who believed in God.

Guillen said the reaction he got was good. “I had camera crews and production staff coming up to me in wonderment.”

In addition, he also received overwhelmingly positive feedback from viewers.

It was out of that initial encouraging response, Guillen said, that “Can a Smart Person Believe in God?” was birthed.

“I discovered there is a desire out there to try and reconcile science and religion,” he said. “Most people don’t know how and if it can be done and (they) think science and religion are natural enemies.”

Looking back, Guillen said, every step of his life has been an important one to prepare him for where he is now.

“I want to make people understand that the mind and the spirit are not only compatible but they are synergistic,” he said.


So where is Guillen now? Even busier than he was at ABC News, as the president of Spectacular Science Productions, a company focusing on television documentaries and series.

He’s also planning on writing more books where he will develop the concept he introduced in “Can a Smart Person Believe in God?”

And there’s more. Guillen is also the host of a new weekly, one-hour, prime-time science and technology series for The History Channel. The pilot is being filmed this fall and if all goes well, the series will debut in the fall 2005 season.

When he’s not writing and filming television specials, Guillen is also the chief consultant for science and religion for Crystal Cathedral Ministries.

Right now he’s working on a new Crystal Cathedral project called the “Glory of Creation.”

The project, Guillen said, “reenacts the story of creation in a way which is completely faithful to both the Bible and modern science.”

Project producers and Guillen know exactly what they would like to see accomplished with the “Glory of Creation.”

“Our intention,” Guillen said, “is that if by any chance the grandma from Peoria is sitting next to the skeptical scientist from Cal Tech they will both be entertained and edified and both will see we have been uncompromisingly faithful to both (the Bible and modern science.”)

Guillen told me, “I have said to the Lord, ‘thank you for letting me have the desires of my heart.’ He allowed me to become the scientist I dreamed about. I now want to fulfil the desires of the Lord’s heart for me. If experience is any guide I can only imagine that what He has planned for me is greater than anything I had planned for myself.”

To learn more about Guillen and his work go to  or

Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, or He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico and is a candidate for the Ph.D. in intercultural education at Biola University in Los Angeles. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at Tel: (505) 877-6967 or (505) 400-7145. Note: A black and white JPEG picture of Jeremy Reynalds is available on request from Dan Wooding at

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