CAN A SMART PERSON
BELIEVE IN GOD?
Can a Really
Smart Person NOT Believe in God?
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:
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
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
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
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.”
GROWING UP AND KEEPING GOD IN THE CLOSET
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
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.”
COMING OUT OF THE SPIRITUAL CLOSET: A SCIENTIST WHO
PROCLAIMS HIS BELIEF IN GOD
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
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.
GUILLEN NOW AND IN THE FUTURE
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
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 www.michaelguillen.com
|Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance
writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's
largest emergency homeless shelter, http://www.joyjunction.org or http://www.christianity.com/joyjunction.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.