How Can I be a Catholic and an Engineer?

Non-Christians are often surprised to hear that I am an engineer despite being a faithful Catholic. They demand how someone whose job relies on facts and data can believe in God. They question how someone whose career requires rationality can do something so irrational as to declare that Catholicism is the fullness of truth. It actually makes perfect sense.

Faith Inspires
Like many other scientists and engineers throughout the ages, my faith actually draws me to the sciences. As I learn more and more about the world around me, there is that stirring within me that knows that there is something more. We are surrounded by a beautiful, nearly impossible world, and yet here we are. We see these mysteries unfold and connections being formed and improvements being made. There is something greater out there that caused all of this. There is something that all the science books, all the experiments in the world, all the brilliant scientists cannot put into words. There is a truth greater than all of this.

Truth is Not Limited to Science
Obviously, I love science (and math and problem solving), but I don’t think that the truth ends there. Unfortunately, more and more people in our society are succumbing to scientism: the idea that the only meaningful truths can be revealed through application of scientific methods. Though this is a self-refuting principle (by making this claim, you are asserting a truth that cannot be determined through the scientific method), I also just think that it is an incredibly disappointing thought process. Think of how limiting it would be to live in a world where truth was only dictated by what could be proven through science. We’d have no way of defining what is good or beautiful. Inside all of us, we know there is something beyond science. There are other meaningful truths out there that we long to embrace.

Solving for the Unknown
Now some people may concede to the aforementioned point that truth isn’t limited to science, but they may still argue it’s irrational to believe in God. They claim that there just isn’t enough out there to say one way or another. However, as an engineer, I am used to working with the information I have available to find answers.

I don’t know about colleges besides my own, but when we were assigned a problem, we’d write down the knowns and the unknowns.

From my perspective, we as Christians do something similar (I know I’m arguing philosophy not science here, but please bear with me).
Our unknowns are if God exists, and if so, is the Christian God the one, true God?

Our knowns are plentiful.

We know that the universe expanded from a singular point.

We know that a man named Jesus truly lived in Nazareth, was crucified, his body was buried, and he rose from the dead (there is no other reasonable explanation for the events that took place apart from the Resurrection).

We know that men were willing to risk their lives and faced horrific deaths while preaching that Jesus is the Messiah.

We know that the Church has existed for over 2,000 years and there are records from the early Church.

We know that the Bible has given us insight into civilizations that we hadn’t discovered and is one of the most reliable copies of manuscripts of all time.

We know there are miracles that cannot be defined by even the most advanced scientific procedures like the tilma with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Eucharistic miracles and that the Church is very rigorous in investigations of miracles.

And the list goes on and on and on including historically verifiable facts, happenings that cannot be explained by science, and personal experiences.

Do any of these prove undeniably the existence of God? No, but when you look at all the rich, beautiful, true information available, to me, the answer is clear.

So no, an infinite being has not appeared before me telling me He is God and Catholics have it right. But when I look at all the information available, it is actually less logical to persist in atheistic beliefs.

As an engineer, it would be irresponsible (and intellectually dishonest) for me to ignore vast amounts of data. As a human being, it would be irresponsible (and intellectually dishonest) for me to disregard the vast amounts of evidence supporting the existence of the Christian God.

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My faith inspires me to better explore the world around me. My experiences show me that truth is not limited to what can be proved scientifically. My career as an engineer has shown me to look at the available information to find the answer.

People ask me how I can be a faithful Catholic and an engineer. My question is how can I not?

 

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Kate Hendrick lives in Wisconsin with her husband and works full-time as a process engineer. Though Kate is a “cradle Catholic” she didn’t fully embrace the Catholic faith until mid-college. She discusses the challenges she and other young adults face as they try to live authentically Catholic lives on her blog Stumbling Toward Sainthood. You can also find her on TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.