By CLIFF HAN
World War II was the most devastating and destructive war of all time. It all started when Adolph Hitler took power at a time when Germany was economically and politically unstable. He invaded Poland and made treaties with Italy and Japan to strengthen his ability to dominate the whole world and proceeded to murder 6 million Jews in what he called the “Final Solution”.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) was created when the world’s greatest scientists set out to create a weapon that would end Hitler’s plan and the untold ravages of war.
By bringing together scientists who were able to bring their unique and different minds together in rigorous ways to think, debate, and create, LANL was able to win World War II and the Cold War afterwards.
Decades later, LANL seems to have lost sight of the value of intellectual freedom and dissent. The latest example is that LANL asked its employees who choose not to be vaccinated because of their faith to quit their jobs or take unpaid leave on October 15.
First of all, this measure appears medically unnecessary, since the LANL vaccination rate is above 90 percent, which is well above the minimum rate to stop the uncontrolled circulation of COVID-19 in the laboratory. On top of that, I’m amazed that in a free will society over 90 percent of people choose to do the exact same thing no matter what. But what’s mind boggling is that the lab calls for 100% alignment or you get fired!
This kind of extreme and inflexible politics is not foreign to me. Growing up in a communist country, I witnessed and experienced long brainwashing and knew that people had their heads cut off when 100 percent consensus was not reached.
While an individual’s utopian wish to save every life can sometimes make him a hero, it is dangerous when an organization has a utopian policy of saving every life because the results come at the expense of the lives of others. In this case, the lives of hundreds of families will be turned upside down in such a short time.
Personally, I am not even anti-vaccine; I am fully vaccinated.
As a biologist and a Christian, I understand why people choose not to be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. Their choice came with certain risks, mainly (> 99%) for themselves. Taking a risky path is generally a rare behavior in any group and can lead to valuable contributions to society.
As a science-based organization, LANL should take the lead in protecting religious freedom
Because religion, especially Christianity, is the father of modern science. Modern science could not exist if there was no Christianity.
Let me explain. I was an atheist before I became a Christian. I experienced two stages of conversion, first emotional conversion and then rational conversion. Rational conversion occurred when I studied the history of modern science, Christianity, and other religions. My conclusion from this study is that modern science can only happen in a society that practices faith. In this short writing, I will briefly explain my main reasoning.
First, science and faith have something in common: a firm belief in an idea
Great scientific breakthroughs must begin with a firm belief in a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a theory that has not been verified. Checking a hypothesis requires effort, often a great deal of effort. The greater the effort, the stronger the belief. What is the difference between religious faith and the scientist’s faith in his hypothesis? Mentally, the two kinds of faith are not very different. They probably engage in fairly similar neurological pathways to maintain their faith.
Second, over the centuries, the Christian faith has strengthened our capacity for abstract and imaginative thinking. The human brain has great potential for growth, and it’s like a programmable computer that can be modified. How a brain develops depends on the stimulation it receives and the culture it is in.
A friend of mine in China told me many years ago, “I have nothing in my brain if I don’t speak. It’s all darkness when I close my eyes. He’s not unintelligent, but he grew up in a culture that says nothing happens after death, which limits the imagination to what people can see and touch.
Christianity has given people a reason to imagine a heavenly world that we cannot see, but it has also provided daily practices that expand our imaginations through teaching, reading, and prayer.
Third, Christianity has prepared a society that values the product of abstract thought.
Geniuses are born sporadically in the history of the whole world. Most of them withered before they were known or had the chance to accomplish anything. This is because great brains need a specific environment in order to thrive and become great minds. And this environment is made up of like minds who care, understand and appreciate each other.
This is why universities invite several academics studying related subjects to work together when starting a new area of research. These grouped super-spirits have arrived rarely, at random, across the world historically. Christianity changed the world by making society ready for great minds. The socially dominant Christian faith produced minds with an advanced capacity for abstract thinking en masse, as practitioners gathered regularly to read, sing, and discuss ideas together, pray, and reflect in private. These mental activities have enabled the spirits to be ready to take the fruit of a great reflection.
This is why the renaissance has occurred on all fronts of modern civilization, literature, music, art, philosophy, architecture and science. Readers were eager to read great scriptures. The listeners were silent for the masterpieces of music. People looking for a deeper meaning in life were ready to follow the philosophers. Art lovers ready to admire the large painting. Curious minds have been opened by the amazing explanation of scientists. Even people who used their intellect to challenge Christianity could not have done so without first being exposed to it and having their minds shaped by it.
After a thousand years of cultivating Christianity, the society at the time of the Renaissance was fertile ground for great minds to flourish. In all interactions, they enriched each other and propelled civilization forward.
In conclusion, this socio-psychological understanding of our civilization has given me an inner peace between Christianity and modern science. I hope that my experience can help you, TRIAD, and other curious minds to rethink your situations. Your church attendants are not your enemy to get rid of, rather they are your valuable asset. Treat your colleague who has faith gently. They are as important as everyone else. I believe that LANL will lose its advantage if it removes every employee with faith, because no good science can be done without a serious assumption.
I beg TRIAD, the head of the Lab: for the good of our company and the Lab, please treat your coworkers well with faith and keep them with you!
Editor’s Note: Cliff Shunsheng Han, Ph.D. in genetics, psychiatrist, physician, and Christian. He worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 22 years and most recently founded AllerPops Corp.