Interviewing Physics Professor Christine DoneAdrian Holloway on February 10, 2018 with 0 Comments
I so enjoyed interviewing Durham University Physics Professor Christine Done last night at Exeter University. I’d seen her lecture on “Gravity, Black Holes and Ultimate Reality” at Cambridge last year, and I was completely taken aback by her dynamism. I was so delighted that she agreed to fly down from Newcastle and join us at the final event of “More than this.” With a PhD in Astrophysics from Cambridge University, she told how she went on to work for NASA controlling instruments and experiments from Maryland on the Space Shuttle in the 1980s. “You were a rocket scientist?” I asked “Yes,” she replied. At this point I kind of forgot myself and exclaimed: “Oh wow! That is so cool!” She began by explaining that people usually expect a Physics Prof Chris Done to be a Christopher. She said that it all started when as a child she aspired to emulate Dr Spock, the Science Officer on the USS Enterprise. And how she took easily to atheism as a worldview. She assumed that being a Scientist and being an atheist was all part of the same thing. She actively argued against Christians. When invited to a friend’s baptism service, she took the Vicar to task afterwards and pointed out where he was going wrong. She explained how his question: “Who do you think Jesus was?” began a long process that led to her turning to Christ. She said that her answer: “Well I suppose he was a good moral teacher” turned out to be “a really bad answer” and with a remorseless logic and a scientist’s sifting of the evidence, she began a journey that led to her reluctantly admitting defeat. “GRRRR! You exist!” she said to God in perhaps the most grudging sinner’s prayer I’ve ever heard described. In fact it wasn’t even a prayer, it was more about coming to terms with being wrong and acknowledging that God was God. It was echoes of C S Lewis in 1930, the “most reluctant convert in all England.” Chris explained to us that the evidence for the resurrection resulted in her conversion. “I didn’t want it to be true.” But it’s hard to argue against Chris now. She runs Alpha Courses in her home for Emmanuel Church, Durham, and is married to one of the elders there! I tried to tackle her on whether there was life on other planets and also casually asked how the world would end and whether heat death fitted in with the return of Jesus, but time had gone. I then launched into my final talk and a superb week was at an end. I thank God for answered prayers because Exeter students responded by saying yes to Christ “count me in” each day at lunch and at all the evening events I spoke at during the week. Adding up all the ones and twos from the many different events, we had a total of 17 people who are not church, and not part of the Christian Union who said: “count me in” and an additional 28 who said they’d “like to know more” from the events I spoke at. In terms of how it all went, looking back now if felt like one of the best events weeks I’ve ever been involved in. A massive well done and huge thanks to all the guys at Exeter University Evangelical Christian Union, and especially Sarah Diamond who organised it all so brilliantly.