loren Eric Swanson: My friend Mark

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My friend Mark

Yesterday I drove down to Berkeley to have lunch with my best buddy when I was in Junior High School--Mark Tanouye (http://ecnr.berkeley.edu/facPage/dispFP.php?I=640). Mark and I played football and wrestled together at Mango Junior H.S. in Sunnyvale and for one semester at Fremont H.S. in Sunnyvale before my family moved to Stockton. Last year Mark tracked me down via Cal's alumni association and I'm so glad he did. After High School, Mark graduated from Stanford, got his Ph.D. from Yale, taught at Cal Tech before accepting a teaching job at Cal. He is currently a prof in the Biology Department along with being the assistant chair of the department. Mark has received several awards for his research and teaching and is the type of guy one just enjoys hanging out with. Here he is explaining that my genome sequence and that of the fruitfly have a 70% match--barely above 2nd cousins once removed!

Because I wanted to learn more of what Mark did, he showed me around his lab and let me in on a bit of the work he is engaged in. It was facinating. Mark and his team are currently working on chemical combinations that raise the threshold of seizure, which is fundamental for breakthroughs with people who suffer from epilepsy. In this film clip one of Mark's graduate assistants is applying an electric shock to a fruitfly in order to trigger a seizure. Oops looks like THAT drug didn't work. Mark loves his work--the work of discovery--to figure out how God has structured life.

In past times Christians were at the forefront of science, believing they were discovering, through their research, the very manner, mind and methods of God. We would do well to heed the words of Saint Augustine set in fourth century:
"If it happens that the authority of Sacred Scripture is set in opposition to clear and certain reasoning, this must mean that the person who interprets Scripture does not understand it correctly. It is not the meaning of Scripture which is opposed to the truth but the meaning he wanted to give to it."[1]

More recently the great Presbyterian theologian of the 19th century, Benjamin B. Warfield wrote:
"We must not, then, as Christians, assume an attitude of antagonism toward the truths of reason, or the truths of philosophy, or the truths of science…. None should be more quick to discern truth in every field, more hospitable to receive it, more loyal to follow it, whithersoever it leads."[2]

[1] Meachum, Jon. “The God Debate” Newsweek, April 9, 2007 p. 57
[2] Collins, Francis S. The Language of God. Free Press. New York (2006) p. 179

In 1987 Mark and his wife Ellen began a spiritual journey with Jesus Christ and a couple of years ago attended a church-planter training and helped with a church plant in Lodi. (http://www.stpaullodi.org/mod/church-staff/about.php?staff_id=100005)


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