As we wrap up the summer sessions, get a break to soak in the last bits of summer, and start the new fall semester at the very end of this very month, I have gotten down to the nitty-gritty of requirements to fulfill not only Montco Community College needs but also those of the general education courses at my intended university, West Chester, in the US state of Pennsylvania. As I get my associate degree from Montco in 2019, we hope to move forward and strive for a bachelor at West Chester.
So, as for my undergraduate major, I was trying to think would biology or chemistry would be the better option. I share a fairly equal passion for them, so that made the decision “Even Stevens,” and I thought it would be great to double major in those! After all, there’s overlap, for both majors share both introductory chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and Calculus I (which is already complete). As with most colleges, physics can be done with or without calculus, but the chemistry major requires the former; the biology major can go either way. I must also take Calculus II for this. Biology also requires statistics, which I hope can be done at Montco.
So let’s discuss the merits of both fields.
Chemistry is the “central science.” Everything else, perhaps physics aside, depends on it. However, physics, especially quantum mechanics, does provide the basis for certain chemical reactions, and a key area of chemistry, physical chemistry, elaborates on those affairs. But that’s for another post, which of course (if I do one as such) would be after I get the degree!
College curricula on chemistry are quite regimented, with only a few electives. Despite that strict sequence, chemistry itself is quite understated, and it takes faith to understand how the microscopic atoms and molecules change to form new visible and tangible substances out of former ones.
This “faith,” mind you, can be construed in two ways. For the irreligious, it is only the awareness of the differences between the conspicuous and inconspicuous. But, for a Christian believer like me, chemicals, their properties, and thereby their reaction patterns receive their identity because God created the organization of matter and how it should act. Remember, no scientific principles are perfect since God left that business up to us (Gen 1:28), and the exact truth may be God’s secret and thereby totally alien to our human understanding (Deut 29:29), so science and faith, pun intended, are really a match made in heaven.
As wonderful as chemistry is, biology is icing on its cake. Organisms (yes, including you) are undercover chemists themselves (even humans who don’t know jack about chemistry), thus all flora and fauna unwittingly keep themselves alive through their biochemical reactions performed in their cells. As we all know, plants and their cousins use photosynthesis to give food to themselves and consumers. And every single reaction in an organism has its own catalyst, known as an enzyme. And there is that thin line between life and non-life, which starts at the cell level. Very fascinating.
Some biological branches fascinate me more than others. Physiology is probably the most exciting of all, for it’s where all the action is! I also like ecology and genetics quite a bit (the latter involves some math to keep the mind sharp). Duller areas include anatomy/morphology (mere dissection and memorization of regions of organisms’ bodies) and systematics (comparing and contrasting organisms for identification). Biology, unlike chemistry, is typically a cafeteria science, so that you can take a generous potpourri of such courses unless you opt for a certain track that regiments your choices. As for me, I’d rather head to that cafeteria by taking the general lineup.
Alas, evolution rules the biological academic realm. Instead of a common creator (God), you have a common ancestor (which is undefined). While thorough coverage and debate on evolution/creation are beyond the scope of this post, I will say professors teach evolution early on, which is an irrational theory as it is, use it as a keystone for everything else in the curriculum. So serious Bible-believers who work in and/or study biology and other sciences must constantly “fight back” the evolutionary pressure in their own minds while simultaneously learning those same concepts as one who embraces evolution. After all, scientists with PhDs who are creationists (yep, they exist) must do the same thing, both as a student previously and a scientist presently.
So, why Biology and Chemistry?
As a matter of opinion, other natural sciences, like physics, astronomy, and the earth sciences (i.e., geology, oceanography, and meteorology), while decidedly interesting, are less intensely so than biology and chemistry. Yet chemistry and even biology tie in with them, so I’ll be ready in case I wish to study something of such later on informally or perhaps even formally.
Conclusion: Trust God for the Future
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Prov 3:5,6 ESV)
After college, whether I go to graduate school, straight to a career, or even change undergraduate majors, I currently leave it in God’s sovereign hands. And no, West Chester isn’t even a guarantee! As a Reformed (Presbyterian) Christian, I believe God is sovereign and we are to rest in his divine providence.
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is God’s gift, the “present!”