Summer 2016

Christianity Under a Microscope

Molecular biologist Anjeanette ‘AJ’ Roberts (M.A. ’15) explores hard questions about faith and science

By Laurie Bullock

As a college student, Anjeanette “AJ” Roberts wanted to dig deeper into the unknown. At the time, that meant viruses. While studying chemistry during her undergraduate years at the University of Tulsa, the mystery of viruses captured her fascination and prompted her eventual Ph.D. work in molecular biology and virology at the University of Pennsylvania and her postdoctoral work in viral pathogenesis at Yale University.                                                                      

“I wanted to participate in work that would help suffering,” Roberts said. “I knew that knowing how viruses work on a biological level helps alleviate pain.”

After completing her graduate work, Roberts worked in Samara, Russia, lecturing on risks and prevention strategies for the HIV and AIDS viruses. She also worked for a time as a staff scientist for the National Institutes of Health and as an assistant professor in microbiology, immunology and cancer biology at the University of Virginia.

A recent graduate of Biola’s master’s program in Christian apologetics, Roberts is intentional about engaging her colleagues in conversations about faith and science.

“I’m with colleagues who are hostile in some cases because they believe that faith hinders science progression and criticism,” she said. “I like to put Christianity under a microscope and tell them to explore the evidence deeper.”

Her interest in apologetics came after attending a national Christian apologetics conference, which she said was was her first experience with apologetics that was practiced with an ethos of humility and truth-seeking.

“I realized it was exactly what I wanted to do,” Roberts said. “It was important to know how to address those kinds of questions for everyone, whether they were completely unbelieving or skeptical.”

One of the ways Roberts addresses her colleagues’ questions about Christianity is through the Alpha Course, a program that is designed to answer questions and facilitate conversation with unbelievers and skeptics regarding Christianity. She is also a research scholar for Reasons to Believe and travels frequently to speak on the integration of science and faith.

“One thing I like to emphasize is that both science and faith are trying to gain knowledge and truth,” Roberts said. “We need to maintain humility to encourage people to put that at the front of their conversations. If we are Christ followers, we know that we don’t know everything extraordinarily, so we should approach everything with intellectual humility and spiritual humility.”

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  • Melissa Laurin Burt.. September 20, 2016 at 6:52 AM

    Thank you so much for this intelligent,faithful and true reveal. I love apologetics. PS: I have a senior at Biola,Sylvia Clegg. I love your school and academic straight based msg.

  • Allen Joyce Engel September 21, 2016 at 11:02 AM

    I am also interested in Geology as it relates to the flood and the scriptures.

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