A talk with research chemist Patrick Young
Meet a leading scientist whose work has included research on the material used in space-age applications and the bullet-proof vest—and who believes the Bible from cover to cover.
In today’s violence-ridden times, television footage of police wearing bullet-proof (bullet-resistant is perhaps the more proper, but less used term) vests is familiar to many. Perhaps not everyone, though, knows that the bullet-proof material used in these vests is a synthetic fibre called Kevlar®, which is 10 times stronger than steel by weight. We recently spoke to a senior research scientist at DuPont, the makers of Kevlar®. Dr Patrick Young, though not the actual inventor of Kevlar® (that was a Dr Stephanie Kwolek), holds patents related to the processes of its manufacture.
He told us more about this fascinating material:
‘Its strength lies in its chemical structure. It is spun as a liquid crystal, forming a very rigid rod polymer, and when it’s oriented it’s very stiff. That particular characteristic plus the fact that it really has no melting point (in fact, it decomposes before it melts) gives it flame-retardant properties. It’s used a lot in aeroplanes for that reason, also in automobile brake and clutch pads. There are many different applications for Kevlar®, besides the one everyone thinks about — “bullet-proof” vests.’
Dr Young has extensively researched Kevlar’s® bullet-proof characteristics:
‘It is an interesting mechanism. Its chemical structure enables it to stop a bullet by flattening out and thus absorbing the impact energy.’
As pleased as Dr Young was to tell us of his work with bullet-resistant vests, it wasn’t long before the conversation turned to something he considers much more important—namely, having a bullet-resistant faith. This leading researcher speaks passionately of his concerns for the many people who do not understand the fundamental importance to Christianity of the Genesis creation account.
‘I run into many professing Christians who believe, for example, that “God used evolution to create”. I’m flabbergasted that they don’t understand that if you throw away Adam, the Fall and the original sin, then you throw away Jesus Christ and His reason for coming, and the whole thing falls like a house of cards.’
Patrick Young says:
‘I was taught evolution in high school, and though I was raised in a Christian environment, nobody was standing up and opposing it, so it was kind of just migrating into my mind and staying there.’
He says he probably dealt with this by:
‘trying not to think about it … there were many other things on my mind, going through school, studying chemistry. My training in Christianity was more of a “New Testament only thing, with emphasis mostly on Christian living. Thankfully, in the last 10–15 years, God has given me a hunger to go back into the Old Testament … and I now know that Genesis is crucial to understanding the Gospel.’
In his daily work, Patrick sees the hand of the Creator. He says:
‘The whole world of chemistry is a well-behaved world. If you understand the principles of it you can do a great deal to control it. To me, that’s evidence of design and a designer right there! If all that came about by chance (as evolutionists claim), I would not believe that the world of chemistry would be as well-behaved as it is.’
Dr Young’s comments are consistent with the thinking of the successful pioneer scientists, who believed that God is a God of order. Therefore, especially since we are made in God’s image, we should be able to understand the world to a substantial extent. (In fact, contrary to the common claims in the media and educational circles, this Christian/creationist view provided the very foundation of modern science — see Creationist Scientists) Dr Young affirms that his success in research chemistry is founded on this basic philosophy. And he is quick to acknowledge that for all man’s ingenuity and breakthroughs in developing high performance man-made fibres, they yet fall short of the God-designed ‘natural’ fibres such as spider silk. (See God’s webspinners give chemists free lessons)
We are often told that ‘no real scientist’ disbelieves in evolution. So we asked this leading chemist, a ‘real scientist’ by any definition, what he thought of the evolutionary idea of life evolving from lifeless chemicals in some primordial soup. He said, ‘I’ve read a great deal on that; it’s clearly a gross over-simplification to state that if some simulated lightning is put into a beaker and creates some amino acids, you are on the way to making life. One needs to realize that to go further from this point your experiment would need to have developed only certain specific types of amino acids, either the dextrorotatory (“right-handed”) or the laevorotatory (“left-handed”) type—and guess what?! That doesn’t happen—nobody has been able to do that, and so the “primordial soup” belief system has absolutely no scientific evidence to support it.’ (See also Questions and Answers, Origin of life).
Dr Young says:
‘Probably 90–95% of the people who tell me they believe in evolution, when I ask them to tell me why, they cannot do so. They can’t explain it in a scientific manner, but when they come across somebody who can explain Creation in a scientifically valid manner, they kind of just turn around and walk away.’
So why don’t more scientists, with all their education, recognize the fact of the Creator? Dr Young is forthright:
‘Most of the scientists I come across, I believe that they wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and see their god. I think there is a level of arrogance in the scientific community and that is probably the reason why they don’t have the belief system needed for God—because they would first have to crucify that arrogance.
‘The key to a person’s thinking stretches back to the foundations of their education’.
Dr Young is critical of the US public education system’s handling of the creation/evolution debate, which, he says, ‘attempts to brainwash children to go in a certain direction’, i.e. undermining the very foundations of Christianity.
Little wonder, says Dr Young, that so many Christians today are ineffective when it comes to sharing their faith. ‘The frozen chosen’ he calls them, sadly—paralyzed through a lack of understanding of the foundational truths of the Gospel.
To reinforce his point, Dr Young draws an analogy between being effective as a chemist and being effective as a Christian:
‘In chemistry, you need to first grasp the basic foundational principles. As a chemist, if I have that basic foundation of chemistry, then when I start actually doing the research, it’s that foundation that makes things so much easier, so I can be much more creative. So, too, with Christianity; to be effective one must have a sound understanding of the foundations—and that means understanding Creation and Fall and their relevance to the Gospel. Sadly, teaching on Genesis is generally very poor.’
But he is greatly heartened to see that Christians are beginning to wake up to the importance of this issue. He says:
‘I remember listening to Ken Ham in a seminar a few weeks ago; he did a phenomenal job on teaching a proper understanding of Genesis, and it was just amazing to see the number of people whose eyes were as big as saucers when they walked out of there! They said, "I really didn’t know that!" — and they had been Christians for years.’
As Dr Young affirms from his own experience, the effect of a fuller understanding of Genesis and the Gospel not only helps make one’s own faith more ‘bullet-proof’ but equips Christians with the confidence to go out and share the Good News with others, as the Lord commanded in Matthew 28:19–20.
He excitedly explains:
‘As far as I am concerned now, my basic role in life is to be someone who follows God and His purposes, and God has placed me in a unique position in my work. I travel a great deal, interact with many people, and am able to speak about certain things, so I find openings to talk about some things that may plant “Gospel seeds”?.
‘I’ve always told my wife that I have an interesting ministry flying in a passenger aircraft at high altitude because I’ve got a captive audience—they can’t go anywhere.’
At the end of our talk, Dr Young was warmly and spontaneously appreciative of the Answers in Genesis ministry. He said:
‘I believe it is something that needs to keep on happening. I’ll continue to cover the creation ministry in prayer because I believe you are at the front line of those who are proclaiming the Word of God, so the devil will definitely keep on attacking your marvellous work.’
We felt privileged to have spoken to a strong Christian, passionate about sharing his faith, who also happens to be one of the leading industrial research scientists in the world.