"For the Health of the Nation" and Engineering Profession?

From: by way of Joe Carson <jpcarson@tds.net>
Date: Wed Nov 30 2005 - 15:21:46 EST

Dear ASA listserv,

If anyone is interested in participating in developing a theology of
engineering that addresses whether/to what degree Christian engineers
should intentionally and collectively influence their profession,
please feel free to contact me at <president@christianengineer.org>.

I hope the participants to creating a viable theological basis for
the Affiliation of Christian Engineers might receive up to
$100,000.00 in compensation for their time and talents, reflecting
the risk they may never be compensated and it will likely be years
before any compensation is made. I believe in stewardship, the
Affiliation of Christian Engineers is a professional society, not a
church or ministry. Its dues are not tax-deducible. Mel Gibson made
200 million dollars from his movie, I do not begrudge him, he created
something of value people voluntarily supported. Ditto if the
revenue stream of the Affiliation of Christian Engineers permits
anyone to get any compensation from this project.

Joe Carson, P.E.
Knoxville, TN

***********************************

November 21, 2005

Rev. Ted Haggard, President
National Association of Evangelicals
<http://www.nae.net>
<admin@nae.net>

Re: Applying the Method of "For the Health of the Nation" to the
Engineering Profession?

Dear Pastor Haggard,

I am an individual member of NAE. I am, by vocation, a licensed
professional engineer (P.E.) with 30 years experience in nuclear
technology - weapons, power, and other.

I am a deeply concerned engineer and Christian. Simply put, there is
no collective and intentional Christian influence in the engineering
profession; there never has been one (at least in modern history of
profession in America, since around 1850); there is no theology that
addresses whether or to what degree there ought to be one; and there
is no viable organizational vehicle to facilitate its development and
expression.

My profession is arguably mankind's largest and most global, with 20
million degreed members around world, holding essential
responsibilities for the design, construction, operation, and
maintenance of mankind's "built" environment (I suggest the "built"
environment is now part of "common grace" for mankind, given our
individual and collective dependence on it) as well as stewardship
for the natural environment.

 From my long-time experience as concerned engineer and multiple-time
"prevailing" whistleblower in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) -
indirectly involving the safeguards and security of America's nuclear
weapon stockpile, which is under DOE's sole custody - I have good
grounds to contend my profession's implementation of its code of
ethics is "in the ditch" in significant ways. I suggest the recent
levee failure in New Orleans is tangibly illustrates my concerns
about my profession's ethics.

As I understand the theological method and justification for the NAE
paper "For the Health of the Nation"
<http://www.nae.net/images/civic_responsibility2.pdf>, it can be
derived from (among other places) the phrase of the Lord's prayer,
"thy will be done, on earth as in heaven..." Consistent with that
biblical direction, NAE commissioned a team of theologians and others
from body of Christ to collectively and intentionally seek God's will
for modern society, with its complex mediating institutions, as well
as for the Christians who are active agents within them; the team's
results have been documented and disseminated by NAE; and NAE now
encourages and equips Christians to intentionally, individually and
collectively, influence society's institutions, as they are
positioned to do so, to advance God's will in and through them.

Certainly, this is consistent with Christ's "cultural commission" to
his disciples - that they be salt and light in their spheres of
influence. Two presuppositions of the "cultural commission" are: 1)
society's various institutions would benefit by such preservative and
corrective influences, and 2) Christ's disciples could be effectual
in providing it. Absent such reasoning, "For the Health of the
Nation" appears nonsensical.

I am trying to copy (rather shamelessly, I really am a "good"
engineer!) that method in application to the engineering
profession. Unfortunately, there is no direct model - I have
reviewed and communicated with principles in other auxiliary
Christian professional societies as Christian Legal Society,
Christian Medical and Dental Association, the American Scientific
Affiliation, Geographa, and International Christian Chamber of
Commerce and determined that none of them consciously seek to be
organizational vehicles to ascertain, document, and influence to
advance God's will in and through their respective professions or
businesses. These organizations, as their secular counterparts,
basically have a "member service" paradigm, instead of an "ascertain,
document, and influence to advance God's will" paradigm.

I co-founded and now lead the Affiliation of Christian Engineers
<http://www.christianengineer.org> . It has been incorporated for
over 5 years, but it is, at best, an early stage startup. There
have been two major obstacles to its viability - one technical, the
other theological. The technical obstacle - social networking
software with sufficient functionality and low enough cost - seems
overcome. But the theological obstacle - a clear affirmation of the
contention that Christian engineers should intentionally and
collectively influence their profession - remains to be
addressed. If this theological obstacle can be overcome, there is no
technical, political, or economic reason to prevent the organization
from having 500,000+ members, worldwide, by 2010.

For over six months now, I have been conscientiously trying to
assemble a small team (8-12) of engineers, theologians, and others to
collectively and intentionally seek God's will for the engineering
profession and its Christian members and document the results. I
have been singularly unsuccessful, to date, in attracting any
significant interest from any theologians, even with offers of very
generous compensation for their time and talents, if and when the
Affiliation of Christian Engineers become viable. So we are, in
engineering parlance, still "at top dead center", leading me to
reach out to you, in the hope that you or others at NAE can point me
to someone with some theological training willing and able to apply
the method of the "For the Health of the Nation" to the engineering profession.

I suggest a collective and intentional Christian influence in the
engineering profession would be beneficial, if not essential, to
advancing the goals of the "For the Health of the Nation," in areas
as peacemaking, human rights, protecting God's creation, and
eliminating poverty.

I have attached an op-ed I recently co-authored with Michael Horowitz
of the Hudson Institute, a well-known human rights activist on
"Engineers, Terrorism, and the Spread of Democracy" (also at
<http://www.nspe.org/etweb/10805viewpoint.asp>. Absent a collective
and intentional Christian influence in the engineering profession, I
am not hopeful its espoused objectives will be adopted. With one, I
think they readily would be.

Respectfully,

Joe Carson, P.E.
President, Affiliation of Christian Engineers
president@christianengineer.org
10953 Twin Harbour Drive
Knoxville, TN 37934
865-300-5831

copy:

Rev. Bill Hamel, Chairman, NAE Board
Rev. Rich Cizik, VP Government Affairs, NAE

Attachment:

"Viewpoint" Op-ed from August/September 2005 issue of "Engineering
Times," monthly publication of the National Society of Professional Engineers

this letter in pdf format
Received on Wed Nov 30 15:24:55 2005

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