Visualising Creation: The Joys of being a Christian Anatomist

Kirsty Earley 18 Mar 19

When people ask me what I do for a living my response usually involves looking at my watch and letting out an enormous sigh. "How much time do you have?", I ask.

Now don't get me wrong, I love my job, but it isn't the easiest to explain. I wish I could say I was a teacher or doctor or firefighter because then people would immediately know how I spend my 9-5. Unfortunately, saying that you work in medical visualisation doesn't have the same effect.

Medical visualisation is a rather new field of work where medical data, e.g. patient cases, are communicated through digital visual means. This could be by 3D animations, illustrations, augmented reality, or VR gaming. This is what I do. I make digital media products in order to communicate medicine.

How did I get here? Well, my background is in anatomy, the study of the human body. For 5 years I poured over textbooks detailing the details of the bones, muscles, organs of the human body, how they all fit together and how they all worked together to get you from A to B. And I loved it. I still love it. It's an absolute passion of mine, which sounds incredibly creepy.

The human body never ceases to amaze me. How the heart is structured to simultaneously pump deoxygenated blood to the lungs and oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. How bones can heal themselves over time with their regenerative cells. How the brain controls our whole physical being. The brain is definitely my favourite organ, and, yes, every anatomist has a favourite organ. We only know a small percentage of how the brain actually works and is structured, and that is absolutely mind-blowing to me, (pun intended).

The human body is magnificent and beautiful, its inner workings will always baffle me.

Where does my faith fit into all of this? Or, how does my faith fit into all of this? How can I possibly be a Christian and a scientist?

I wasn't brought up in a Christian family, however I grew up in a city where you either went to Mass or Church on a Sunday whether you believed it or not. I've always had an inquisitive mind, wanting to know the answers to everything, (I have been told by my mother on several occasions that I was a very annoying child). So when it came to God, I questioned it all. I challenged what I was hearing and compared it to what other people were saying about life. I looked at the evidence and came to the most rational conclusion, just as scientists do in their respective fields. My conclusion was this; God was real, Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, and we are only saved through Him. It was at 17, during my fresher year, that I decided to actively follow Jesus.

It hasn't always been easy to combine the two- there have been many times where it seemed that my faith was at odds with science. During my final year as an undergraduate, I was on the committee of the university Christian Union and I was really struggling with the rationality of Christianity. Specifically, I was struggling with the concept of miracles. The Gospels are full of miracle accounts and it felt like I had blindly believed them up to that point, blindly believed that these things were possible. Miracles went against everything that I had spent the last four years studying- the laws of nature, the realm of things that could be scientifically proven. If miracles couldn’t be understood through science then surely the claims of Christianity couldn’t be true?

I talked to a good friend about my thoughts and my worry that my faith was based on irrational claims. He listened to me patiently and after my rant simply said, “Kirsty, that’s why they are called miracles- they can’t be understood by science.”

Just because science can’t explain something doesn’t mean that it’s not true. There are so many things in the world that science will never be able to comment on because they are not scientific concepts. Science can only explain the things of nature, material things. The how’s of the universe, but not the whys. Science can’t give us all the answers about life and it was never meant to.

As a Christian, studying anatomy convinces me more of God's sovereignty in this world. However the universe came to be, however long it took, God was behind it and as a result behind the structure of the human body. And being able to study this science has been an absolute blessing. God has given us the joy of discovery through science and has given us science to better understand his masterpiece and its purpose.

What a joy.