Dr. Greathouse grew up (mostly) in a small town in Texas, Nacogdoches, as an only child of two loving parents from southern baptist families. Here she also attended Stephen F. Austin State University. After earning her B.S. in Food Science and Nutrition, she decided to continue her education in Exercise and Sports Nutrition at Texas Woman's University. It was during this time that she experienced a life changing event that would not only alter her career path but give her a new purpose.
No one expects to be diagnosed with cancer at the age of 24, but like the famous quote from Forrest Gump says "life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get". During this time she faced a turing point in her life, she could either look at this event as a burden or as an opportunity. Though she was only given a 40% chance of survival she experienced, what she could only conclude given her religious background, an all knowing (Holy Spirit) feeling of complete peace and that of survival past this event. She took from this experience a new sense of purpose and strength. Without a doubt she knew that she must share her story and take on the challenge to prevent others from developing cancer, a purpose she felt she was saved specifically to fulfill.
Upon completion of her treatment and masters degree she pursued a PhD in molecular carcinogenesis at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and University of Texas Houston Health Science Center. While she was conducting research, she met two scientists who would inspire her to write this book. During graduate school she watched two of her close colleagues who came from very similar backgrounds choose two separate paths. One became Catholic and the other remained agnostic. This drove her to the central question: "Why do some scientists choose to become believers and others agnostic or atheistic during their scientific careers?".
Dr. Greathouse passionately believes that by sharing the stories of scientists who have become believers or spiritual, and of those who have rebuked their early beliefs, that we can find common ground and new avenues for dialogue to help heal the rift that has plagued science and religion for millennia.
Merlin Merritt grew up in a Christian family in the 1950s in Fort Worth Texas. His formative years were shaped by friends, family, and his involvement in a local Baptist church. For Merlin, religion and church was not about following a set of rules and attending church, but about having a good time, playing pranks, and enjoying sports, movies, cars, and camps.
While working on his engineering degree at the University of Texas in Arlington in the early 60s, Merlin was challenged by President John F. Kennedy’s “put a man on the moon” speech to be part of the US’s new space program. Upon completion of his BS in Electrical Engineering in 1964, Merlin joined the NASA team at the Johnson Space Center in Houston with a position in Mission Operations. While at NASA in the 60s and 70s, Merlin was part of the engineering team for the Gemini and Apollo programs, which culminated in the lunar landing missions. In 1969, the year of the first lunar landing, Merlin was married to the former Shirley Clark. During the well-known Apollo-13 mission, Merlin was on console when the Apollo-13 crisis happened and was a part of the team that developed the procedures for the Lunar Module rescue of the crew. As a part of that experience, Merlin’s faith was strengthened as he witnessed several apparent miracles in response to prayer concerning the life threatening experiences of the astronauts. After Apollo, Merlin transitioned to the Skylab program where he was part of the Payloads team that engineered and operated various experiments studying solar, cosmic radiation, and earth sciences. This was an exciting area for scientific advancement at the time, as the Mission Operations Control team and associated scientists were on the cutting edge of science and engineering development. After the Skylab program, Merlin transitioned to the shuttle astronaut-training program where he was in charge of Shuttle systems and payload training.
It was while at NASA among various engineers and scientists that Merlin’s faith was challenged. Challenged by apparent biblical and scientific discrepancies, he began an intensive personal research study to authenticate and harmonize the Bible with modern scientific findings. As a result of studies and support of various Christian scientists and engineers, this was a very positive and rewarding experience. Interestingly enough during Merlin’s formative studies many new ideas were surfacing in which scientists and theologians were developing collaborative ideas and theories that seemed to harmonize the Bible and scientific findings. Based on these findings and a desire to further his theological education, Merlin pursued and completed a Masters in Religious Education at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1994 while still working at NASA. After 28 years with NASA, Merlin took early retirement and took a position as Minister of Education with the Heritage Park Baptist Church in Houston. This allowed him the opportunity to continue to develop his biblical and scientific research while teaching others in the art of teaching and educational pedagogy. Also during this time, Merlin’s interest in academic teaching was reinforced as he also taught biblical studies part time at the local San Jacinto College.
In 1994, Merlin and his wife Shirley left the Houston area and moved north of San Antonio where Merlin continued his academic teaching career as an adjunct professor at the Baptist University of the Americas teaching math, theological and religious education courses. Based on his life-changing experience of the Apollo-13 mission and ensuing life experiences, Merlin has had the opportunity to speak at various schools, universities, churches, and para-church organizations sharing his journey of faith and science not only in Texas, Louisiana, and North Carolina, but also in various settings in several Central and South American countries. For Merlin, God has been the prime mover in all his life experiences since early childhood, and he now wishes to share his findings with future generations.