Editor’s note: Dr. Gauger is Director of Science Communication and a Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, as well as a Senior Research Scientist at Biologic Institute. She received her undergraduate degree from MIT, her PhD in biology from the University of Washington, and held a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. As part of our year-end request to readers to support Evolution News, the daily voice of the intelligent design movement, we asked her to comment on the journey that led to her current work with us.
In honor of this season of generosity and good cheer, I would like to offer a small story about providence. For those of you not familiar with the term, it is the idea that things often seem to come together unlooked-for, as if by design. Some would attribute this to confirmation bias. I prefer a different explanation.
Fourteen years ago I was a stay-at-home mom. I had elected to leave science to take care of my kids, one of whom was disabled. It had been ten years since I left science, and in the meantime I had not thought about it, in a professional sense. I figured there was no way I would be able to go back, having been gone so long.
Then two things happened. I began to have a recurring dream. In the dream, I was walking the halls of my old university, and knocking on my professor’s door, saying, “Please take me back. I know how to finish my research.” I had this dream over and over. Up until then I had never had a recurring dream.
Second, I became obsessed with the idea that there need not be a conflict between faith and science — in fact, that science pointed toward faith and not away. (Religious language, I know, but this is how it happened.) Evolution became a focus of this compelling interest.
I did some research to see if anyone else shared this strange interest. I discovered intelligent design — Mike Behe, Michael Denton, Phil Johnson, Jonathan Wells, Discovery Institute, and the Illustra videos. I was thrilled. Then I discovered that Discovery Institute was right in my own backyard.
With other scientists, I signed the Dissent from Darwin list. Then one providential day in 2004 a friend emailed me a weekly newsletter called Note Bene, which still today collects highlights from Evolution News. (I encourage you to subscribe to it; it’s free.) The newsletter described Steve Meyer’s recent publication, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” that appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. As a Wall Street Journal article told it, this stirred up considerable trouble for Smithsonian Institution evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg, who edited the paper.
I decided to sign up for said newsletter and signed my name, Ann Gauger, PhD, wondering what would happen. Very soon I received a phone call from a Discovery Institute staffer. I sent in my résumé, and within a few weeks I was being interviewed by Steve Meyer, Jonathan Wells, and Jay Richards. They asked me about my research experience. I was puzzled — wasn’t Discovery Institute a think tank? Didn’t they want me to write a book?
What I did not know was that Doug Axe had just returned from Cambridge, in England, and was going to be setting up a lab here in the Seattle area. Doug asked me to join the newly named Biologic Institute, and work with him to get the lab started. In 2007 we were joined by others, including the same Richard Sternberg, who had been forced out of the Smithsonian over the Meyer article. The rest is history.
I can count numerous times since then when seeming coincidences have occurred, where my research in the past has proved relevant to the present. It’s as if there was a plan.
I want to invite you to be part of this plan, which I have called providential. As the year draws to a close, I ask you to add your support to the Center for Science & Culture and Evolution News. Without you, none of this would be possible. We are grateful to all those who have given in the past. But our outreach, educational programs, and research for the future depend on generous donors like you. If it is possible, please consider making a year-end gift now. And thank you!
Photo: Ann Gauger in “The Problem with Theistic Evolution,” via Crossway.