Thinking Out Loud

July 8, 2016

Engineering and Denominations

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:29 am

Christian DenominationsHaving an engineer in the family is a whole new experience. Kid One graduated a few years back in Electrical Engineering (he’s technically an EIT right now), but Kid Two, Mrs. W. and I are more of an artsy bunch. So the learning curve has been steep.

Wikipedia lists several branches:

  • Chemical (including sub-disciplines of Molecular, Bio-molecular, Materials, Process and Corrosion)
  • Civil (including Environmental, Geo-technical, Structural, Mining, Transport and Water Resources)
  • Electrical (including Computer, Electronic, Optical and Power; the latter possibly including Nuclear, which was offered at his campus)
  • Mechanical (including Acoustical, Manufacturing, Thermal, Sports, Vehicle, Power Plant and Energy)
  • Software (Computer Aided, Cryptographic, Teletraffic and Web)
  • Systems (an interdisciplinary field)
  • Interdisciplinary (Aerospace, Agricultural, Applied, Biological, Biomedical, Building Services, Energy, Railway, Industrial, Mechatronics, Management, Military, Nano-engineering, Nuclear, Petroleum, Textile)

I love a good analogy, and if you read today’s title or you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know exactly where I’m going with this: The similarity between the branches or disciplines of engineering and the various denominations which exist in Christianity.

I’m tempted to try to create a similar list as the one above, complete with some sub-sections in brackets to break down the finer points of each, but I think readers here are familiar enough with the range of churches which exist.

So here’s the lead-up to the question…

…I think that my eldest son would agree that the branches of engineering have a few things in common. Probably the overarching methodology (whatever is the practical equivalent of the scientific method) is the same in all. I’m sure they also take some of the same electives, including engineering ethics. I’m sure that the various branches cooperate with each other on major projects.

But he would also argue that the branches are also very different. He knows a little of Civil Engineering from his project in Haiti, and might have a rudimentary understanding of Chemical Engineering; but his school also offered Automotive Engineering, and I doubt he feels qualified to even begin designing a car or truck.

The question is: Do the various branches of Christianity have more in common than they have in differences?

In terms of a creed or statement of faith, you would probably say yes.

In terms of the portability of membership, the way people change churches these days also implies more commonality.

So perhaps, as with so many analogies, this one doesn’t line up perfectly.

But just as it would be impossible for my Electrical Engineering son to practice Chemical Engineering, it would be very difficult for me as an Evangelical to understand all things Episcopal. It is very much another world.

But I’m thankful the analogy doesn’t work. I’m glad that we do hold more things in common than the things we don’t.

We have Jesus, his resurrection, our atonement, God’s word, the Holy Spirit, the expectation of Christ’s return, the promise of eternal life.


Just so we’re clear, Wikipedia didn’t list all those engineering branches in a copy-and-paste-able form, so I had to type all those big words by myself.


A year ago at Christianity 201, we looked at a different way of expressing our core beliefs. Check out Knowing What You Believe.

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