What's With All the Engineers?

(Ben Carmack) #1

In a recent post, it was noted, “Maybe the majority of men who have been supportive of Warhorn’s work over the years are engineers (computer and otherwise) and coders. I’ve considered various explanations for why this is the case, but here I simply note it.”

As a structural engineer myself, and a supporter of Warhorn’s work, I thought it may be helpful to explore what’s with all the engineers?

I have some ideas, but I won’t type them. I’m more interested in what others say.

(Josiah) #2

I’m not active in the hard sciences world today, but I do have a math and computer science degree. An exposure to the hard sciences reminds you that there are fixed absolutes, no matter what we might like to think in our wishy-washy world. I figure reformed theology tends to attract those who like systematic thought as well, although I’ve gravitated a lot more to the Biblical Theology emphasis myself. I’d say my primary encouragement from the Warhorn crew has been their unapologetic stance on Godly sexuality.

(Jason Andersen) #3

Network engineer here. I got nothing. :slight_smile:

(Lucas Weeks) #4

Objective standards? That’s my best guess.

(Isaiah Taylor) #5

Software engineer here. I’m not sure about the Warhorn following; I’m up in Moscow, and although there are some engineers, they’re not the majority. I wonder how the differences between the Moscow/ wilson/ Christ Church message and the Warhorn message affect that makeup.

It could also just be regional. Not too many coders in the Pacific Northwest. There were a ton of coders and engineers in the Presbyterian circle in colorado, but colorado is an engineering hotspot.

This reminds me of when I read “Do Hard Things” when I was younger and joined the Internet forum for it after reading. I was dismayed to see that about 90% were of the participants were female. Something about that message must have been feminine; or maybe just something about joining forums ¯_(ツ)_/¯

(Daniel Meyer) #6

Aw c’mon Ben, give us your theory!

My theory is: Christian engineer* goes bumping along through life tracking details; people tell him he’s smart and has a sharp mind (and far be it from him to disagree!) – but oddly those smarts seem to apply almost entirely to work-related details; meanwhile the discipleship of his wife and children is a mystery to him that he has not yet grasped.

But it’s not simply that he hasn’t yet found his stride in his work with his family; more than that, he sees that the work is difficult – even beyond him – and he implicitly avoids the work. He thinks he’s a smart guy because of the technical things he knows how to do at work; but he fails to see that his technical work is much simpler and more bounded than the work of discipleship he’s called to as husband and father. In other words, he’s been priding himself on doing the easy work while neglecting the harder work. He doesn’t bother washing his wife in the Word, either; he reasons that this responsibility doesn’t apply to him because his wife seems more spiritual than he. She’s a stronger vessel, nothing there to protect!

He is a wicked, lazy slave.

Anyway, one day he stubs his mind on a Principle (such as that a man should lead his wife and family; or that he should discipline his children; or that some part of the Word of God he had always ignored is true and authoritative and is to be obeyed; or head coverings). Having no idea how to evaluate a conviction or how to integrate it with anything else; not being in the habit of talking things over with anyone (he’s always been more comfortable in the company of details than people, after all); and it not occurring to him that there is any other faithful way to proceed, he takes this as his One Principle and abruptly proceeds in a straight line off in the direction of his half-baked (quite raw and doughy, really) new conviction until he causes a big enough mess that he realizes that something is wrong. (Perhaps his wife realized something was wrong quite a bit sooner but he dismissed her criticism as off-topic or erroneous or faithless without understanding it.)

The man begins searching for help–for guidance from a spiritual father. He starts asking awkward questions at small group; he pesters his pastor; he appeals to his elders; he searches internet forums and blogs, conferences, area churches; he reads; he listens to sermons; he fasts and prays. But to say he needs help in how to apply the things he hears and reads to his situation is an understatement: he is unable to proceed. He needs a pastor.

For me it was Pastor Joseph Bayly who over the course of months said things like, “Your principle of leading and discipling your wife and kids is right, but every aspect of how you’ve gone about implementing this is wrong” (from not explaining anything to my wife, to making sudden and abrupt changes and then changing back that made it difficult for her to feel that there was any steady place for her to trust in my leadership…etc…etc…)

Pastors who fear God and tell me God’s no. What a joy and blessing! That’s how engineer me came in; I doubt I’m unique.

*Engineer: a man with a keen ability to see and manage 1,000 details and an equally keen difficulty distinguishing important from unimportant details – they all look equally important to him!


(b3k) #7

Intel is headquartered in Oregon. Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, Dropbox, and Valve are based in the Seattle area. Facebook and Google are part of a score of other major tech companies with major offices in the Seattle area.

I’ve always thought that science and engineering types were drawn to things like Warhorn Media because, when we see things that don’t make sense, it’s harder to let go. I was raised in a more Arminian/dispensational/fundamentalist background, but I couldn’t deal with Ephesians 1 and I couldn’t find the pre-trib Rapture. A scientist can’t just take the answer he’s given. He has to check the work.

Likewise, in high school and college I could see enough to know that feminism is wrong. Standard complementarianism isn’t much different. And, no matter how many times I’ve heard a complementarian sermon exegeting Ephesians 5 to show mutual submission and tie-breaking authority, I’ve never been able to re-work the problem from my notes. Like the dispensationalist Rapture, it’s just not there.

(Chris Everling) #8

Another Software Engineer here. Thanks for sharing, Daniel. So much of this resonated with me.

I stumbled across Warhorn Media in a pursuit much like this. The articles and podcasts were incredibly helpful, and I appreciated their fearlessness in going after the idols of our day. Similar to your story, correction and teaching from my Pastor (Josh Knipp) is what ultimately led me out of the spiral. His commendation of Pastor Bayly and Warhorn encouraged me to stick around here, and what a blessing it has been!


(Isaiah Taylor) #9

@b3k I should have said “Inland Northwest” to exclude Seattle; it’s two different worlds. There really are very few coders in Idaho.

(Joseph Bayly) #10

It’s not just regional because Warhorn’s support comes from all over the world, just like the users on this site. Also, because Bloomington doesn’t have much of a coder presence and engineers aren’t particularly common either I don’t think. Maybe I’m wrong about Bloomington.

I suspect that your guess about message is more on target. I’d probably modify it to include something about the culture or style of the message.

Touché. I hope you’re wrong, because we’re about 90% male here and that would say a lot about us. Lol.

Also, you missed another potential reason for the high percentage of women on that forum: desire to find a good husband. If it attracted the kind of young men who were actually willing to do hard things it would be a great spot to look.

Also, if memory serves there are very few of anything in Idaho given the population.

(Tim Bayly) #11

Thank you for the honor of your friendship and co-laboring Daniel. Love,

(Ben Carmack) #12

Ok, Ok. I’ll lay out what I think is going on.

I really like what Daniel Meyer said, but what I’m about to say will be more sociological, which means trigger warning I’ll be doing a lot of stereotyping.

Engineers support Warhorn because Warhorn is Reformed, and Reformed churches contain lots of engineers. Engineers tend to be beta men more so than alpha men, in the sense that they are more comfortable with details than big picture stuff. As such, they are not suited to lead men, but are suited to follow big picture alpha men and help them implement their vision.

Engineers tend to be professional men. They have college degrees. Civil engineers like me have to be licensed with the state. Professional men are a kind of priestly class in modern society. You’re a professional if you have a license, you went to college, you earn a salary, and you don’t fear the prospect of your work being being outsourced to China or done by illegal immigrants. You are part of a union that isn’t called a union but rather a professional society.

Because of their beta status, but also because the level of the their education tends to be strictly undergraduate and intensely technical, engineers are behind lawyers, doctors, musicians, artists, New York Times editors, professors and others possessing the Terminal Degree in Reformed churches. As such, engineers are respected, but there’s a pecking order. Graduate education > undergraduate education. Arts > Sciences. Science > Engineering. Software engineers have gained some prestige in recent years as culture makers and shapers, but engineers who manage factory floors or inspect rusty steel beams don’t quite have that same prestige.

Engineers tend to be mostly men, and work around and for men. As a civil/structural guy, I’m on the phone a lot with contractors and blue collar men who discipline me by informing me that my drawings suck and I don’t know what I’m talking about. There’s something very male about that. It forces you to realize that men build things. Men solve problems. Men rib each other and they aren’t always nice about it. Even for engineers, the truth of sex is OBVIOUS in our day to day work.

When engineers read Warhorn, I suspect many of them read about the truth of sex and it seems intuitive to them. That makes them liable to support the work.

Engineers are not sophisticated in their reading. They get very little liberal arts in school. They’re not all that well read, nor are many of them all that interested in books, art, culture. Warhorn writes plainly and simply, so they like it.

Being unsophisticated means you are not liable to worry overmuch about What Others Think. By Others, I mean the New York Times. Wheaton College. Covenant Seminary. The Gospel Coalition. Engineers are bad at politics because they don’t do subtlety and social cues.

Engineers support Warhorn, not knowing that Warhorn is the Wrong Kind of People.

Engineers need help in the work of discernment. Warhorn is well equipped to help them in that work.

I don’t know that Warhorn should take pride in having so many engineers supporting it. But if you attract mostly practical, un-sophisticated men who know a little something about how to make things happen, you’re on the right track. Just make sure most of those men are blue collar who can discipline the engineers. Too many engineers means the paralysis of analysis.

Remember the sort of men Jesus chose to be His disciples, and what sort of men the Pharisees and Sadducees were.

(Joel Norris) #13

With all the engineers here, I feel like an odd duck as a scientist.

(Chris Davy) #14

So… Maybe a bit off topic…

A question for the licensed engineers dealing with continuing education credits:

Anyone have a good recommendation for the ethics credit?
Is it worth searching for a “Christian” source?

I’d like to know what other Christian engineers use and/or find valuable…

(Ken Lamb) #15

Not an engineer, but maybe I should’ve been. I actually co-produced a short film called “Should’ve Been an Engineer”. It won an award for cinematography. I just kept the project on track, not a technical guy. So yeah…I got nothing else. :grin:

(Daniel Meyer) #16

Don’t worry Joel, computer science guys aren’t “real” engineers anyway. (Right, EE guys?)

Back in Novell’s heyday in the 1990s, the company’s top certification was the CNE, which in the U.S. stood for “Certified Novell Engineer” but which in Canada didn’t stand for anything, it was just the letters CNE. I never got the story on that, but I imagined it was just Canada’s take on CS guys not being “real” engineers…

(Caleb Starr) #17

Same here. What branch of science are you in? I’m in biochemistry

(Joel Norris) #18

– weather and climate

(Paul Ojanen) #19

Here’s a correlation. Engineering has maintained its high male-female ratio far more than most other professions. I’d also wager the churches represented in Sanityville run a relatively high male-female ratio.

(Joseph Bayly) #20

I doubt that, but it’s certainly true that our visitors & fans skew male. But correlation and causation and all that. lol