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Inventor of the laser printer shares his Christian testimony

BENYOLA: Were you teaching, uh, overtly Reformed theology, or were you just kind of including it?

STARKWEATHER: Overtly. So, when it came time to retire — because I’ve had a fabulous technical career, I don’t know if you know about it very much.

BENYOLA: I’m a little bit privy to it. I knew you were chummy with Bill Gates.

STARKWEATHER: I invented the laser printer. I worked for Lucasfilm as a consultant.

BENYOLA: You worked for George Lucas?

STARKWEATHER: I got a technical Academy Award for the work that I did for his company. So I’ve had more privilege than I think the son of a dairy farmer should have. But God chose me to do this sort of thing, and part of it’s because I think I’m trying to find the truth out of this whole thing. When I decided to retire, where would I retire? Well, I’d lived in California. I could always go back down there. My daughter’s down there. It’s so expensive. You pay a million dollars for something that that should cost a hundred thousand. It’s ridiculous. Arizona was a possibility because I’d done a lot of work in Arizona. But it’s kind of like living on the moon. Nothing grows naturally green … So my brother-in-law called, and he said, “I’m down here in Debary. You should come take a look.” My wife wanted to be near her brother, so we came down here and asked the real estate agent, “Are there any good churches around here?” “Yeah, I think there’s a pretty good one over there in Sanford.” So I said, “Who preaches there?” By the way, the real estate agent and her husband are now members of the church. I turned the corner, and the sign said, “R.C. Sproul, Senior Pastor.” I looked at my wife and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. This is unbelievable.” We went in there, and there he was. I said, “We’re home.”

BENYOLA: What year was that?

STARKWEATHER: 2005.

BENYOLA: So you were in the old building down the street?

STARKWEATHER: That’s correct, the old building. So I became a deacon there, and then they asked me to be an elder four years ago. So I was very fortunate the way God has brought me because I was in a lot of churches where I didn’t get fed very well. It was hard. I had to do a lot of my own work, a lot of my own reading to stay up on things. It’s wonderful to come to a place where it just opens my mind up, and the way R.C. opens the Word, and to see someone who felt the same way I did. For example, my mother was on my case if I ever played with regular cards. “I believe they gamble with those.” … R.C. came and he said he went to this [Christian] college once [to teach], and he said they [the students] were playing cards, a game called Rook, the only one they were allowed to play. And he said, “What place have I come to?” [laughs]

BENYOLA: I think I’ve heard this story. The kids said, “This is the Christian card game.” R.C. said, “Well, I’m teaming up with my wife for bridge later, so I must be in big trouble.”

STARKWEATHER: That’s so great! So, R.C. has been a big value in that sense … he has extensive education and wisdom in all that sort of thing. It’s just pushed me onward because many Christian churches that I was familiar with, felt that if you’re too educated, you’re going to lose your faith. That just doesn’t sound right … Science was such an eye-opener for me. How can you look at the structure of the universe and not be awestruck by the power of God? Well, of course, the Spirit has to awaken you, but it’s not that when you learn that, it turns you off. No, it doesn’t. It turns you on. That’s a little background of the way I got there. My mother was petrified when I graduated from physics. She said it was going to make me an atheist. It’s not going to make me an atheist, you know? But that was the perception of many people in those churches, “Science is important to make your car run, but be real careful, it could cause you to lose your faith.” That’s baloney.

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