Convocation 2013: Faith and Science

November 1, 2013 | 11 a.m.

News | Luke Walters for The Clarion

Throughout the past 500 years, science in Western civilization has become exponentially more sophisticated. Much modern scientific progress began with scientists like Copernicus and Galileo. Though many of the revolutionary scientists possessed faith, the church removed its hand in the control of scientific progress by the end of this era.

This change had its benefits, allowing scientists to freely work without harassment from the church; however this shift in thought eventually created a dichotomy between science and faith.

Modern scientists like Richard Dawkins represent the opposition of the amalgamation between science and faith.

“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world,” said Dawkins.

Though Christianity is certainly met with opposition in various areas of the scientific world, many believers wish to bridge the schism between science and faith. This mindset is manifesting this year at Bethel through the form of the 13’-14’ convocation series: A Faithful Science.

The primary purpose of this year’s convocation is to affirm the belief that this world belongs to God, and scientific fields proclaim the glory of God and stand as a testament to his awe-inspiring greatness. Convocation seeks to accomplish this by inviting scientists and scholars to address the student body and present how God’s glory is displayed within their various disciplines.

The first section of this series focused on how the makeup of the galaxies and the pursuit of astronomy reveals God’s majesty. To begin the series, Bethel was proud to welcome Dr. Jennifer Wiseman as the first speaker.

Wiseman is the Senior Project Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where she previously headed the Laboratory for Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics. She is also the director of the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. While still an undergraduate, she co-discovered the comet 114P/Wiseman-Skiff. She conducted post-doctoral research in star formation as a Jansky Fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and as a Hubble Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University.

Wisemen kicked off the Convocation series when she spoke on Friday Oct. 18. She told about her experience working with the hubble telescope. Utilizing pictures of far-off galaxies, she demonstrated the machine’s amazing power, as well as God’s amazing power and design displayed in the universe. She ended her speech by urging the student body to investigate and examine the world around us to learn more about the God who created it.

The convocation series displays an interesting progression with its planned topics. It began by discussing astronomy and the universe.

The next session will feature Dr. Daniel Hastings a professor of engineering systems and aeronautics and astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His area of expertise also features outer space, though his credentials focus more on the physics of the space travel systems.

The subject of the third speaker, Dr. Dorothy Chappell, will be more down to earth as she discusses biological topics. The dean of natural and social sciences, as well as a professor of biology at Wheaton College, Chappell focuses on areas of biochemistry and genetics.

The final speaker, Dr. Shaundra Daily, will focus on technology and education, and will discuss a constructivist strategy for education.

These four topics are becoming more pertinent to daily life as the series progresses. It begins with space and the universe, scopes into life on earth with biology and genetics, and finally applies directly to social affairs with technology and education.

Throughout each session, the speakers desire to create tangible connections between their various fields and the Christian faith, demonstrating how God works in the various sciences. This series strives to bridge science and faith, and will hopefully be the catalyst to Bethel students for developing wise, critical minds when it comes to the relationship between faith and science.

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