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Convocation Series: “Faithful Science”

Convocation Series: “Faithful Science”

Dorothy Chappell, professor of biology and dean of Natural & Social Sciences at Wheaton College, presented at Bethel.

Bethel’s “Faithful Science” Convocation series continued on January 13 as Dorothy Chappell, professor of biology and dean of Natural & Social Sciences at Wheaton College (Ill.), shared her perspective on the relationship between science and faith.

She began her presentation, "The Joy of Discovery: Reflecting God's Light and Love," with a reference to scripture, Psalm 8, which begins “O Lord, Our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

Chappell told the audience that we are all called to“see God’s glory and majesty in creation; respond to God in worship and praise through study of His natural order; praise and thank God for His glory and majesty as revealed to us in Biblical Scripture (His special revelation) and nature (His general revelation) and through the incarnation of Christ, who entered this material world; and respond to God by using knowledge about creation as a form of reconciliation for good to people and creation.”

The self-described “both bench and field” scientist pointed out that with discovery comes power and responsibility. “Discovery sharpens our worship of God and can be a means of grace to humankind. We have an obligation to steward our minds well, to steward the parts of creation with which we can interact, and to steward the well being of other humans.”

She continued, “The work and ministry of redemption and reconciliation involves diminishing the suffering of all creation. Much of the work of scientists leads to human interventions in nature that can work for good, or ill, for residents of the earth,” she said, using alleviating hunger, diminishing pollution, and cleaning up the atmosphere as examples of good outcomes.

Chappell said her own fascination with the natural world and discovery was fostered as a small child growing up on a farm. She was grateful for mentors who were both scientists and Christians and said, “I see science as a legitimate calling for Christians.”

“When we’re thinking of our calling and careers,” she maintained, “Christians have to look at our motivations: is your motivation to serve others? to accumulate wealth? to carry the gospel into your neighborhood? to bring hope to the disenfranchised? to help secure justice for those who suffer injustice?”

She concluded by encouraging students to “Think about your motivations and think of them as a way to help others.”

Rebecca Seaberg, assistant professor of mathematics and computer science, introduced the session by describing Convocation “as an opportunity for the Bethel community to be enriched by speakers who can provide new perspectives on diverse areas of intellectual inquiry. By holding these events during our usual chapel service time we wish to emphasize the integral connection between the life of the mind and the life of the spirit.”

She said, “The 2013-2104 Convocation series, ‘Faithful Science,’ grows out of our belief that 'our world belongs to God.' We have therefore invited scientists from a variety of fields to explore how they view science as a Christian vocation, as well as a discipline that can deepen our appreciation of how the natural world proclaims the eternal power of God. We hope that their perspectives challenge, inform, and nourish us in our understanding of the world as God's amazing creation.”

There will be two more speakers in the “Faithful Science” Convocation series: Shaundra Daily, assistant professor at Clemson University, will speak on April 16 on "One Body, Many Parts: The Constructionist Strategy for Education;" and Krista Tippett, radio journalist and host of “On Being,” will speak on May 2 on “Einstein’s God.”