Astronomer Deborah Haarsma '91 Named CAS Alumna of the Year

Deborah Haarsma ’91 is an astronomer, author, and frequent speaker on the harmony found between modern science and the Christian faith.

By Cherie Suonvieri '15, GS'21, content specialist

October 04, 2022 | 8 a.m.

Deborah Haarsma ’91 sat in a Bethel Chapel service as an undergraduate student, contemplating her calling. She was double majoring in physics and music, two passions she’d held since her youth. The Chapel speaker emphasized the importance of having Christians among the top scholars in the country, so that they might bring a Christian voice to academic discussions. Then it struck her: She wanted to represent the Christian perspective within the scientific world, while also helping to bring science back into the church—and that’s been a unifying theme of her entire career since.

Haarsma went on to earn her Ph.D. in astrophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She later served as a professor of physics and astronomy at Calvin College. Today, Haarsma is the president of BioLogos, an organization that works to bring faith and science together. “So often these end up on opposite sides of the culture wars,” Haarsma says. “But as Christians, we know God made the universe, and we want to celebrate what God made in the natural world and what we learn about that through science.”  

For Haarsma, being at the telescope is a worshipful experience, because when she looks at the universe through the eyes of faith, she sees the heavens declaring the glory of God. “Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, contains a few hundred billion stars. It is just one of billions of galaxies in the universe,” Haarsma says. “Psalm 103 says as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is my love for my children. So, when we see how vast the universe is, don’t think, ‘Oh, I’m so small. God must not care about me.’ Think, ‘God cares about me that much.’ That’s the picture He’s giving us for how vast His love is.” 

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