"Boundaries and Horizons: Engaging Faith, Science, and Humanities" features Venema and Peterson at AU's Windsor Manor
February 24, 2022
Faculty convened for a third discussion as a part of SEARCH’s Christianity & Science program on Saturday morning, February 19, at Asbury University’s Windsor Manor. This event, “Boundaries and Horizons: Engaging Faith, Science, and Humanities” featured Dr. Dennis Venema, Trinity Western University, and Dr. Mike Peterson, Asbury Theological Seminary. The event hosted by biology professor Dr. Ben Brammell and English professor Dr. Dan Strait was funded by a grant received from the Lilly Foundation and was a continuation of the host’s conversations in the Lilly Faculty Fellows Program, which pairs STEM and humanities professors for dialogue at Christian institutions.
Peterson and Venema each offered two short talks at intervals throughout the morning, followed with questions and discussion from the 23 attendees. The conversation delved into some of the very large inquiries that Christianity and science intersections tend to converge on, and that are commonly avoided. Saturday’s conversations remained primarily on the question of origins. The speaker presentations and discussions following have sparked much conversation that has continued throughout the week among the faculty participants. There is much to consider about the intersections between faith and the pressures that science can put on that, and vice versa. Although a challenging topic, especially due to polarizing opinions, SEARCH recognizes the importance of bringing voices to the room that generate a deeper conversation and highlight the importance of holding a sense of intellectual humility. Much of the collaborative nature of SEARCH events brings together disciplines that are not readily or easily converged. Bringing others to the room allows more dialogue to occur that puts pressure on the assumptions of any one given discipline and informs the picture to create a holistic view of our humanity. The combination of Peterson and Venema, for the nature of the research done in their co-authored book given to participants, Biology, Religion, and Philosophy: An Introduction, and in their discussion on Saturday, together offered a more robust engagement with the discussion of human origin. Strait has articulated before that the goal of the SEARCH Christianity & Science Program at Asbury University is “to stimulate a very vigorous and seriously intellectual conversation between faith, humanities, and sciences.” As an extension of Asbury University’s hope to contribute to the academy in a way that does not shy away from the discomfort of the “space between” which avoids polarization, SEARCH hopes to enrich the academy through intellectual humility and Christian inquiry that is guided from its source as an active pursuit of that which is true. As a Christian community, AU holds that God is a creator who actively cares to teach us about himself through his creation. The pursuit of the knowledge of God drives the intellectual approach. SEARCH’s current campaign is “designed for discovery” and this most recent Christianity & Science event has enlivened the approach to the topic of human origin in a way that makes one consider the God who designed and discover who He is amid what is unseen.
Since the pair began in the Lilly Faculty Fellows Program, Brammell and Strait have attended and spoken at multiple conferences. Additionally, they have hosted two faculty presentations and two presentations for students at Asbury University.
SEARCH is excited to welcome Dr. Praveen Sethupathy from Cornell University as the Annual Symposium Keynote Speaker. Sethupathy was the speaker of SEARCH’s first Christianity & Science event addressed toward the student body in 2020.
The Christianity & Science program asks big questions about the relationship between our Christian faith, our academic disciplines, and scientific discovery.