SEARCH Events Bring Discussions of Faith, Evolution and Research – Asbury University
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SEARCH Events Bring Discussions of Faith, Evolution and Research

Asbury Professors Cross Take on Insightful Topics Across Disciplines

November 5, 2021

On October 26, SEARCH held an event titled “Voyage to the Galapagos: A Perspective on Faith and Evolution” hosted by Professor of Biology Dr. Ben Brammell and Professor of English Dr. Ben Strait as part of SEARCH’s Christianity and Science program.

Strait brought his perspective to the topic of faith and evolution from a literature and culture standpoint. He referenced Terry Eagleton, Richard Dawkins, and others that have works inspired by questions of how faith and evolution coincide. Brammell then answered questions, posed by Asbury biology student Brianna Wilson, about his recent trip to the Galápagos. Brammell shared his perspective on faith and the theory of evolution from a biology viewpoint.

Strait commented on the objective of the SEARCH Christianity and Science program.

“The goal is to stimulate a very vigorous and seriously intellectual conversation between faith, humanities, and sciences.” Strait said. “I’m trying to challenge myself to have a more informed view of science and a more deeply serious view of the conflicts between science and faith.”

Brammell explained that he hopes to open dialogue around the controversy surrounding faith and evolution.

 “For me personally, that was a big question as I became a biologist,” Brammell said. “It is my hope that this discussion will help all students who are interested in thinking about this topic, especially our science students, as they grapple with this subject and develop their own views on it.”

The Lilly Faculty Fellows Program paired Brammell and Strait together to collaborate on a project that integrates faith, the humanities and science. As a result, in the past few years, the professors attended and spoke at multiple conferences, including a recent presentation at Boston College. Additionally, they gave two faculty presentations and one presentation for students at Asbury University during the 2020-21 academic year. The professors are eager to address more Christianity and science questions.

SEARCH will host another Christianity and Science faculty event with Strait and Brammell in February 2022.

Asbury Professors Encourage Students to Pursue Research at Kinlaw Library Event

On November 2, the Kinlaw Library hosted a SEARCH-sponsored panel event titled “Curious Minds: Research in Today’s World” in the campus Student Center. Janet Dean, professor of psychology, Sean Gaffney, associate professor in the Media, Journalism & Digital Storytelling department, and Wilson Shafer, assistant professor in chemistry, served as panelists at the event moderated by Tollie Sneed ’22.

Amy Bessin, assistant director of library services at Asbury University, explained the purpose of the event.

“Sometimes students have misconceptions about research: that it is boring, too difficult, or not something relevant to their chosen major or field,” Bessin said. “Our goal with this event was to introduce research as an exciting part of every discipline, and something that doesn’t require a Ph.D. but can be a rich part of exploring your chosen area of study right now as an undergraduate student.”

The panelists answered questions about what research means to them in their discipline, how it has shaped their careers, and they discussed the challenges and successes they have experienced throughout their research journeys. The Asbury professors encouraged students to push through any fears they may have surrounding research, get started, and collaborate with others for the best results.

“Being right is not the most important thing,” Gaffney said. “Research is a treasure hunt. Have conversations with people outside of your discipline and be challenged to see things differently.”


SEARCH seeks to highlight transformative learning in the classroom and showcase academics through funded programming, events and marketing. Find its upcoming events here: