“Look at Life” Conference brings together scientists, Bible scholars, theologians, skeptics, students, and pastors.

Faith and science may seem to be worlds apart. They look for different kinds of truths. They rely on different sorts of evidence. They speak in different languages, and even when they use the same word—such as energy, light, or life—it means different things.

Yet there are good reasons to bring the two worlds together. Most people, after all, want to live in both.

There are also pragmatic benefits to be gained for both pastors and scientists. When members of the “general public” have questions about science, to whom do they go? Most are more likely to consult a pastor than a professional science—probably since their pastor is someone they know and trust. So it behooves pastors to be at least somewhat scientifically literate.

Meanwhile scientists sometimes struggle to communicate their findings to the public. Especially when public health or the well being of the environment is at stake, they want to be able to imbue their cold facts with enough warm feeling that it inspires people to take action. Maybe scientists can learn from clergy a thing or two about relating to people.

For these pragmatic reasons, as well as the overarching purpose of “bringing two visions together for the sake of a fuller worldview,” Bethany Theological Seminary held a three-day conference and also series of “free lunch” talks in 2019. These events, which drew over 300 attendees overall, were open to the public.

The conference (April 25-27) was called “Look at Life.” Starting big, participants looked at the start of the universe and “fine-tuning” arguments for God’s existence, and then proceeded to consider the start of life on earth—both biological existence and the meaning of creating “life” in Genesis. Finally, attention turned to the start of individual human life, including issues of genome editing (see Articles page on this website, “It’s Coming Soon to DNA Near You.”)

The scientists who participated in the conference as speakers or panelists were: Craig Story, Professor of Biology, Gordon College; Gary Burdick, Professor of Physics, Andrews University; Katherine Miller Wolf, Assistant Professor of Anthropology (Bioarchaelogy); University of West Florida; Wes Tobin, Assistant Professor of Physics, Indiana University East; and Isaac Ottoni Wilhelm, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Philosophy of Science, Rutgers University.

The theologians who participated as speakers or panelists were: John Walton, Professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College; Nancy Bowen, Professor of Old Testament, Earlham School of Religion; Steven Schweitzer, Academic Dean, Bethany Theological Seminary; Martin Hanna, Associate Professor of Historical Theology, Andrews University; Russell Haitch, Professor of Theology and Human Science, Bethany Theological Seminary; and Nathanael Inglis, Assistant Professor of Theological Studies, Bethany Theological Seminary.

The conference was funded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), through a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

"Free Lunch" Speakers

 
Beth Mechlin, Associate Professor of Psychology at Earlham College, gives a presentation on childhood stress, explaining how the insights from sciencecan aid parents and teachers in their efforts to help children flourish.
Steve Crain (Ph.D. Notre Dame University, B.S. Stanford University), pastor of Lafayette Church of the Brethren, gives an autobiographical talk on science and Christian ministry.
Stephen Stoller, M.D. and FASAM (Fellow of American Society of Addiction Medicine, speaks on the neuroscience of addictions and on what works, and what doesn’t, for addiction recovery.

No events scheduled at this time due to Covid-19.

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