Pursuing truth in community: TWU faculty and students join international conference on science, Christianity, and being human
"Christian scholars cannot separate our lives into distinct compartments that don't interact. Everything we learn about any topic will find a way of connecting to, challenging, or enhancing our engagement with every other topic in some way, both because we are not just isolated individuals but a community of persons committed to the pursuit of truth in all its manifestations and because the world is an integral world created by a Triune Creator."
— Dr. Arnold Sikkema
Executive Director of the Canadian Scientific & Christian Affiliation and Professor of Physics at TWU
At an upcoming conference on July 29–Aug 1, TWU faculty and students will join scientists from universities across the continent who represent diverse areas of research and expertise to discuss issues relating to science, Christianity, and being human.
Hosted at San Diego’s Point Loma Nazarene University, the conference, “What is a Human? Flourishing as a Person,” is the 2022 annual meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA).
Trinity Western professor Dr. Arnold Sikkema is executive director of the Canadian Scientific & Christian Affiliation (CSCA), an organization connected with the ASA that promotes dialogue between faith and science. He along with professors Dr. Dennis Venema and Dr. Myron A. Penner are attending and lecturing at the ASA conference. Four Trinity Western students will also attend, with some giving poster presentations on their research.
TWU student and faculty participation
Karissa Perry is a biotechnology major at TWU who will be joining this summer's ASA conference. She looks forward to learning from experienced Christian scientists "the ins and outs of navigating the scientific world from a Christian perspective."
"I am excited to hear Dennis Venema and Myron Penner speak, as they are both professors at TWU, and to be in devotional and worship fellowship with Christ followers from all over Canada and USA," she said, adding, "I am also excited to see other students' research and learn from their experiences."
Joining Karissa for the conference are TWU students Spencer Funk, Xelian Louw, and Laura Kelly.
"The group I am attending with have become good friends of mine this past year, and I am excited [for us] to be challenging each other as we learn from the conference and share great memories during our travels," said Karissa, who is also pursuing summer research at TWU under Dr. Anthony Siame, biology professor.
Thinking and living across disciplines
Looking at—and living within—the worlds of science, Christianity, and philosophy, is what professors Sikkema, Venema and Penner do on an ongoing basis.
On the topic of faith integration, Dr. Sikkema comments, "Christian scholars cannot separate our lives into distinct compartments that don't interact. Everything we learn about any topic will find a way of connecting to, challenging, or enhancing our engagement with every other topic in some way, both because we are not just isolated individuals but a community of persons committed to the pursuit of truth in all its manifestations and because the world is an integral world created by a Triune Creator."
As a physics professor, Dr. Sikkema conducts research in the areas of Reformational philosophy of biophysics and Christian faith, and quantum physics. As the executive director of the Canadian Scientific & Christian Affiliation, he regularly engages the public on topics relating to faith and science. His talk on "Big Bang Cosmology and Creation," for example, discusses how to understand, in tandem, both scientific and biblical accounts of the origins of the universe.
Embracing multiple avenues of God’s revelation
Additionally, Dr. Venema, biology professor, recently published a book, Biology, Religion, and Philosophy: An Introduction, in which he and co-author Michael L. Peterson explore what science, philosophy and religion reveal about the origins of life, and the purpose and function of living beings. During a book launch and lecture last December, Dr. Venema and other speakers presented a compelling approach on learning from both Scripture and science, embracing both as avenues of God’s revelation.
Connecting scientific research to topics in theology and philosophy
As a philosophy professor, Dr. Penner enjoys thinking through challenging questions that address the meaning of life, the existence of God, morality, and the nature of knowing. His main research areas include the philosophy of religion, philosophical issues in science, and scientific approaches to the study of religion. In addition to teaching at TWU and conducting research at UBC, Dr. Penner has published widely on how science interprets belief, including an upcoming co-authored chapter (with Dr. Laird Edman, Northwestern College) in The Oxford Handbook of the Cognitive Science of Religion, titled, “Lived Faith and Cognitive Intuitions: Some Theological Implications of Cognitive Science of Religion.”
Science, philosophy, and faith in conversation
At this year’s ASA conference, Dr. Sikkema is speaking on "Modern Physics and the Human Person." He will unpack what modern physics (i.e. physics developed after 1900) can say about being human, including how quantum indeterminism might (or might not) relate to human choice and how people are, surprisingly, quite a bit like electrons: we are our relationships (or: our relationships are integral or intrinsic to our being). A goal of his talk is to have people realize that physics has moved on beyond Isaac Newton and that this can impact our understanding of the world at all levels, including the human level.
Dr. Venema is presenting on “Adam, Eve, and Craig: An Interrogation of William Lane Craig’s In Quest of the Historical Adam,” in which he will bring his expertise in biology, specifically genomics, to bear in a critique of certain arguments made by the popular Christian apologist William Lane Craig in his 2021 book, In Quest of the Historical Adam: A Biblical and Scientific Exploration.
Dr. Penner is presenting two papers co-authored with scientists from other universities, “The Science of Sex Determination and the Human Person,” and “Doing Church Scientifically: Theological Implications of the Cognitive Science of Religion.”
Join the 2022 ASA conference on “What is a Human? Flourishing as a Person”
The 2022 ASA conference is open to the public; information on in-person and virtual attendence are available here.
About the Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation (CSCA)
The Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation (CSCA) is a fellowship of scientists and those interested in science, who want to understand how science should best interact with the life-giving Christian tradition. Learn more at the CSCA website.
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About Trinity Western University
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier global Christian liberal arts university. We are dedicated to equipping students to discover meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. Drawing upon the riches of the Christian tradition, seeking to unite faith and reason through teaching and scholarship, Trinity Western University is a degree-granting research institution offering liberal arts and sciences as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four locations in Canada: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. Learn more at www.twu.ca or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.
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