Discussion group focuses onscience's relatioship to religion

Sept. 29, 1999

By CHRISTIE SMITH

Reporter

Graduate students and faculty now have a chance to meet and discuss important issues pertaining to the sciences and their relationship to religion.

The Institute for Faith and Learning recently began a biweekly discussion group called the 'Colloquium on Theistic Belief and the Conceptual Foundations of Science.'

According to Dr. Bruce Gordon, assistant research professor for the Institute for Faith and Learning, the group's first meeting consisted of approximately 20 participants, the majority of whom were faculty.

The meeting began with the discussion of a recent work by Lee Smolin, professor of physics at Pennsylvania State University. Smolin's book, The Life of the Cosmos, led the participants in a wide range of topics including physics and biology and their interaction with religious and theological concerns.

'We had a good mix of people there who were involved in the discussion,' Gordon said. 'All I had to do was throw out a topic, and the group ran with it.'

Science and religion are two of the largest and most important influential centers in America, said Dr. Michael D. Beaty, associate professor of philosophy and director of the Baylor Institute for Faith and Learning.

Beaty said Americans are committed to religion and to science, and the group's goal is to generate reflection on foundational issues in the sciences and their connection to philosophical and religious concerns.

'The main goal of the Institute for Faith and Learning is to cultivate conversation about the relationship between our faith and other academic practices,' Beaty said.

According to Gordon, the institute seeks to foster dialogue among the departments and to bring different conferences to the Baylor campus.

'We are hoping to sponsor national and regional conferences that deal with topics that are central to our concerns,' Gordon said.

In April, the institute will host a conference called, 'The Nature of Nature,' which deals with the relationship of philosophical naturalism to science. Organizers also hope to bring several more meetings to Baylor, especially in the summer.

According to Beaty, the institute is committed to researching the areas of religion and higher education.

'A university encourages conversations between two important topics like science and religion, and that is what we are trying to do,' Beaty said.

The discussion group's next meeting is Oct. 8, and it will continue to meet from 2-4 p.m. biweekly in room 201 of Carroll Library.