Science and Religion Discussion Springs from Unexpected Source

by University Relations

Exploring and contributing to the ongoing debate between religion and science from a multidisciplinary perspective, Mark Eaton, Ph.D., director of graduate studies and professor in the Department of English, participated in Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford (SCIO) in Oxford, England. The program, which involved two consecutive summer seminars themed Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and Humanities, gathered 25 faculty members from Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) schools to engage in productive dialogue and develop skills and understanding central to the fields of science and religion. Through a grant from the Templeton Religion Trust, SCIO provided funding for participants to create a valuable opportunity for developing scholarship at their home institutions. Eaton used this support to facilitate two events last spring that presented unique perspectives of Charles Darwin’s life as a catalyst for dynamic discussion on the Azusa Pacific campus.

Last spring, APU hosted a lecture by Edward J. Larson, Ph.D., the Hugh and Hazel Darling Chair in Law and professor at Pepperdine University School of Law. The Pulitzer Prize winner explored the context of the time period in which Darwin lived, establishing a framework for an academic and critical analysis of his views. Rather than focusing on the controversial theory of evolution, Larson presented “Darwin and the Victorian Soul” as part of APU’s annual Center for Research on Ethics and Values lecture series and spoke about Darwin’s life within the context of 19th-century politics, philosophies, and mores.

The following week, APU’s Black Box Theater presented Mr. Darwin’s Tree, a play by Murray Watts and starring Andrew Harrison. Approved and sponsored by the CCCU, the show toured the country with performances at several institutions, highlighting Darwin’s private life and relationships, including his wife, a Christian with a deep and abiding faith.

Both events investigated Darwin from unique and nontraditional angles and generated compelling dialogue about faith and Creation. The SCIO seminars and the resulting events on campuses throughout the world helped train a new generation of leaders in civil discourse surrounding issues of science and religion.

Originally published in the Fall '16 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.