Astronomer reconciles faith, science

By Cory Minderhout and Annie Mae Platter

Christians can worship by seeing Gods nature in the universe, Dr. Jennifer Wiseman told students, faculty and staff on Wednesday.

Dr. Wiseman showed the audience pictures taken by the Hubble Telescope at the opening address of Seattle Pacific’s 10th annual Day of Common Learning.

Dr. Wiseman pulled her audience into a world of science, in which time is measured in billions of years and size and temperature are gauged by the color spectrum.

She integrated her professional experience in astronomy and technology with her personal experience to explain how science and faith should complement the community’s understanding of the universe and should motivate people to further study, learning and worship.

Growing up in Arkansas, Dr. Wiseman said she walked her childhood farm at night with her parents and gazed at the stars.

However, she did not always dream of becoming a scientist or discovering a comet.

Eventually, she decided to major in physics during her undergraduate years at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she said. She discovered the Skiff-Wiseman comet in 1987.

Dr. Wiseman went on to work on the Hubble Telescope for NASA and to serve as program director for the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“But I’m not here representing NASA or the [American Astronomical Society],” Dr. Wiseman said. “I’m here in a personal capacity.”

Gaining a better understanding of the universe can help give a better understanding of the nature of God, Dr. Wiseman said to a standing room only crowd at Royal Brougham Pavilion.

“Jesus Christ has authority over nature,” Dr. Wiseman said. “That’s something to ponder.”

Senior Emily Bee said the lecture applied to her life as a student.

“I’m a Christian and a science major,” she said. “Integrating science and faith is something that’s very important to me.”

Other SPU students also said they found the lecture thought-provoking and relevant to their lives.

“I think that God has given us reason to explore the universe,” freshman David Dovgopolyy said.

“The lecture changed my view of the universe and my place in it. [I learned that] we shouldn’t neglect the realm of science.”

After Dr. Wiseman’s lecture, students attended various seminars on topics of faith and science led by faculty, staff and students.

The lectures focused on everything from author C.S. Lewis’ view of life on other planets to a psychological understanding of the book of Job.

Dr. Karisa Pierce and Dr. Larry Gulberg, both assistant professors of chemistry, led a lecture on how religion has helped and hindered science throughout history.

“I think Isaiah was ahead of his time in more ways than one,” Dr. Gulberg said, referring to the mention of a round earth in Isaiah 40:22.

Another lecture was based on faith seen through science fiction, focusing on the television series Battlestar Gallactica.

“We don’t need to fear technology,” Dr. Jeffrey Keuss, professor of Christian ministry, said in the seminar.

“Dr. Wiseman confirmed everything I had prepared for my afternoon seminar, especially in regard to life on other planets.”

Freshman Joel DeJong said the lecture was encouraging because it showed how faith and science could work together.

“The church has gotten a bad reputation for shutting down science,” DeJong said. “It was great to see a Christian scientist saying there doesn’t need to be a conflict.”

Senior Janelle Tweed agreed.

“If I’m a Christian, I need a concrete backbone,” she said. “I need a faith that has depth.”

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Title: Astronomer reconciles faith, science | Author: Unknown | Section: News | Published Date: 2011-10-26 | Internal ID: 7840