Science vs. Religion debate on campus tonight

Mikayla Pearson, Practicum Reporter

The Veritas Forum to discuss the relation between the two entities

Science and religion have found great strife through the years, but students and faculty at Oregon State University want to open up a discussion on the two’s interaction.

OSU is hosting The Veritas Forum, at which there will be a discussion between two professors, moderated by a third professor.

Students and faculty from various organizations including CRU, Intervarsity, and The Branch, in conjunction with the national organization The Veritas Forum, are putting on this event.

“Essentially what we do is try to have conversations on campus on some of the questions that are most important to students at that university,” said Krystal Smith, the Northwest regional director and special projects director for The Veritas Forum. “ Our hope is to bring together students and faculty of all perspective to have conversations that are relevant and significant to students.”

This discussion will be moderated by Aaron Wolf, a geography professor at OSU. The two guest speakers will be Joe Fradella, who is a civil and construction engineering professor at OSU, and S. Joshua Swamidass, who is an assistant professor in the department of immunology and pathology at Washington University.

To begin the discussion, each professor will be given ten minutes to give their thoughts on the central topic “Does science end religious belief?” given their personal background and experiences.

Wolf, who has an abundant moderation experience working with foreign countries water control laws, will pose questions for each speaker to discuss. Then, the floor will open for questions from the audience.

Recounted Andrea Kenagy, a senior at OSU, said the event is an opportunity for people to learn from others with different perspectives on various topics.

Last year’s Veritas Forum eventually led groups on the OSU campus to engage in discussions outside of the debate.

“This is a chance for personal growth. Everybody is going into it with their own bias and opinion, but it opens you up to other viewpoints, and allows you to see the value in them,” Kenagy said. “One thing that came The Veritas Forum last year was that The Advocates for Free Thought and Skepticism had a meeting with students from CRU to ask questions and discuss their own views further.”

McKenzie Tritt, an intern at The Branch, said this event will allow for the audience ot explore the connection between science and religion, and how the two may coincide.

“(This University) is a prestigious research institution that is home to some of the world’s best scientists and may, if not the majority, of our students are in science-based majors,” Tritt said. “Because of this, we want to prived students and faculty the chance to explore whether it’s possible to believe in both science and faith.”

According to the organizers, the overall reason for this event is to bring honest discussion in a civil setting. Many people explore different faiths through college, and being a science based university it is important to be able to discuss the two combined.

According to Wolf, by not engaging in these types of conversations, students and community members are missing out on important talks that can expand perspectives

“I think open minds are the key to any kind of inquiry, and I love that there seems to be more and more faith based discussions on campus. I think for decades we kind of shied away from those conversations, and I think it is to our detriment,” Wolf said.

Although more traditional aspects of health are a concern, Wolf feels that by including talks about spiritual health, students and community members as a whole will benefit.

“We talk about the three health concerns for our student population and our community; physically, emotionally and intellectually,” Wolf said. “All of that is true but a lot of people also pursue paths for spiritual health and incorporating that into the mix and recognizing that that is one of the needs of our campus community is really important.”

Fradella and others associated with the discussion recommend that students, faculty and the Corvallis community come to this event ready to learn about science, Christianity, and the Baha’I faith. However, they said most importantly people should come ready to listen to an open discussion.

“Please attend with an open mind and an open heart.” Fradella said.

The Forum will be held in the Horizon Room of the Memorial Union at 7:00pm.

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