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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Forum explores scientific, religious meanings of life

Through science and religion, students explored different approaches to the meaning of life at a debate-style forum hosted on Tuesday by a nonprofit organization.

Different Christian groups and church members joined together to help set up the debate and guide students to the forum in Crowder Hall. These groups sponsored Veritas, a nonprofit organization that has visited the UA campus three times in the past. This was the Veritas’ first debate-style forum, however.

“The forum is a discussion to share with students how God and science can be related and how they’re not necessarily two entities, but they’re actually one,” said Kayla Mlodzik, a communication junior involved with the Cru, a campus club affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ International. “We really want to bridge the gap between that.”

In order to provide different perspectives, William G. McCallum, head of the Math department and Satyan Devadoss, associate professor of math at Williams College in Massachusetts, were guest speakers.

McCallum, self-identified as a freethinker, explained in his opening remarks about his focus on the meaning of life through science, reason, art and love. When Devadoss, a Christian, gave his opening remarks, he tied in the meaning of life with his faith.

Following the opening remarks, each speaker was given a chance to ask one question of the other speaker. McCallum asked Devadoss how he continues to believe in his faith, and Devadoss asked McCallum how he feels about injustice and how he deals with it.

The floor was then open for students and other attendees to ask the guest speakers their thoughts on questions ranging from religious miracles, as well as the limitations of a scientific way of thinking.

Both speakers responded with arguments based on science, religion or a mix of both. Devadoss explained his belief in science, but also his feeling that science is not enough for him — he needs his faith as well. McCallum agreed that science is not enough, but did not agree that religion defined his meaning of life.

As the forum came to a close, each speaker challenged members of the audience. McCallum asked them to question and think more, and Devadoss asked attendees to spend time in college questioning each other and loving each other.

“I think raising this discussion and being able to talk about what people believe and why they believe it is the biggest benefit for me,” said Brandon Hodge, a campus staff minister for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Some student attendees said they enjoyed the fact that the debate was civil, and that it was interesting to listen to and weigh in on.

“I thought they were both well put together and I enjoyed listening to both sides of the story,” said Chelsea Snarrenberg, a senior studying molecular and cellular biology. “I also enjoyed that they didn’t attack each other. It made for a great dialogue.”

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