• August 30, 2016

CBU Professor Delves Into Science and Religion At Oxford Seminar

Riverside, Calif. (September 3, 2015) When students are given information about science that seems to conflict with their Christian beliefs, California Baptist University's Dr. Erin Smith has observed they usually pick one of three responses.

They work to determine what is true and integrate the two areas together; they reject science; or they walk away from their faith. This observation has fueled Smith's passion for pursuing research in this area.

Smith, assistant professor of psychology, is interested in aiding students who reject either faith or science and helping them work through the conflict.

"At CBU especially, we are about integration and I want to know how we can do that best to serve our students," she said

Smith spent four weeks this summer at the Oxford Summer Seminar in England, participating in the Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities 2015-16 project. The project included lectures, mentor sessions and workshops geared toward the integration of faith and science. Smith was one of 25 faculty participants at the seminar.

The project was hosted by Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford, a United Kingdom subsidiary of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. CCCU is an international association of Christ-centered colleges and universities with 119 members in North America and 55 affiliate institutions in 20 countries.

The goal of the project was to develop faculty's interdisciplinary skills and understanding central to the field of science and religion as well as their use of those skills on their respective campuses.

As part of the project, Smith is required to conduct a research project and then develop a science and religion club at CBU.

For her project, Smith will shadow students as they engage with material that deals with potential conflicts of science and religion. Her goal is to gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of an educational program for science and religion discussions, she said.

Smith intends to start the club next year. The goal of the club is to become a place that students can ask questions and then discuss these issues.

"The questions and searching shouldn't be dangerous," Smith said. "Especially if it's done from a perspective of ‘how can I honor God in this?'"

Smith said she is concerned that students who outright reject either Christianity or science have not explored the issues.

"If they never examine those beliefs, then I don't think they have the opportunity to let God be bigger and more majestic," she said.