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Science and faith, creation and evolution, to be BIFL lecturer’s topics

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A theologian and one of the best-known voices in the debate on how Christians should understand creation and evolution will speak on the Bethel College campus Nov. 3.

John F. Haught will give two lectures – supported by the Staley Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series – Nov. 3 at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in Bethel’s Fine Arts Center. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Haught is the author of one of the common texts for the 2014-15 senior capstone course, Basic Issues of Faith and Life (BIFL). The book is Haught’s latest, Science and Faith: A New Introduction (Paulist Press, 2013).

Haught is emeritus faculty at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and senior research fellow at Georgetown’s Woodstock Theological Center.

His area of expertise is systematic theology, with a special interest in issues of science, cosmology, ecology and reconciling evolution and religion.

In 2005, Haught testified as an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the first case to test, in a U.S. federal court, a public school board policy that mandated teaching intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

The plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (located in south-central Pennsylvania) successfully argued that teaching intelligent design violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, known as “separation of church and state.”

Haught, a native of Virginia, graduated from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore and earned his Ph.D. in theology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Haught was the winner of the 2002 Owen Garrigan Award in Science and Religion and the 2004 Sophia Award for Theological Excellence. Additionally, in 2009, recognizing his work on theology and science, the University of Leuven (Belgium) awarded Haught the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa.

While at Georgetown, Haught established the Center for the Study of Science and Religion and was the chair of the university’s theology department between 1990-95.

An evolutionary creationist, Haught views science and religion as two different and noncompeting levels of explanation, asserting that “science and religion cannot logically stand in a competitive relationship with each other.”

He is the author of 18 books dealing with various aspects of the debate between science and faith, particularly on the creation-evolution divide. Among these, in addition to Science and Faith, are God after Darwin: A Theology of Evolution (Westview Press, 2000), Responses to 101 Questions on God and Evolution (Paulist Press, 2001) and Deeper than Darwin: The Prospect for Religion in the Age of Evolution (Westview Press, 2003).

Haught’s convocation lecture at Bethel is titled “A Conversation about Science and Faith: Conflict, Contrast or Compatible?” The evening lecture is “Evolution and Faith: What is at Stake?”

He will also spend time in informal conversation with BIFL students between the two lectures. The public is welcome to attend this session, 2-3:50 p.m. in Room 214 in the Will Academic Center, but preference for questions will be given to students.

The Staley Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series was established in 1969, named for its benefactors, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Staley of New York, who set it up to honor their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Staley and Mr. and Mrs. H.H. Haynes. Bethel College has been hosting Staley Lectures periodically since 1972.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2014-15 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2014-15. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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