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Union profs earn Templeton award for class uniting science & faith

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–To help students understand what they believe and how they believe it, Union University professors Jimmy Davis and Hal Poe are uniting two traditional “enemies” in their class, “Science and Faith: A Dialogue.” In doing so, Davis and Poe have been named recipients of a 1998 John Templeton Foundation Science and Religion Award.
The Templeton Foundation recognizes professors across the country for classes that integrate science and faith. This year 93 classes were named winners of the Science and Religion Award.
Davis, professor of chemistry-physics, and Poe, associate professor of Christian studies, created the course to explore major scientific concepts and major faith commitments of Christianity, with the hope of producing constructive discussion about the relationship between science and faith.
“Faith speaks about creation from the perspective of who made it and why. Science studies creation from the perspective of how it works,” Poe explains. “By putting science and faith together in one class, we can help Christian students better understand the questions and answers of science and faith.”
The class, scheduled to begin this fall, developed from discussions between Davis and Poe about the link between science and faith and the responsibility of Christian higher education to offer classes that explore the relationship.
“Since all truth is God’s truth, the Christian university has a responsibility to examine knowledge as a whole rather than in fragments,” Davis says.
To demonstrate that wholeness, Davis and Poe plan to ask their students five questions and address each question from a scientific perspective and a religious perspective. Davis and Poe will ask:
— What can we know and how do we know it?
— What kind of universe exists?
— Where did we come from?
— What can we know with certainty?
— When is order disorder?
They will address each question by pairing five major areas of science with key themes of Christianity. For example, “What can we know and how do we know it?” will focus on the scientific method and then the Holy Spirit and revelation. For “What kind of universe exists?” they will study cosmology and relativity and then creation, revelation and incarnation. For “What can we know with certainty?” students will explore quantum physics and then the sovereignty of God.
Davis serves as Union’s associate provost and director of institutional research. He received his bachelor of science from Union and earned his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Davis, his wife, Christine, and their son, Patrick, are members of Germantown Baptist Church in Germantown, Tenn.
Poe is Union’s vice president for academic resources and information services. He graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor of arts and received his master of divinity and doctorate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. Poe, his wife, Mary Anne, and daughters, Rebecca and Mary Ellen, are members of Northbrook Baptist Church, Madison County, Tenn.
The John Templeton Foundation was established in 1987 to explore spiritual and moral progress through the use of scientific methods and to recognize frontier thinking in religion that contributes to humanity’s understanding of God, spirituality and the universe.

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  • Nedra Kanavel