by Aleta Karstad
The NG Faith & Science Forum is a diverse group of North Grenvillians who meet regularly to discuss books, articles, videos, and other material involving Faith, Science, and often other topics. The group has existed for over twenty years, a small, comfortable group of 6 – 12 friendly locals. We began meeting in Leslie Hall, and more recently at the Christian Reformed Church, now shifting our meeting online via Zoom, where we can see each other’s smiling faces (without masks).
We come together on the second and fourth Thursday of every month, starting at 7:30 pm, for 90 minutes of sharing, learning, and enjoying on a wide range of topics, usually based on a book, but sometimes a video. We sometimes touch on creation-evolution, and often swerve into subjects like ecology and the environment, personal faith or doubt, local concerns and, of course, politics, although we usually stop before getting into heated debate.
I’ve been attending fairly regularly since 2011, enjoying the casual banter and growing friendships. The exposure to theoretical sciences and philosophy (with which I’m quite ignorant) has not hurt me a bit, and I’ve not felt my Christian faith to be challenged either.
People of all ages and faiths are welcome to join us. Our tone is inquiring, never disparaging. Every person, with their unique backgrounds, beliefs, and individual perspectives, is respected by all. Everyone has a chance to suggest the next book.
Sometimes it’s a new book, hot off the press, and sometimes a timeless classic. We’ve ranged from Francis Collins’ “The language of God”, about the human genome project, the science of DNA, and how Collins’ studies affected his religious beliefs, to ”The Phenomenon of Man” by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, published in 1959.
The last book we discussed in 2021 was John Polkinghorn’s book, “Belief in God in an Age of Science”, which focuses on the collegiality between science and theology, maintaining that these “intellectual cousins” are both concerned with interpreted experience and with the quest for truth about reality. He argues eloquently that scientific and theological inquiries are parallel.
For our first meeting of 2022 (Thursday, 13 January at 7:30) we will be meeting via Zoom to start on William James’ “The Varieties of Religious Experience,” a classic of psychology from 1917, the first scholarly attempt to look at religion as experienced. The text of the book is available for free at https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/621. Wikipedia has a good introduction at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Varieties_of_Religious_Experience.
We will begin with the first “lecture” in the book, and see where it takes us.
Try us out for an evening, or come when you can. We will add your name to our e-mail distribution for details of upcoming meetings, discussion-starter materials, and random eclectic sharing between meetings. You may find, like us, that faith and science needn’t threaten each other, and in fact, usually supplement each other – and the discussions will challenge and expand your understanding of life and the cosmos.
The next Faith & Science Forum is scheduled for 13 January, 7:30 – 9:00 via Zoom. For more information, or to get on our announcement list, e-mail Ed Norman at firstname.lastname@example.org.