Faith, reason panel combines intellect with religion

By Jordan Davidson | Reporter

By Jordan Davidson | Reporter

Oso Logos and the Society of Physics Students paired up to host a faith and reason panel Wednesday night in the Baylor Sciences Building.

The panel included a moderator, Baylor professors and experts such as Dr. David Ryden, associate professor of mathematics, Dr. Gerald Cleaver, professor of physics, Alonso Octavio Aravena Mendez, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology and Dr. Todd Buras, an associate professor of philosophy, responded to student questions about how science and faith interact.

Oso Logos is self-described as “a Christian Apologetics organization dedicated to giving Christians the confidence and intellectual tools to answer the question, “why do you believe?” The Society of Physics Students, a chapter of the national organization the American Institute of Physics, “encourages the interest in physics throughout the academic and local communities.”

Together, the two organizations chose to partner and discuss the overlapping topics in their fields. Austin senior Maya Kovalik, treasurer of the Society of Physics Students, said she thinks it is important to keep asking hard questions and discussing tough issues.

“We’ve had a panel before, but we wanted to continue the dialogue,” Kovalik said. “There comes a time in people’s lives when, no matter what faith or rational backgrounds, they have to examine how their faith and rationality and say if they align.”

Kovalik said that both organizations designed the event in hopes that the audience would have the opportunity to gain a larger perspective on their own personal beliefs.

Moderator Lorin Matthews, a professor of physics, and attendees of the event were invited to ask the panelists questions about what it means to have faith and also dedicate time to studying science.

According to one of the panelists Dr. Cleaver, the two subjects must have relationship with one another.

“I would say there is both abstract reason, like self consistent logic, and also reason based on observation of the physical world, which itself has to be self consistent,” Cleaver said. “True faith and true reason need to be really consistent.”

Buras said that, for faith and reason to concur, there might be some sacrifices.

“There’s got to be coherence so the two lights have to come into convergence,” Buras said. “That means one or the other has to give and it’s not always going to be on point you want.”

Each of the panelists also had the opportunity to share their own struggles, past and present, in understanding the relationship between faith and reason.

“I wanted to know how we see God’s goodness — ‘why would God do it this way?’ and I continued to struggle with that for a while,” Ryden said. “But in our wrestling with following the good, we become wiser because we have first-hand experience learning the hard way what is at stake.”

Mendez said he agreed that he is still learning things about his own faith within his field of study.

“Something that I still struggle with is having more grace for myself and more grace with others,” Mendez said. “Feeling like my anger and resentment are righteous and that I have every justification to hate people or be petty is a constant struggle.”

Chicago senior Jacob Brumbach said it was encouraging to hear differing viewpoints from each of the panelists.

“I like to think about faith in a reasonable way so I was happy Baylor put this together and I got to hear from some real experts,” Brumbach said. “I’ve had classes Dr. Ryden before and I’ve always admired the way he looks at problems so I enjoyed what he had to say.”

Buras concluded the panel and said that having conversations about these kinds of issues is important — especially at Baylor.

“I admire Baylor and Baylor students for many reasons and one of them is events like this where students would ask faculty to talk about the intersection of faith and reason and that we would be part of your own pursuit of education and understanding to listen and discuss these matters,” Buras said.