TCF partners with Union University
TCF staff members Michael Gulker and Rob Barrett were recently invited to participate in a forum hosted by Union University and co-sponsored by TCF at a retreat center in Memphis, Tennessee. This event was part of an ongoing project at Union and continues a two-year old partnership with TCF. The Union faculty group regularly convenes scholars from a variety of disciplines in order to explore questions related to faith and science. This particular gathering focused on issues of origins (of the universe, of the earth, and of human beings) in light of three questions:
1. What are the main difficulties and sources of tension in faith-science questions?
2. What might a resolution look like?
3. What would it take to change your mind?
The event was characterized by the sorts of relationships that can flourish only in the context of ongoing interactions. In this sense, TCF was grateful to observe and participate in the development of relationships which have withstood – and continue to withstand – moments of significant misunderstanding and differences in positions and perspectives. As the faculty group continues to fold in new members, these scholars “catch” the approach from the longstanding members and contribute their own unique perspectives and passions. The group is diverse and willing to probe controversial topics, so participants regularly encounter difficulties in their exchanges. But controversy is contextualized, finding its place within the group’s common commitment to one another in Christ, and to the common pursuit of truth in love. An important instance of this came at a juncture when one member called attention to the Apostles Creed as a unifying confession held in common by the entire group.
Another recurring theme was the necessity of relying upon expert knowledge in these discussions. Participants acknowledged 1) the vast amount of knowledge we simply don’t yet possess and 2) the particular challenge of expertise. This last consideration reveals significant humility, as participants frankly discussed the narrowness of any field to which a scholar might actually claim mastery. The increasing range of knowledge available necessarily requires intense specialization, leading to experts with quite precise limitations on their fields of proficiency. This, in turn, highlights the need for communal discernment, as only in the interaction of experts will truth fully come to light.
Union University has worked to foster charitable faith/science conversations for longer than TCF has been in existence. We are grateful for partners like Union who work to build strong networks of scholars who are willing to enter into discussions in the midst of sometimes difficult differences. We are privileged to support their work, and to learn from their ongoing efforts to foster relationships for the purpose of discerning the truth together.