ORU center brings learning, faith together
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, January 05, 2013
1/05/13 at 5:38 AM
A new Center for Faith and Learning at Oral Roberts University will seek to help students and faculty integrate Christian principles into every academic discipline at the school.
"Universities gain knowledge and pass it on, but life is more than knowledge," said Dominic Halsmer, who stepped down as dean of the School of Engineering on Jan. 1 to head the center. "What is the wise way to apply that knowledge? What is the meaning and purpose of life? How do you live skillfully?"
Halsmer said he conceived the idea of the center last year after realizing that his engineering students needed to be better prepared to discuss issues of science and faith.
"As Christians we ought to be thinking a little deeper about how these ideas integrate with the Christian faith and the Bible," he said.
He proposed the center to the university last spring, and "a lot of people liked the idea," he said.
One example of what the center might explore, he said, is the ongoing dialogue between science and religion.
"How can principles of engineering mediate between science and religion?
"As an engineer, much of the dialogue hinges on the question of design," he said, "but that's not the forte of the scientist, or the theologian. That's the forte of the engineer.
"The best way to understand the cell is to treat it as an engine. They are little machines. We still have to wonder about the laws of nature that have allowed for this fabulous engineering."
Halsmer said he was not comfortable being labeled a creationist, or theistic evolutionist or an advocate of intelligent design.
"It seems as though God has left it open to human beings. He doesn't allow us to prove his existence through nature. It's a kind of paradox.
"It's not something we can lay out in a mathematical proof, but at the same time, it's possible to uncover evidence that speaks powerfully for his existence."
Halsmer said the center will work with students and faculty in all disciplines, encouraging them to write and speak and "think a little deeper."
He will develop seminars on campus and watch for conferences and grant opportunities that students and faculty might be interested in.
"ORU is known for raising up student leaders that hear God's voice," he said. "The Center for Faith and Learning will create an environment that not only encourages students to hear God's voice during their personal devotions, but also in the midst of their academic pursuits."
He said several universities in the Christian Coalition of Colleges and Universities have started initiatives for integrating faith and learning.
Original Print Headline: ORU center brings learning, faith together
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
Dominic Halsmer is the director of the new Center for Faith and Learning at Oral Roberts University. Courtesy