COFAS conference will focus on bridging the gap between faith and science

The conference on faith and science will cover how people can be both a Christian and a scientist

A group of students and teachers will gather together in the ASU Student Pavilion to discuss a topic that seems to allude many people: the gap between faith and science. 

This is the main idea behind the Conference on Faith and Science

The attendees of the conference will come together to discuss how they can pursue “science and Christian faith for human flourishing," the theme of the conference, on March 22-23.

The event is free to all students, and those interested need to register online to attend. There will be speakers from the American Scientific Affiliation, Society of Catholic Scientists, Howard University and others.

Ben Sanders, one of the co-directors of COFAS, said a major reason for putting on the conference was to ditch the misconception that students cannot pursue both their Christian faith and career in the scientific field.

“Unfortunately, a lot of students today feel like they can't pursue science and their faith together,” Sanders said. “We're trying to show that it’s possible … (and that there are) role models for them." 

Jit Muthuswamy, an associate professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, is a speaker for the biological, biomedical and health sciences track of COFAS. He said this is a very prevalent and normal thought people have.

He said the focus of this event is to get scientists who are also Christian together and show students that there is no conflict between the two.

Sanders said that another major topic for the conference will be how faith causes Christians to seek human flourishing through the idea of bringing 'shalom,’ or peace, into the world. 

“The call to love our neighbor, which is considered the second and greatest commandment as Jesus said,” Sanders said. “So how do we love people through our work in science guided and inspired by Christian faith?”

Sanders said that, while the conference focuses on the Christian faith and isn’t meant to be a forum for debate, the conference is open to everyone.

The conference will begin with an opening session, and after, everyone will break out into smaller groups and join the tracks that they selected during registration. 

There are six offered tracks which include topics such as health sciences, engineering and sustainability. These tracks will be led by teams that include field professionals, pastors, students and more.

Sanders said that COFAS also shows unity in the church by having the participation of people in Evangelical, Orthodox and Catholic churches.

“The idea of unity is very important,” Sanders said. “That's really what we're trying to do is show that while we do have doctrinal disagreements on certain points of Christian doctrine … on the most important things we do agree, and we need to show that as a united witness to the university.”

Muthuswamy said he hopes that students will carry on this dialogue after they graduate.

“I think that faith is not something to be ashamed of,” Muthuswamy said. “It's something that has helped me tremendously with my life. I hope people see the value (of it)”

Hannah Parmelee, co-director of COFAS and campus minister for Oasis at ASU, said COFAS is a place that allows professors to discuss something that isn't oftentimes discussed – the relationship between one’s faith and professional lives.

“(COFAS creates a place) for professors to have the opportunity to share their own stories of how their faith has impacted them professionally, and how their professional lives also impact their faith,” Parmelee said.

Parmelee said that seeing the integration of faith and science can allow new ways of thinking to form.

“Understanding (faith and science) together gives us a more robust way of thinking about ourselves and the world and God,” Parmelee said.

Benjamin Agbo, a senior studying chemical engineering at the School of Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, said he hopes to experience many things from the speakers at the conference and is excited to attend. 

“Seeing these top-notch scientists talk about how their research relates with God — it's a mind-blowing experience,” Agbo said. “I'm really excited about learning what these people have to say and how we can also learn how to involve God in all we do in the science and other fields.”


Reach the reporter at tlhill9@asu.edu and follow @hilltroy99 on Twitter. 

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