Abstracts for Keynote Addresses and Breakout Sessions

Below you will find the abstracts for each of the keynote addresses and breakout sessions. The abstracts have been divided into keynote addresses, listed first, followed by the breakout sessions, and ordered alphabetically by the speaker’s last name.

Keynote Addresses

Dr. Susan Benecchi and Gladys Kober:

“Astronomy as a Tool for the Science & Faith Dialogue in High School Classrooms"

Perceived conflicts between science and faith play a key role in current shifts toward secularism among Christian young adults, yet people within the church are not prepared to discuss valid questions in scientific areas and are sometimes afraid to even broach the topic. Therefore, a great need exists for educators in Christian environments to be equipped to strengthen and engage students’ thinking during these formative years; these issues cannot be avoided. This involves giving students space to ask hard questions in a safe environment and inviting them to wrestle with controversial topics and evidence, while also providing the tools needed to think critically, to discern philosophical agendas, and to correct misconceptions. The end goal is for students to recognize science and faith are not at odds, rather they are complementary.

Astronomy is a subject that for eons has had its place in both science and theology. Even those who consider themselves “non-scientific” are awe-inspired by observations of the heavens. Using this as a starting point for dialogue about science and faith, a rigorous modern science curriculum was developed to help engage students in these sometimes difficult but fundamental discussions. The textbook has two parts and offers separate instructions on: (1) engaging in respectful and thoughtful dialogue concerning science and faith issues, including identifying and building strong logical arguments, and (2) astronomy as a scientific discipline. Educators can choose how much they combine the two parts. Sprinkled throughout the chapters are interviews with Christian professional astronomers which we hope will inspire and encourage Christian students to pursue their dreams. 

Dr. Deborah Haarsma:

Some science and faith issues can be uncomfortable or intimidating to talk about in the classroom because of the variety of viewpoints held within the Christian community. It can be easy to avoid these topics altogether, but our students' lives are going to be shaped by climate change, gene editing, artificial intelligence, and other yet-to-be-seen scientific developments. They have questions about what it means to be a Christian, and they need to know they do not need to choose between their faith and engaging with science. This talk will explore why it is vital to engage students on the hard but important questions in science and faith and will offer practical strategies to help do so in a way that promotes unity, gracious dialogue, and critical thinking.

Breakout Sessions

Tania Anderson:

“Science Methods in the Classroom: A Practical Application”

Partnering together, Museum of the Bible and Space Telescope Science Institute look forward to bringing practical science experiments to the classroom, encouraging educators to excite curiosity and wonder in new ways. Founded in 2005, the Youth for Astronomy and Engineering (YAE) program at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) offers extracurricular science and engineering activities. Our program is designed to introduce students to a variety of science careers and support their interests in becoming scientists, engineers, technologists, and mathematicians. We offer opportunities for students to meet with successful professionals and ask questions about what to expect in a field of interest and how to prepare for college and a career. Our hands-on events have included light and color activities using a spectroscope to learn about the composition of stars, assembling Galileo telescopes, and more. Come hear how Tania Anderson and her team are bringing engaging science practices to the classroom.

Dr. Susan Benecchi:

“Apply It! Using Astronomy as a Tool for the Science and Faith Dialogue in High School Classrooms”

Attendees will participate in a sample class where we model what the science and faith dialogue might look like in the classroom. The lecture material and discussion questions are derived from the textbook The Crossroads of Science and Faith: Astronomy Through a Christian Worldview which is designed to help students learn about the nature of scientific inquiry and the search for truth from both a scientific and faith perspective. We will use a topic from the study of cosmology and a simple hands-on laboratory activity to frame our discussion. Other topics that lend themselves well to this discussion include life in the universe and fine-tuning. We will discuss definitions, consider scientific evidence and the various interpretations of these facts as they relate to underlying worldview assumptions. Finally, we will consider how evidence can be used to equip students to develop a cohesive worldview and to face the secular environment with confidence. This workshop is designed to help teachers lead this type of dialogue. It will also include a discussion about how the interactions and activities might be modified for classes of various sizes, student diversity, interactive spaces (in-person, hybrid, online), and in different types of settings (classrooms, small groups, etc.). 

Dr. Ted Davis:

“The Bible, Christian Beliefs, and the Scientific Revolution”

What was the “Scientific Revolution”? What is the traditional view of this episode, reflected in many high school and college history textbooks? How has recent historical scholarship changed the traditional picture, especially regarding the role of religious beliefs? Explore these questions and more in this breakout session. Ideal for teachers of European history, religion, theology, philosophy, or natural science.

Recommended resources: Lawrence M. Principe, The Scientific Revolution: A Very Short Introduction; “The Scientific Revolution: Its Classical and Christian History,” 40 lectures by Ted Davis at ClassicalU.com. 

Michaela Hernandez and Craig Perrier:

“Teaching Scripture and Science: Using the IDM to Engage Curiosity in the Classroom”

The Inquiry Design Model (IDM) is taking classrooms by storm across the country, but what makes this methodology so unique? How can educators teaching about the dialogue between the Bible and science utilize this resource in their own classrooms? Join educators Craig Perrier and Michaela Fehn Hernandez as they share about what the IDM is, what the IDM looks to accomplish, and how educators can bring curiosity-driven learning using museum collections to their classrooms featuring resources from Museum of the Bible. This session will also highlight Museum of the Bible’s newest Inquiry Design Model lesson-plan kit, “How Have People of Faith Historically Impacted the Study of Science?” soon to be published onc3teachers.org.

Gladys Kober:

“Science & Faith Discussions in High School Classrooms”

In this workshop, attendees will engage in dynamic discussions in the intersection of science and faith. Are science and faith incompatible? Is faith irrational? Will science ever be able to answer all our questions and replace faith? These questions are rarely addressed in high school classrooms.

The discussions in this workshop are a small sample taken from the textbook The Crossroads of Science and Faith: Astronomy Through a Christian Worldview. The first part of this curriculum is an introduction to the science & faith dialogue, where students learn about the nature of scientific inquiry, the scientific method and its applicability, and the two approaches for understanding the world. They also learn about different worldviews and how to discern between philosophical agendas and scientific information. The text presents four views on the relationship between science and faith—conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration—and encourage students towards dialogue and integration. Perceived conflicts are investigated and attitudes that deserve to be questioned on both sides are exposed. The curriculum also provides a guide for helping students defend their faith with sound reasoning avoiding common logical fallacies. The workshop’s goal is to equip and strongly encourage educators to include science and faith discussions in their classrooms.

Curator Wes Viner:

“How (Not) to Make Friends and Influence People: The Life of Galileo Galilei”

Popular ideas about the “conflict” between Christianity and science often highlight the story of Galileo. Galileo, according to the common narrative, bravely took a stand against a tyrannical church intent on halting the advance of science. He was muzzled, oppressed, jailed, and—depending on who tells the story—possibly even tortured for his scientific views. This widespread story, though, is wildly inaccurate. This talk will explore the true story of Galileo, examining his conflict with the church and considering the broader implications for the relationship between Christianity and science.

Dr. Jennifer Wiseman:

“What the Heavens Declare:  Power, Beauty, Wonder, and Life”

Recent advances in astronomy are revealing a dynamic universe filled with massive galaxies, beautiful star-forming nebulae, black holes, and even planetary systems around other stars.  The universe also hosts mysteries of dark matter, dark energy, and the possibility of life beyond earth.   These wonders can inspire many diverse human reactions:  awe, curiosity, fear, praise, dismay, and joy.  In Scripture, the heavens exemplify divine glory.  In this session, we’ll consider some of the coolest discoveries in modern astronomy and consider how these relate to faith, and how they re-kindle ancient questions that can enliven the classroom:  How do the heavens impact faith, hope, and love on planet Earth?  What is the place and significance of human life in this vast, dynamic Cosmos?