Dialogue Events – February/March 2012

Sunday, Feb. 12 at 6pm

“Do You Understand What You’re Reading? Interpreting Genesis 1-11

Rev. Scott Hoezee, director, Center for Excellence in Preaching, Calvin Theological Seminary

In a recent conversation I was told by a CRC member of a church in Iowa that until we Calvin College and Seminary folks get Genesis right, we’ll never get anything right. As soon as I mentioned the need to interpret Genesis, he cut me off and said, “That’s just it! You have to stop interpreting it and just READ it!” But, of course, there is no such thing as just reading a text – every reading is itself an interpretation. The question is how to do this correctly and with credible, defensible reasons for any given interpretation. In this session we’ll explore the text of Genesis 1-11 and ponder how it was read in history as well as how it’s read in our present day.

Sunday, Feb. 19 at 6pm

“Evolution and One Christian Biologist: From Eyes Shut Tight to Eyes Open Wide to See God’s Greatness”

Arlene J. Hoogewerf, professor of biology, Calvin College

with comments by Brian Madison, assistant professor of religion, Calvin College

I remember watching “The Wizard of Oz” on TV when I was a child. I was so scared when the winged monkeys snatched Dorothy and Toto and carried them away that I shut my eyes and hummed to myself so I couldn’t see or hear what was happening. If I didn’t witness it, it was as if it didn’t happen. My early years as a biologist were characterized by a denial of the data concerning evolution, leaving me secure in my faith but uncomfortable as a scientist. Over the years I have become more courageous, opening my eyes more, so that I can both watch “The Wizard of Oz” and examine the data concerning evolution. I have become more confident in my calling as a scientist, and I am still secure in my faith in my creator and redeemer. What has surprised me the most has been how much more awesome God is when I have the courage to open my eyes to see him.

Sunday, Feb. 26 at 6pm

“Evolving Views on Creation and Neo-Darwinian Evolution”

Brian Madison, assistant professor of religion, Calvin College

with comments by Arlene J. Hoogewerf, professor of biology, Calvin College

The topic of creation vs. evolution is often portrayed as a mutually exclusive contrasting of the theological claim that all living things on earth are the result of God’s creative activity and the scientific claim that all living things on earth are the result of naturally occurring and empirically discernible processes. The topic changes – evolves – however, when one explores the meaning of what divine creation entails in a thoroughly biblical fashion as developed by Christian theologians over the centuries. We will explore essential Christian claims regarding God’s creation of the world and how these claims may or may not come into conflict with contemporary scientific descriptions of life on earth.

Sunday, March 4 at 6pm – Skeptics Sunday

“Is There a Place for God in a World Governed by Chance?”

James Bradley, emeritus professor of mathematics, Calvin College

with comments by Kelly James Clark, professor of philosophy, Calvin College

Evolution is a random, unguided process, and the Christian’s effort to leave room for divine intervention is simply wishful thinking. This scientific mantra is widely repeated in popular society, sometimes even by scientists themselves. But is it true? Does randomness preclude purpose? In this talk, I will try to clear up some confusion about what randomness is and whether it exists. I will also discuss some big questions for Christians, including: Is randomness consistent with the concept of a purposeful God? Does it conflict with God’s sovereignty? What might it tell us about God’s nature?


James Bradley is a professor emeritus of mathematics and computer science at Calvin College, where he has served since 1986. In 2000-2001 he was a visiting scholar with the U.S. Department of State. He began his career as a math and science teacher in India with the American Peace Corps. Prior to Calvin, he taught at Nazareth College and Roberts Wesleyan College, both in Rochester, NY. He has a B.S. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. Bradley is the author of numerous books and papers; in the past decade his primary focus has been the relationship between mathematics and theology.

Scott E. Hoezee is director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary. He joined the seminary faculty in 2005 after serving as pastor in two Christian Reformed congregations. He is also co-director of The Ministry Theorem, a project of Calvin Theological Seminary and the Calvin College Science Division that provides continuing education to pastors and ministry leaders in how to effectively integrate science into the life of the church. From 2001-2011 he served as a co-editor of Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought. A graduate of Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, Hoezee is the author of several books, including Proclaim the Wonder: Preaching Science on Sunday.

Arlene Hoogewerf is a professor of biology at Calvin College, where she chairs the Biology department. She earned a B.S. degree in biology from Calvin and a Ph.D. in nutritional biology from Cornell University. She conducted post-doctoral research with both the UpJohn Company, where she studied cancer and infectious diseases, and Glaxo Pharmaceutical Company, where she researched inflammatory diseases. Her current research interests include bacterial communities called biofilms, heavy metal resistance in bacteria, biotechnology, and nutrition. She joined the Calvin faculty in 2000.

Brian Madison is an assistant professor of religion at Calvin College and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). His research and teaching interests include the dialogue between Christian theology and the natural sciences, Christian theologies of creation, and the interaction of religion and modernity. He holds degrees from Drew University and Princeton Theological Seminary, and is pursuing a Ph.D. from Duke University. He joined the Calvin faculty in 2008.

Program Poster

[Download as PDF]

Wednesday Evening Discussions

To complement the Sunday series, Jim Bradley will lead three Wednesday evening sessions to view and discuss lessons from the DVD series “Religion and Science: Pathways to Truth” hosted by Francis S. Collins. The dates are Feb. 1, 8, and 15, at 7pm in the church living room.