Teaching as an Act of Faith: Theory and Practice in Church-Related Higher Education

By Arlin C. Migliazzo | Go to book overview

6
Christian Theism: Alive and
Well in the Physics and
Astronomy Classroom

Lois Kieffaber


MY PILGRIMAGE AND UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES

WHEN I BEGAN my teaching career at a state university, I received very little mentoring either in teaching or in my spiritual life. I lived a compartmentalized life, never mentioning my religious beliefs in professional settings and confining my spiritual life to Sundays and morning devotions. I accepted my present position at a church-related college without having given any serious thought to whether I should be attempting to integrate my faith with my academic discipline, much less how I should go about it. My learning curve went something like this: five years to consider whether integration was worth doing; five years of floundering about on my own, trying first one thing and then another in my classes; finally the most recent five years of intentional reading on integrative topics, attending conferences on science and religion, and discussing issues with like-minded colleagues.1 This essay is an attempt to speed up the implementation process for others who have taken the first step of deciding that integrating faith and professional life is worth doing. My attempts to integrate issues of faith and values into my classroom teaching of physics and astronomy are guided by the three following principles.

1 I am grateful to The Pew Charitable Trust for its support of the Calvin
College Summer Seminars in Christian Scholarship, in particular the "Theol-
ogy and the New Physics" seminar with Dr. John Polkinghorne, Summer 1998,
which was devoted to connections between physics and theology.

-117-

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