Talking with Luke Deacon, President of the Science and Religion Club
“[In middle school] I heard the universe was expanding; an assumption can be that the universe came from a central point. A big bang. That creates tension for the Christian, and that interested me.” Senior Luke Deacon, president of the Science and Religion Club (SRC), can’t remember a time when “math and science didn’t click.” For him, the expanding universe and other challenges that STEM fields pose to the Christian faith are more like opportunities than problems—this is not the case for many liberal arts students. In more recent times, a rift—real or imagined—has opened up between science, religion, and the humanities. It’s unfortunate since many pressing issues—transgenderism, transhumanism, vaccines—come from the scientific angle.
Creating a bridge over the waters the separate science and religion is a central pursuit of the SRC—“there’s a warfare thesis,” says Luke, “an idea that science is in a battle with religion.” Bridging the two, or rather, showing the implicit connections between the two, is a good academic pursuit. It is even better in training people on how to approach the topics that affront or question Christian beliefs.
The Science and Religion Club formed because of professor Mitch Stokes’s involvement with Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford (SCIO), and their “Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities” initiative. Luke states the two-pronged purpose propelling SRC: “educating students on today’s scientific challenges, and unveiling the links connecting science, the humanities, and religion.” To meet these two goals, SRC has hosted events on subjects like Epistemology, Beauty and Science, Transgenderism, Transhumanism, Vaccines, and they’ve visited LIGO (The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), which is one of only two sites in the world. The events are focused on “contemporary issues,” says Luke, “which is important because these are the issues we’re [confronting] today.” Local physicians, professors, and visiting speakers lead discussions, sharing their expertise.
There is no silver bullet, no event or talk, that will accomplish SRC’s goals. Rather, says Luke, it’s a matter “daily keeping up” with the scientific community. It’s how Luke plans on continuing his personal drive to bridge science, religion, and the humanities, “It’s a matter of plodding. Keeping up with new key players, contemporary conversations.” Luke’s future hope for the Science and Religion Club is for “every student in the college to attend.” He’s already tacked on a book club (starting with Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction) and is planning to have more field trips as funds permit.
The Science and Religion Club furthers the New Saint Andrews mission to shape culture, because “you can’t shape culture if you’re not aware of what’s going on in the culture. Our’s is saturated by science.” A key tactic in scientific conversations, says Luke, is “recognizing people’s assumptions… It’s one of the biggest ways NSA has helped me. When I’m in an argument or discussion, listening to climate change activists, or whatever the situation, I’ve learned to get down to the root, to ask the ‘why’, until you drill down to a foundational level.” Uprooting assumptions, understanding contemporary issues, and bridging science, religion, and the humanities, are all part of the central motivation of New Saint Andrews: to bring God glory in everything.