The Physics of Fly Fishing

It’s not listed under the physics requirements in the catalogue, but David Lee, professor of physics, brings his knowledge and expertise to another class he’s teaching this semester: Fly Fishing. On the first day of the fourth quad semester and on a perfect March day—with temperatures in the 80s—Lee grabbed 16 rods for his students (eight women and eight men) who joined him on the Quad. They talked about mass density, the weight of objects, and of course, wrist techniques. Lee has taught the course before  at Gordon, and sees it as a good way to bring physics outside.

‘Reclaiming’ Christian Thought Inside Higher Ed

In today’s online news site, Inside Higher Education, Tal Howard, professor of history, teams up with Karl Giberson, author and adjunct professor of science, for a lively essay on ‘reclaiming’ Christian thought. Below is a short excerpt of the essay. Read the entire essay here.

“Restoring the Evangelical Mind Requires Courage”

” . . . If the idea of Christian perspectives raises your eyebrows, it might be time to brush up on Augustine, Aquinas, Dante, Pascal, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, Karl Barth, Martin Luther King, Edith Stein, Reinhold Niebuhr, and many others.  Consider, too, the recent scholarship of historians such as Mark Noll, Philip Jenkins, and the Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Larson; political theorists such as Jean Bethke Elshtain and Oliver O’Donovan; scientists such as Sir John Polkinghorne, Francis Collins, and physics Nobel laureate William Phillips; and philosophers such as Charles Taylor, Nicholas Wolterstorff and Alvin Plantinga.

Wolterstorff of Yale and Plantinga of Notre Dame, in fact, joined Biola recently for the inauguration of the Center, conducting a seminar with fellows focused on the Center’s first theme, ‘Christian Scholarship in the 21st Century: Prospects and Perils.’

Biola’s center is the latest chapter in a comeback of the ‘evangelical mind.’  While serious scholarship by self-professed evangelical Christians did not disappear entirely in the 20th century, it went into eclipse in the postwar period.  These decades, especially 1960-1980, saw the high-water mark for Western secularism when, contrary to subsequent evidence of religion’s persistence, Time Magazine in 1966 asked on its cover ‘Is God Dead?’  Social scientists in The New York Times confidently predicted in 1968 that ‘by the 21st century religious believers are likely to be small sects, huddled together to resist a worldwide secular culture.’

But of course a funny thing has happened on the way to the 21st century: God and religion came back, and institutions such as Biola are capitalizing on the rediscovery of homo religiosus, both as an object of inquiry and, more relevant for the case at hand, as an inquiring subject. . . .” (Read more.)

The (Science and Religion) Writing Life

First there was physics. Then there was writing. Now, Karl Giberson, director of Gordon’s Science and Religion Forum and adjunct professor, is merging the two not only with his numerous publications, but by teaching a special workshop for the 2012 spring semester on science and religion writing. Giberson’s recent book The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age (Harvard University Press) was reviewed January 6 in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. Assist News Service (ANS) recently cited him for his place on Religion Dispatches’ Top 10 List of Peacemakers in the Science and Religion Wars in 2011. (ANS’ feature was about Sir John Polkinghorne, about whom Giberson also co-authored a biography called Quantum Leap: How John Polkinghorne Found God in Science and Religion.)

When Giberson isn’t writing books, speaking (he will give the 2012 Crum Lecture at Gordon March 6) or teaching, he writes regularly for The Huffington Post and Books and Culture magazine. For his workshop at Gordon this spring, Giberson will have students write and research on issues related to Adam, which is the theme of his next book, Saving Adam: The First Human and The Rest of Us (Beacon). Here’s what Giberson said about both:

Saving Adam is a cultural history of the first man. Although the story is familiar it has a fascinating history. Adam was a minor character in the Old Testament, who all but disappears after being expelled from Eden. He becomes a central part of Christian theology when St. Paul links him to Christ—the Second Adam. Throughout the history of the West, the story of Adam and Eve has been a central reference point for understanding who we are and how we are supposed to live. But starting with the great age of exploration and subsequent advances in science, Christians have begun to reconsider the  history of the first man.

“I presented my students in the workshop with options for their own writing projects and they all chose to work with me on various aspects of this book project. I have biblical studies students looking at how the story has been interpreted by the Church fathers, science majors looking at the genetic evidence, and a Pike scholar looking at gender issues in the story. Some of their work might appear in Books and Culture because the editor has agreed to consider them for publication, and the students will organize a conference at the end of the semester to present their works as well as the work of other scholars.”


Band of Five Offer Summer Advising

DSC04979Call them Gordon’s Band of Five. In addition to already full summer schedules that include research projects, professional trips, and family vacations, these five full time faculty members have added another priority to their agenda: advising first year and transfer students in a new pre-orientation program. This Band of Five is comprised of a physicist, an accountant, a biologist, a minister and a literary critic, providing new students a range of insights and perspectives. And they’ve already answered a number of questions from incoming students about courses, majors and well, All Things Gordon. Meet them here.

Merry Ornaments!

DSC05022 David Lee, professor of physics and pre-engineering (pictured here with some of his students’ festive works), inspired much merriment before the holidays with the 4th Annual Geekiest Ornament contest.

Students in his Introduction to Engineering class demonstrated their ornaments by hanging them up (or not) and turning them on (if applicable). Criteria for the contest entries were that they must: Fit inside a 6 x 6-inch box; Weigh less than 1 kg.; If using a power source or projectile, must not be dangerous; Be actually hangable on a Christmas tree.

None met the criteria though the efforts were more than creative.

“While designing within stated limits is an engineering maxim, strict adherence to the rules wasn’t the point this time,” said Lee. “This was intended as a fun way for first year engineering students to mark the end of the semester and the beginning of Christmas break.”

Read more here.