Reason & Wonder

Renewing the Discussion Between Faith and Science

Jay Smith, YTI President and Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics

May 3, 2017

The Inaugural Klein S. Gilhousen Lecture for the Conversation Between Faith and Science

God has a way of turning lemons into lemonade. Approximately one year ago this past April, the co-founder of Yellowstone Theological Institute, Klein Gilhousen, passed away from complications following a battle with lymphoma. Klein was a brilliant systems engineer; a polymath, and he believed in the vision of Yellowstone Theological Institute. He believed that the conversation between faith, and every area of human endeavor was crucial. As a systems engineer, the language of science and technology was as natural as the language of faith. The proceeds of Klein’s memorial gifts were used to found the “Klein S. Gilhousen Center for Faith and Science”.

Chance Meeting?

Dr. Eric Priest holds the sun in the palm of his handFast forward to the summer of 2016, July 4th. At an Independence Day picnic in Bozeman, hosted by a prominent professor at Montana State University, I had the privilege of making the acquaintance of Dr. Eric Priest, emeritus Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. It only took a few minutes of conversation to find out that we shared many passions – music, faith, and the dialogue between religion and science. This friendship eventually resulted in a visit to St. Andrews, Scotland for the James Gregory lecture on science and religion. It was at this time that we discussed the possibility of Dr. Priest’s delivering of the Gilhousen lecture during his next visit to Bozeman. Dr. Priest graciously agreed to deliver the inaugural lecture this summer, on the topic, “Reason and Wonder: Integrating Science and Faith.”

Science and Faith: Competing Worldviews?

Yellowstone Theological Institute is dedicated to the imaginative and reasonable conversation between faith, science, and the arts. We believe that there is no good reason prohibiting the conversation, and every good reason to press forward. Western culture has reached an impasse in how it understands the reality around us. There is the fundamentalist view of science, which says that empirical knowledge is the only legitimate knowledge on one hand. On the other hand, there is the fundamentalist view of religion, which says that all knowledge is from God, and is thus tied to a rigid theistic worldview. These two competing worldviews have strained the general relations between science and faith, when this intolerance can be easily avoided. Both views inform a holistic understanding of human reality, and both must be considered when charting the course for humanity. It must start with a conversation.

Blazing a Trail for Conversation

Like Klein Gilhousen, Eric Priest is a brilliant thinker, and passionate man of faith. He loves the exploration and adventure of science, as well as the passion and challenge of music. Beneath this inquiring mind, however, is a passionate, rational, and yet profound faith. He will blaze a trail for his audience that will open the possibility, if not the probability, of a renewed discussion between faith and science for daily life. He will help us rethink how we understand the exploration of science and the meaning of faith. His inaugural Gilhousen lecture will set the tone for years to come.