By Ryan Miller
The marriage of a theologian and a mother of scientists has blossomed into the
Miller-Jeschke Program for Christian Faith and the Natural Sciences, which will
encourage the examination of the relationship between faith and science by future
generations of Goshen College students and faculty.
In the summer of 2000, Elizabeth (Miller)
Jeschke completed the funding of a $100,000 endowment to support that vision.
The program, which funded the colleges first Conference on Religion and
Science April 6-8, was the culmination of Jeschkes many years of interest
in the interplay between the two disciplines.
That interplay is also of serious interest
for her husband, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion Marlin Jeschke,
who established and team-taught a course on religion and science with members
of the science faculty for about 15 years.
One of the professors partners in the
team-taught course was James S. Miller, professor of biology and Elizabeths
Marlin and the late Robert Buschert, professor
of physics, taught the course from its inception until Buscherts retirement.
Besides Miller, Marlin also taught with Associate Professor of Physics John
Ross Buschert 80 and Professor of Physics Carl Helrich, who continue to
teach the course as a senior seminar for science students.
Marlin proposed the course because of the
widespread perception in modern American society that there is a conflict between
science and Christianity, a perception fostered by historic clashes over the
heliocentric theory with Galileo and modern controversies over Darwins
At least two of Marlins other course
offerings at Goshen came as reactions to perceived incompatibilities with Christian
faith. The teaching that all non-Christians were automatically damned caused
him to start an Asian Religions course in the mid-1960s. And the denouncement
of communism led him to a Marxism and Christianity class.
Marlin believed science was a product of Western
Christianity, and the two disciplines, rightly understood, can and should complement
Its unfortunate we have this estrangement
between science and faith. The whole enterprise of science came out of the Christian
tradition, said Jeschke. At some points in modern history
faith and science lived in happy concord. According to Newtonian theory, every
telescope that discovered a new star enhanced the glory of God.
Elizabeth also talks to too many people who
believe science and religion are incompatible, and said she wants the two to
The Jeschkes began their personal acquaintance
after the deaths of each of their spouses. Elizabeth, on the advice of a family
member, contacted Marlin to ask about a few books relating faith and science.
Marlin sent the books from Goshen to Elizabeths home in Berlin, Ohio.
That mailing began a relationship that led
to marriage in the summer of 1994.
The pairing, and the eventual establishment
of an endowment, seems only appropriate considering Elizabeths interest
in religion and family connection to science in addition to James, her
children include nurse practitioner Kathy Fenton-Miller 81 and physicist
Tom 87 and Marlins interest in science and expertise in religion.
Marlin continues his outreach in a weekly radio address aired on campus radio
The Miller-Jeschke Program aims to stimulate
conversation and scholarship in an area often heavily influenced by secular
thinking. All Miller-Jeschke funds will be used to pay for new programs in the
natural science or Bible, religion and philosophy departments, including prominent
guest lecturers, faculty development grants, an annual award for a student paper
on science and faith, student or faculty summer research internships and conferences
like this years Miller-Jeschke Conference for Religion and Science.
Conference keynote speaker Nancey Murphy,
professor of Christian philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary, brings the
topics together in her book, Theology in the Age of Scientific Reasoning,
which won prizes from both the American Academy of Religion and the Templeton
Foundation. She also co-authored On the Moral Nature of the Universe: Theology,
Cosmology, and Ethics. Murphy is a member of the Board of Directors of the
Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences and an ordained minister in the
Church of the Brethren.
who planned the conference, limited attendance to 50 participants because of
the conference design, largely devoted to round-table interaction among participants
and Murphy, who is one of the foremost thinkers working on the boundary of theology
and science. In this setting and in group dining and worship sessions, those
attending the conference could explore ideas while promoting community. The
public was invited to Murphys two lectures.
This conference will help produce responsible,
Christian servants. It broadens our outlook as scientists beyond the sciences
into theology while building a community of thinkers, Helrich said. I
have developed tremendous respect for theologians. They use different language
than scientists, but think deep thoughts.
The Jeschkes hope this years conference
will be followed by others as the endowment continues to increase the dialogue
between science and faith.
The religion department is foundational
the underpinnings of the whole college and should be enhanced,
Elizabeth said. We would like to continue to present information to allow
the two programs to be plausible together.
Return to April Bulletin
Science and simplicity by
President Shirley H. Showalter
Traces of Gods handiwork in the universe by
of God: The search for truth and beauty by Carl Helrich
community: General education guides discussion by Ryan Miller with Beth
Martin Birky 83
The best of times, the worst
of times by Owen Gingerich 51
Science and spirit, hand
in hand by Debra Brubaker 79
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