On March 29-31, we gathered in Houston, TX for the 2017 BioLogos Conference: Christ and Creation. With a top-notch lineup of speakers, including Francis Collins and NT Wright, we were pleased to welcome over 370 attendees from 35 states and 11 countries, with many more joining from around the world via live stream.
The opening evening featured talks by theologian NT Wright and scientist (and BioLogos founder) Francis Collins. Wright’s plenary brought to life the conference theme, persuasively arguing that if all things were created through Christ, then the life and teachings of Christ should reshape our understanding of the way God works and creates. Collins’ talk powerfully reflected on his own story of faith in Christ and the importance of taking both science and Christian belief seriously. The audience was energetic and engaged, submitting over 100 questions by text message during the discussion time! As personal friends and able musicians, Collins and Wright closed with two delightfully memorable songs about science, faith, and new creation -- with the melodies borrowed from Bob Dylan and the Beatles complementing the newly-penned Wright-Collins lyrics. The evening closed as Wright and Collins joined the conference worship team, led by Aaron Niequist of Willow Creek Community Church, in Scripture reading and singing In Christ Alone and other songs with us all.
The themes of the opening night echoed throughout other conference presentations as well. BioLogos President and astronomer Deb Haarsma led the audience on a Christocentric tour through the beauty of cosmological creation, while biologist April Maskiewicz Cordero showed some of the evidence for God’s gradual evolutionary creation of life on earth as well. Some of the apparent challenges to Christian orthodoxy posed by evolution were explored by philosopher and BioLogos Senior Editor Jim Stump, while Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight presented on their new book Adam and the Genome, which provides a close examination of the Bible’s teaching on Adam along with the science of human origins.
Sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund broke down many misconceptions about scientific and Christian communities in her presentation of her own years of research of these groups, and Cornell geneticist Praveen Sethupathy shared an incisive presentation on the search for truth in both science and Christian belief. These talks modeled a compelling articulation of the undimmed beauty and persuasiveness of the Christian faith, without dodging the scientific discoveries that lead many outside the church to see Christianity as outmoded. This vision of confidently-engaged belief was further articulated on the nearby campus of Rice University, where Francis Collins joined biomedical entrepreneur and fellow Christian Tony Coles for a BioLogos co-sponsored event on “Science, Religion, and Public Life.” To the standing-room-only audience on this leading secular campus, Collins and Coles shared their own faith and how it motivates their work in science and biomedical research.
The conference closed with a talk by prominent Christian author Andy Crouch, followed by discussion with local Houston pastor Harvey Clemons, Jr. Their contributions equipped and inspired attendees to continue the conversation in their own communities, with particular relevance for pastors seeking to lead their congregations in a richer understanding of God’s creative work in the world.
The conference provided a profoundly meaningful time of community and fellowship for our attendees, many of whom often feel isolated in their home churches or universities. Attendees sat around tables during sessions, having table discussions after each talk and getting to know the diverse range of other people in attendance -- pastors and other ministry leaders, researchers and scholars, students and educators, and parents and children. Numerous attendees described these times as an unexpectedly powerful highlight of the conference. And with several major publishers onsite offering large discounts on great books, attendees left with plenty of reading to do!
Numerous additional topics were explored in over 20 additional breakout presentations during the conference. Topics included science, theology, and biblical interpretation, as well as international perspectives on science and faith. Other presenters shared case studies and best practices for engaging the science and faith dialogue in a number of contexts, including campus ministry, undergraduate education, Sunday school and sermons, and public education. Biblical scholar John Walton and evolutionary biologist Jeff Schloss also gave in-depth workshops, allowing attendees to dig deep into these topics.
Thirteen of the conference speakers were part of BioLogos Voices, a speakers bureau featuring some of the top scholars and communicators in the BioLogos community. With expertise including biological and physical sciences, history and philosophy, and biblical studies and theology, these speakers made a range of thoughtful contributions to the conference. (Click here to explore our Voices bureau or to inquire about inviting a speaker to your area!)
As is always the case at BioLogos, worship was central to our conference activities, and we were pleased to be led by a thoughtful group of musicians who carefully crafted the worship times. From hymns to spirituals to worship songs, along with reciting the Lord’s Prayer reading Scripture together, each day was bookended with times of meaningful praise and reflection. These times were powerful and essential, reminding us why we were all there and why we care about the world of science; it is because the study of creation reveals the glory of its Creator, bringing us closer to the Christ through whom all things were made.
We invite you to watch the session recordings, and stay tuned in the coming weeks as we add breakout session recordings and post updates on the next BioLogos National Conference. We’ll hope to see you there!
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