Calvary Albuquerque hosted Expose, a TED Talk-style discussion, Thursday night in Woodward Hall at the University of New Mexico in hopes to connect faith and reason through conversation.
“I hope this event gets people thinking,” said Sean Kerwin, the assistant pastor at Christian church Calvary Albuquerque and a UNM alum.
The event showcased several speakers: local apologist Grant Bersett, former lead singer of Anberlin Stephen Christian and archaeologist and UNM alum Dr. Steven Collins.
As an apologist, Bersett aims to present a historical, reasoned and evidential foundation for Christianity.
He opened the event by asking the audience if there is a meaning to life and if there is a God.
“I want to suggest tonight that Christianity, for you to consider if you’re not a Christian, is historically verifiable and it’s evidence-based,” Bersett said.
Christian added a lighter tone to the event by offering an anecdote about why there is power in “failing forward.”
“Failing and falling flat on your face is the prerequisite to success,” Christian said. “To my knowledge, no great shift in culture or ground-breaking invention was ever discovered the first try.”
Dr. Collins challenged the theories taught at universities about the Bible by saying that they are outdated.
“(Scholars) haven’t had a new thought since 1895, but (the theories) are still being taught as factual,” he said.
Throughout his speech, he used archeological findings to scientifically justify the Bible’s factuality.
“It’s hard, because people say, ‘Well you’re a Christian, of course you would say stuff like that,’” Dr. Collins said. “First and foremost, I like to call myself an evidential factualist; I want the facts.”
Dr. Collins said tying Biblical faith to anthropology is important, because it “rises out of reality” and is “tied to reality.”
“Mark Twain defined faith as believing in something that you know really isn’t true, and that’s not biblical faith,” he said.
Dr. Collins said in response to universities across the country teaching outdated theories that if UNM is interested in exploring higher critical theory to “give them (his) phone number.”
“(If) they want to balance their view on the Bible and the Old Testament with something from a different perspective, sort of a little academic balance, give me a call, and I’ll be over,” he said.
UNM students who attended the event said that the University was not doing anything wrong by hosting an event with a religious message on campus.
“I think it’s perfectly acceptable; it’s not like it’s a requirement for people to come,” said Heather Averhoff, a sophomore studying physical sciences who identifies as an atheist. “It’s not like UNM is enforcing an agenda, and everybody has to follow it.”
She attended the event out of curiosity and with hopes to bridge the gap in communication that she says is evident in our culture today.
“I believe there is a lot of breakdown in communication, especially between liberals and conservatives, and a lot of lack in listening,” Averhoff said. “I figured that if I tried to learn from the opposite perspective, maybe we could actually talk about things and resolve issues.”
Isaac Gutierrez, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said he came into the event not knowing what to expect.
“Once they started talking about Christian views, I was intrigued just because I grew up with those views,” he said.
Gutierrez said UNM should look to host more events like these, showcasing people with “good” titles like the people who spoke Thursday night.
Kerwin said his favorite scene in any movie is in “Dead Poets Society” when Robin Williams hops on a table and challenges his students to see the world they are used to in a different perspective.
“That’s kind of our hope here,” he said. “To get people thinking about our world from a new perspective.”
Madison Spratto is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Madi_Spratto.