One can believe in God and science.
"In my opinion, a scientific world is not hostile to a deity," said Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway.
Hemenway kicked off the "Science, Teaching and the Search for Origins," a conference on cosmology, geology and evolutionary biology Friday night, speaking to around 200 people at Budig Hall.
While deeply held religious beliefs should be respected, he said, they do not mean one should not learn about scientific theories.
"Whether one's religious beliefs lead one to believe in evolution or not, it is too important a concept not to learn," he said.
Knowledge, he said, does not require belief.
"No one should feel that they should choose between science and religion," he said.
The conference, which runs through today on campus, is focusing on the importance of teaching and studying the principles of scientific method in the study of nature, mostly aimed at primary and secondary teachers. Participants today will be able to hear Robert Pennock, a professor of philosophy at the College of New Jersey, speak on the teaching of evolution not contradicting religious beliefs, and a talk by P.J.E. Peebles, the Albert Einstein professor of physics at Princeton University.
The conference is not focusing on the recent Kansas State Board of Education standards controversy, although the topic came up during the chancellor's remarks.
"Obviously, there is going to be mention of the controversy," said Hume Feldman, the conference's organizer and an assistant professor of physics and astronomy. "But this conference is not going to be anti-creationist. I believe that presenting the scientific evidence is powerful enough; and, if people listen, that's good enough."
A talk by Ken Miller, a professor of biology from Brown University in Providence, R.I, followed the chancellor's remarks.
The conference, which is free and open to the public, continues today in Budig Hall, starting at 9:30 a.m., with talks on cosmology, geology, biology, and science and society.
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