Lipscomb University

Christian Scholars' Conference

[Archives of 2011 CSC]

Plenary Speakers



The Robert E. and Bonnie Cone Hopper Plenary Address:
Francis S. Collins
"Reflections on the Current Tensions between Science and Faith"

Francis S. Collins, a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes, and his visionary leadership of the Human Genome Project, is the former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Collins earned a B.S. in chemistry at the University of Virginia (1970), a Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Yale University (1974), and an M.D. at the University of North Carolina (1977). As a faculty member at the University of Michigan, Collins used "positional cloning" strategies to hunt for gene mutations responsible for specific human diseases. In 1989, his research team published a landmark discovery, revealing the gene mutation responsible for cystic fibrosis.

In addition to leading the Human Genome Project to completion, Collins initiated a wide range of research projects that built upon the foundation laid by the sequencing of the human genetic blueprint. He is author of The Language of God (2006), a best-selling book about Collins' conversion to Christianity, and his personal conviction that the natural world directs us to belief. In 2007, Dr. Collins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.





Reverend Dr. John Polkinghorne
"The Quest for Truth in Science and Theology"

Reverend Dr. John Polkinghorne is the founding president of the International Society for Science and Religion and he is one of the founders of the Society of Ordained Scientists. He is internationally recognized for his contribution to the study of theology and science, and has published several books that combine his two areas of expertise: theological inquiry and scientific investigation. They include: Science and Providence (1989); The Faith of a Physicist (1994); Belief in God in an Age of Science (1998); Faith, Science and Understanding (2001); The God of Hope and the End of the World (2003); and Science and the Trinity (2004).

Polkinghorne earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. at Trinity College, Cambridge. Polkinghorne's career changed in 1979 when he resigned as Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge to pursue theological studies. In 1989 he was named President of Queens' College, Cambridge, where he served until 1996. He is currently a Fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge, and a Canon Theologian of Liverpool Cathedral. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974 and Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1997. He was awarded the Templeton Price for Science and Religion in 2002.






Simran Sethi
"Our Daily Bread: Food, Faith and Conservation"

Simran Sethi is an Emmy award-winning journalist and associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, where she teaches courses on sustainability and environmental communications. Sethi is the contributing author of Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy, winner of the bronze 2008 Axiom Award for Best Business Ethics Book. She is also the founding host/writer of the Sundance Channel's environmental programming The Green, and the creator of the Sundance online series The Good Fight, highlighting global environmental justice efforts and grassroots activism.

Named one of the top ten eco-heroes of the planet by the UK's Independent and lauded as the "environmental messenger" by Vanity Fair and "environmental woman of impact" by Daily Variety, Sethi has contributed numerous segments to Nightly News with Brian Williams, CNBC, the Oprah Winfrey Show, Today Show, Ellen DeGeneres' Show, the Martha Stewart Show, and History Channel. Sethi was the host of the Emmy-award winning PBS documentary, "A School in the Woods." She was the 2009 recipient of the Smith College Medal, awarded to alumnae demonstrating extraordinary professional achievements and outstanding service to their communities, and the 2010 recipient of the American College Personnel Association Champion of Sustainability award for leadership on sustainability within academe.





Ted Peters
"Stem Cells: Who's Fighting With Whom About What?"

Ted Peters, Ph.D. University of Chicago, is Professor of Systematic Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Peters served as Principal Investigator for a research project funded by the National Institutes of Health on "Theological and Ethical Questions Raised by the Human Genome Inititiative" hosted at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, 1990-1994.

Based on his research, he has written Playing God? Genetic Determinism and Human Freedom (2nd ed., 2002). He edited the findings of the CTNS-NIH project for publication in a multi-author book titled, Genetics: Issues of Social Justice (1998); and he authored The Stem Cell Debate (2007). Along with Karen Lebacqz and Gaymon Bennett, he is co-author of Sacred Cells? Why Christians Should Support Stem Cell Research (2008).

Peters currently serves on the Scientific and Medical Accountability Standards Working Group for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the Genetics Task Force of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. He is a Lutheran theologian - an ordained pastor in the ELCA - teaching in an ecumenical institution with students from an array of differing denominations.