The Voice: Spring 2003

The Voice

Sikkema to participate in Oxford seminar

Dr. Arnold Sikkema has been selected to participate in the John Templeton Oxford Seminars on Science and Christianity at Oxford University in England over the next three years, beginning this summer. For one month each summer, Sikkema and his fellow participants will do scholarly research in the field of science and religion, giving them an opportunity to have dialogue with other scholars from around the world in the sciences and humanities, and helping them broaden their scholarship and refine their ideas. The thirty-five participants will be mentored by recognized scholars. They will interact in workshops, discussion groups, and research counseling.

The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities underwrites the project, which is supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Participants are invited to present their research at workshops during the seminars, but are also expected to continue their research between seminars. They will give lectures to experts and to lay audiences, attend conferences where appropriate, publish in scholarly or popular journals, and generally communicate information about the field.

Participants selected for the seminars were judged to be committed to and competent in the field of science and religion; to have experience in interdisciplinary thinking; to be likely to complete their projects with distinction and disseminate the results to the scholarly community; and to be likely to incorporate information into their teaching and other activities in the field. In addition, participants needed institutional support in the form of release time from their host institutions. Sikkema will have a three-quarter-time release next spring to work on two current projects.

For his project, Sikkema plans to investigate, from a Reformed, Christian perspective, the question of causality (the scientific understanding of cause and effect) in relation to complex systems.

“Much of what has developed as Christian perspective in science deals with either science generally or pre-20th-century physics,” says Sikkema. He wants to address the impact of recent developments in physics, such as quantum field theory and complex systems, on our Christian understanding of the universe.

Sikkema teaches physics at Dordt College. He received his Ph.D. in theoretical condensed matter physics from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.