The Mars Hill Student Apologetics Club is hosting the second Philosophy Forum of the fall semester Friday, Sept. 13, from 4-5:15 p.m. The event will take place in Bailey Business Center in the Tulsa Royalties Auditorium. The primary purpose of Philosophy Forums is to bring philosophical issues of broad importance into the public sphere for open examination and dialogue.
The forum lecture will feature Dr. John McWilliams, professor of natural science and W.B. Blackstock Family Chair in Science Education. The theme of his lecture is “ET’s and God: Do Extraterrestrial Beliefs Affect Our Worldview?” The forum lecture will present a brief survey of the phenomenon to date and will end with an open discussion on its significance in the Christian worldview.
McWilliams will be speaking on the topic of UFOs and how that cultural mythology is affecting theology and the way people think about Christianity. He will discuss how the presupposition of the existence of aliens is affecting the everyday person’s view on Christianity. With the idea of aliens heavily influencing culture today, the fun and fascination with the topic is intruding in many places. This forum is an attempt to face this cultural influence head on and examine it through the lens of a biblical, Christian worldview.
“Analyzing UFO/ET concepts overlaps much with my background in life and earth sciences,” McWilliams said. “As a teen, I became interested in how these ideas meshed with my spiritual beliefs. I have conducted many workshops related to Christian apologetics. This topic, while always arousing interest as a pop culture topic, definitely has significant ties to important contemporary and even theological issues.”
Dr. Tawa Anderson, associate professor of philosophy and assistant director of the Honors Program, sponsors the Mars Hill Student Apologetics Club and organizes the Philosophy Forum series. He says there is a definite need for Christians to thoroughly examine this cultural belief in order to understand it from the Christian worldview.
“Acceptance of the existence of extra-terrestrial life has become the default position in American society today,” he said. “Many believe in aliens without ever considering the logical or scientific evidence for or against; moreover, many embrace such belief without asking how the existence of aliens would, or should, affect their overarching worldview, and vice versa. In this forum, students and faculty will be encouraged to consider the implications of belief in aliens across the board.”
Anderson noted that in the past, Philosophy Forums have been determined by the faculty of OBU's philosophy department, with input from colleagues across campus. This forum, however, is unique in that it was organized instead by OBU's Mars Hill Student Apologetics Club, a group of students who are passionate about understanding and articulating the reasons and evidence that support Christian faith.
“The Philosophy Department invited Mars Hill to organize one of our forums each semester, giving our student leaders the opportunity to craft and conduct events that impact and reach the entire campus,” Anderson said. “Our Mars Hill student leaders have been in dialogue with the Philosophy Department and with faculty in other departments to secure an appropriate topic and lecturer. I'm quite excited to see their work come to fruition.”
The Philosophy Department sponsors Philosophy Forums each semester to engage philosophical topics or questions of broad importance in a public sphere. The objects is to facilitate a campus culture which thoughtfully reflects upon the significant questions of our age in a Christ-honoring way.
“Sometimes we host faculty dialogues on important questions, or panel discussions on contentious issues,” Anderson said. “Sometimes we invite external scholars to address their areas of expertise. Other times, like this Friday, we have outstanding OBU faculty lecture on a topic that coincides with areas of passion and academic understanding.“We are thrilled to have Dr. John McWilliams join our Philosophy Forum series this fall. We are also grateful for the leadership and initiative of the Mars Hill Student Apologetics Club, which has organized this week's forum topic and speaker.”