Society brings light to Bible debate

Travelling lecturer Gunnar Dieckmann gave a presentation to an audience of about 20 students and faculty in the Alumni Memorial Union Thursday night.

Dieckmann lectured about the relationships and overlaps between science and the Bible. His presentation, entitled "The Genesis Test" focused on the creation story and Noah's ark, both of which are in the book of Genesis.

Members of the student organization, Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship, which is intended to help people develop a better relationship with God through prayer, conferences, mission trips and other activities, invited Dieckmann to speak.

Junior Kurt Vercimak, an athletic training major and Chi Alpha President, said the lecture provided a framework for faith.

"A lot of people have questions about this," Vercimak said. "It is important for people to truly find answers so they could have the ground for defense for what they believe. It is good to spark interest for people to get a foundation, a starting point."

Dieckmann discussed such issues as why there were differences in the two Genesis creation stories, how the fossil records coincide with the text, the physical problems with Noah's ark and Noah's problem of collecting each species of every animal. He stressed that the overlap between science and religion is small and concluded the Bible is based on and inspired by some sort of scientific occurrences.

But Dieckmann said it should not be treated as a realistic explanation of science. The Bible is a type of literature with its own cultural and historical contexts, according to Dieckmann.

Dieckmann's goal in the lecture was to remind Christians that it is sometimes necessary to verify the facts.

In his notes for the presentation, Dieckmann wrote, "We in the Christian community should not be afraid to check our beliefs. If we have the truth, this should be revealed. Questioning can serve to correct false views arising from incorrect interpretations or strengthen correct ones."

"A lot of people, faculty and students, are struggling with the relevance and the truth of the Bible and we felt that was an issue," said the Rev. Len Brisley, campus pastor for the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship.

"Both religious and non-religious people are asking questions and forming opinions about whether the Bible was true," he said. "The whole focus of our group is to seek truth and to dialogue about truth. One of the things we like to pursue is truth even beyond religious tradition. That's part of the reason we provided this lecture."

Dieckmann's lecture was part of a variety of appearances at other universities across the country. Before he started traveling full time, Dieckmann taught in the University of Wisconsin system.