Is [It] True?
Pepperdine Magazine is the feature magazine for Pepperdine University and its growing community of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends.
Philosophers and scholars have questioned the hypotheses about both the great mysteries
and the great certainties of the universe for many millennia.
In keeping with the founding purpose of the Veritas Forum—which gives students a safe place to ask the hard questions about “truth” from a Christian perspective—this year’s keynote speakers explored complex ideas about the veracity and logic behind the existence of God at the fifth annual conference held on February 18 and 19 on the Malibu campus.
Robin Collins, professor of philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy at Messiah College, spoke on the first night with a lecture titled “Is True? Fine-Tuning the Universe.” Discussing how the specific physical constants and conditions of the universe are finely tuned for intelligent life, thus providing logical reasons to believe in a creator, Collins drew from his backgrounds in the seemingly at-odds disciplines of both philosophy and physics.
“It’s great in an academic community to hear a great scholar present the case that their scholarly disciplines are not separate from their faith,” notes David Lemley, University chaplain.
Stephen Davis, professor of philosophy at Claremont McKenna College, followed along the next night, with a lecture titled, “Is True? Road(s) to Heaven.” Davis discussed religious pluralism—the idea that “all roads lead to heaven”—and whether or not some of the integral claims of “truth” in Christianity can plausibly be true.
“He built upon a famous idea of C. S. Lewis’ that either Jesus Christ was the Lord, was lying, or was a loon,” says Lemley. “Davis modeled the difficult task of being able to defend your convictions and faith while carrying that in a way that is respectful of other people.”
The Veritas Forum nonprofit organization was founded nearly 20 years ago by Harvard University student Kelly Monroe as an event for college students from all disciplines to further explore “truth,” share their questions, and discover the person of Jesus Christ.
“One of my favorite moments of both nights was when student leader Madeline Jackson welcomed the audience, saying that no matter what your background and perspective this is a place where you can be heard,” Lemley reflects. “The whole event, from the question-and-answer in which people are invited to ask their questions honestly to the follow-up small groups for students with faculty, says ‘We’re willing to ask the difficult questions of what we believe.’”
Abraham Park, assistant professor of finance at the Graziadio School, participated in the inaugural Veritas Forum at Harvard University nearly 20 years ago. Click here to listen to a special audio interview with Park about that experience and his role in spiritual life at Pepperdine today.