A Michigan scientist who was put on academic trial for teaching evolution at Calvin College in the 1980s is emerging as a national figure in the cultural war over faith and science.
On Wednesday, Dr. Howard Van Till was one of four scholars from across the country who debated faith and evolution at a conference at Grove City College, a Christian liberal arts school near Pittsburgh.
And Sunday, he will lecture at Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church in Bloomfield Hills.
"This is such an important issue for Americans," said John Cook, a lawyer from West Bloomfield who plans to attend Van Till's talk. "This affects our faith, the way we read the Bible and the way we relate to science."
Till, 68, a retired physicist from Spring Lake, is trying to debunk literal biblical interpretations of the world's creation.
"Why are these issues producing so much anxiety right now? Because our concept of God as a supernatural power is deeply embedded in our lives as Americans," Till said this week.
"Scientists are raising all sorts of new questions about the natural world, and, when we do that, we make people very anxious," Van Till said. "One of the scientific positions that is making people very nervous right now is the atheistic arguments from scientists ... who say that there isn't any room left in the natural world for God."