The Augsburg Podcast

The Augsburg Podcast

Dale Pederson: Science and Faith

May 23, 2018

DALE PEDERSON: Science can in no way jeopardize religious faith any more than fundamental aspects of religion can inform science. Neither can tell us everything we would like to know about who we are and why we’re here.

PAUL PRIBBENOW: Science… and faith. For Dale Pederson, Associate Professor of Biology, the two are not mutually exclusive standpoints, but rather sympathetic traditions that can coexist in harmony, each offering their own rich and valid perspective on our human experience. Augsburg University educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. I’m Paul Pribbenow, the President of Augsburg University, and it’s my great privilege to present the Augsburg Podcast — one way you can get to know some of the faculty and staff I’m honored to work with every day.

DALE PEDERSON: My main responsibility has been in cell biology and I’m trained as a cell biologist. There aren’t many areas of biology that I don’t find interesting. My attitudes towards dealing with students are shaped by a strong Christian understanding. That is, you treat people fairly. You try not to pre-judge what it is that they’re capable of and likely to become. You give them the chance to reveal to you what they are capable of.

Time and time again, I’ve found that I have needed to try to alleviate misunderstandings some students have who imagine that, somehow, they are being unfaithful to their religious tradition if they—at the same time—accept what we know about the history of life on earth from the work of science, for example. They have to get over that misunderstanding in order to actually be able to function well in science. And I suppose, in some instances, there are people who have a misguided notion that somehow science excludes any value of religion. I hope it doesn’t have the effect of weakening people’s faith. I hope it relieves some of the anxiety, the tension, that comes from believing that you can’t simultaneously hold these two perspectives on life. You can.

I taught a section of a keystone course, which—about the first half of it was just given to the historical conflict between science and religion. Which, I mean, I find very interesting. I find it interesting that attitudes from the 1850s are still shaping conversations today. Over time there have been many instances in which students have discussed with me their faith tradition that had led them to believe that somehow it would be a violation of their faith to accept the fact that life on earth has evolved. And I’ve tried to explain to them that there is simply no way that science can somehow challenge the validity of their faith. That comes from a different source. At the same time, you don’t look to the Bible to help us understand, you know, how cells work. Science tells us about how the Heavens go, not how to go to Heaven.

PAUL PRIBBENOW: That was Dale Pederson, Associate Professor of Biology. Thanks for listening to The Augsburg Podcast. I’m President Paul Pribbenow. For more information, please visit