Dalton Lecture Series: Visiting professor asks tough questions

By Heather DeRosa, Class of 2014

On Feb. 20, George Fox held its annual Dalton Lecture Series, sponsored by the biology and chemistry departments. There was an overwhelming turnout, as a standing room only crowd packed Bauman Auditorium. This year’s lecture series was given by Dr. Henry F. Schaefer III, Graham Purdue professor of chemistry and the director for the Center of Computational Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia. In his lecture, titled “The Big Bang, Stephen Hawking, and God,” Dr. Schaefer explored a wide range of research related to this topic. The night was a mixture of science, laughs, and the comparing and contrasting of big ideas.

Dr. Schaefer spoke about his own accomplishments, his favorite being that he is “the MIT nerd that married the homecoming queen of my high school.” He graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s degree in chemical physics, and then went on to earn his PhD in the same field from Stanford University. Since then, he has written 1,400 scientific articles, presented lectures at more than 240 conferences, and has spoken at 50 universities.

The professor also asked and confronted hard questions during his lecture, presenting both his own and other researchers’ findings on the following:

  • Is the universe infinite?
  • Is the universe eternal, or did it have a beginning?
  • Was the universe created? If not, how did it get here?

Dr. Schaefer concluded his talk with a list of solutions to the questions he posed near the beginning. The most poignant one being: “The Creator must have awesome power and wisdom. The quantity of material and the power resources within our universe are truly immense. The information or intricacy, manifest in any part of the universe, and especially in a living organism is beyond our ability to comprehend. And what we do see is only what God has shown us within our four dimensions of space and time.”

Following Dr. Schaefer’s presentation, a reception was held, providing student researchers with a chance to present their own research findings. Student research topics ranged from breast cancer research to neuroscience research.