What the Canadian Centre for Scholarship and the Christian Faith Means to Me
Dorothy Steffler, PhD
Professor, Psychology
Concordia University of Edmonton
Winter, 2015
As a social scientist, I am interested in understanding human behaviour, a tall order considering the complexity of the human person, not to mention all of the complex interactions involved in our physical, psychological, emotional, and social needs.  I was trained as a cognitive developmental psychologist. My premise is that we are biological, psychological, sociological, and spiritual beings, constantly developing, across our entire lifespan – and then some!
One of the formative moments in my career was listening to a lecture series given by Dr. Gilbert Gottlieb, a developmental psychobiologist from the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill(1).  His work culminated in a theoretical perspective that described the complex bi-directional interactions of all levels of the human person in driving human development, from the cellular and genetic level to the social and environmental level. The insight I had actually came through his spouse Nora, whom I had the pleasure of meeting after one of Dr. Gottlieb’s sessions.  She unassumingly commented that the area missing in her husband’s theoretical model was the influence of spirituality on development.  She said that he omitted that level because he would never be taken seriously as a scientist if he included spirituality in his model.  I believe we have moved beyond putting such limitations on scientific enquiry.
The Canadian Centre for Scholarship and the Christian Faith has given me a venue to expand my research to that once neglected area of psychological enquiry. The support I have received through the Centre has allowed me to pursue an exciting area of research on human development: the influence of spirituality on meaningful life.  Working from the premise that we are spiritual beings, by our very nature, begs us to understand more fully how the intersection of spirituality influences us as holistic human beings. The challenges and support I encounter from interacting with interdisciplinary scholars through the CCSCF has provided insight and motivation to tackle some of the difficult, and perhaps nebulous, questions of what it means to be human.
1 see Gilbert Gottlieb (1920-2006): A scientific obituary. Developmental Science, 9, v-vi.


What the Canadian Centre for Scholarship and the Christian Faith Means to Me

Tim Loreman, PhD
Dean of Research at Concordia University of Edmonton

Education

Fall 2013

 

My research as a social scientist involves working with the facts as they present to me, and trying to discern what is true and what is of value in the contexts that I study. I try to describe and explain small slices of our social world. There are some who believe that, in theory at least, it is possible for humans to eventually know everything about this world through the application of scientific modes of investigation.

The longer I research, the more I see it is the case that science can offer us a lot in terms of describing our world and helping us to develop in a multitude of areas, but it cannot answer the fundamental questions in life. Why are we here, and what or who put us here? What do our accomplishments as humans really mean? Is what we examine as scientists really all there is? Religion offers one perspective on these topics, and as I struggle to reconcile my natural inclination towards proof as a social scientist with my intuitions regarding the existence of God for which there can be no definitive proof, I find myself in a constant cycle of doubt.

For me, doubt is a good thing. Doubt keeps me engaged. I find the Canadian Centre for Scholarship and the Christian Faith provides the sort of dialogue I seek to help further my thinking in this area. The engagement of different disciplines and how they relate to the Christian faith legitimizes open and honest, informed and scholarly, discussion around the issues; issues too often avoided or dismissed with platitudes or judgment. For me, that is the true value of the CCSCF.