Featured Apologist Melissa Travis
MELISSA TRAVIS’ WEBSITE: Hard-Core Christianity: Apologetics, Worldview, and a Pebble in the Shoe
ABOUT MELISSA TRAVIS: Melissa Travis will graduate with a Master of Arts in Science and Religion from Biola University in December, 2012. She is certified in Christian Apologetics by Biola, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in biology. She worked in biotechnology and pharmaceutical research for five years after obtaining her undergraduate degree, and has spent more than a decade studying the science, theology, and philosophy pertaining to the origins debate. She directs The Woodlands chapter of Reasonable Faith, an apologetics education ministry. She welcomes opportunities to speak and teach on issues related to science and faith.
THE POACHED EGG INTERVIEW WITH MELLISA TRAVIS:
TPE: Melissa, thanks so much for what you do and for your contributions to TPE. Can you tell us a little bit about how you became interested in apologetics?
MT: While I was raised in a Christian home, I began to have doubts about some elements of the Christian belief system as an undergraduate college student. I maintained belief in Jesus as my Savior, but I questioned the historicity and inerrancy of some Scripture. I went into genetic research after graduating with my degree in biology, and subsequently worked in laboratories where I encountered people from many cultures with various metaphysical belief systems. Repeatedly, I found myself in conversational situations with one person after another, where I was questioned about why I thought Christianity to be exclusively true, why I thought the Bible was reliable, or why I didn’t think naturalistic explanations for life were sufficient. I came to the harsh realization that I didn’t have good reasons for believing things I claimed to believe. I began a journey of self-study in general apologetics, paying special attention to questions of cosmic and biological origins. Over a period of about five years, God steered me towards formal apologetics education. Whenever I learned about the M.A. Science and Religion program at Biola University in 2009, I applied immediately. I completed their certification in general apologetics along with my graduate program, which focuses on the history and philosophy of science, intelligent design theory, and Christian theology.
TPE: Your field of study has been in biology and scientific apologetics. What exactly is 'Scientific Apologetics' and why is it important?
MT: Scientific apologetics is not the attempt to “prove” Christianity though scientific investigation. Rather, it combines sound philosophy and rigorous science in order to demonstrate the scientific feasibility of a Creator of the cosmos and of life and to show how one can responsibly integrate science and faith.
TPE: The field of apologetics is no longer a 'men's only' club, and lately seems to be busting wide open for women. Do you see women's roles in apologetics any differently than those of men?
MT: That’s an interesting question. I have observed that a large number of women are drawn to apologetics through the ministries of other women, and that homeschooling mothers, in particular, tend to seek advice from apologists who are also women. Perhaps many women are less intimidated by the thought of approaching fellow women. So, yes, I think there are some unique roles that an apologist who is a woman may take on more often. I have not, however, encountered any obstacles to doing apologetics ministry in this regard. In addition to scientific apologetics, I have a personal passion for encouraging and instructing home schooling mothers to teach apologetics as part of their children’s core education.
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TPE: What are your plans after you finish your master’s degree at Biola?
MT: I'll graduate in December, and I am already under contract for a children’s apologetics storybook series called Junior Defenders. Book one will come out in the early spring of 2013. I have other writing projects on the horizon, one in particular aimed at Christian educators. I also plan to continue my formal speaking ministry and my local church teaching.
TPE: We will certainly be on the lookout for Junior Defenders and hope they will have an impact on future apologists. Who are a few of your favorite apologists and why?
MT: It’s difficult to name only a few! Dr. J.P. Moreland, Dr. Angus Menuge, and Dr. William Lane Craig are huge inspirations to me in the area of general philosophy and philosophy of science. Intelligent Design scholars such as Dr. John West, Dr. Stephen Meyer, Dr. Michael Behe, Dr. Jay Richards, and Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, as well as biochemist Dr. Fazale Rana have been incredibly influential in guiding the direction of my own work in scientific apologetics. I greatly admire and benefit from the work Dr. Craig Hazen does in the area of world religions as well as Dr. Gary Habermas’s work on the resurrection.
TPE: What advice do you have for anyone considering a career in apologetics?
MT: This depends on the level of education the person plans to attain. Academia tends to be the main option for those seeking to make a living in the discipline, and that generally requires a Ph.D., though I know of some university-level instructors with master’s degrees. For those who see apologetics as a “para-career,” or those who aren't going to be dependent upon their ministry for income, there is a TON of important work that can be done with a master’s level degree. I strongly recommend formal study at a reputable institution. The guidance I've received from my professors over the past few years has been priceless.
TPE: What role do you feel the church has or should have when it comes to apologetics?
MT: At the minimum, the church should be encouraging apologetics and worldview education as a staple of their ministry, particularly for evangelism preparation. Ideally, every church should have ongoing classes in various apologetics topics and on-call apologists available to the congregation.
TPE: Melissa, thank you so much for taking the time out to share with us here at TPE and a huge congratulations on completing your MA at Biola. We look forward to reading and featuring more of your outstanding articles here, and we pray for God’s continued blessing on your apologetics ministry!