MACU prof to teach biology program from faith perspective


Gerry Woodworth


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mid-Atlantic Christian University’s new professor of biology said Monday he is looking forward to teaching biology from the perspective of his Christian faith.

MACU’s first day of classes for the fall semester was Monday. But Gerry Woodworth, who has been hired to teach biology as MACU inaugurates its new biology major, will teach his first class beginning Wednesday.

By next semester he will be up to a full courseload, he said.

The university has 15 biology majors enrolled this semester, and John Maurice, MACU’s interim president, said Monday the enrollment had fulfilled MACU’s expectations for the first semester of the new major.

For Woodworth, the most exciting aspect of his new position is being able to teach biology with an emphasis on God as creator and with a Christian worldview always at the center of the instruction.

“It’s really where I wanted to end up ultimately, is teaching at a Christian college,” said Woodworth, who holds a Ph.D. in environmental science from the University of Virginia. “I’m very excited about being able to teach about the life around us and how to learn about our world and have it all match up with my Biblical beliefs and our Biblical beliefs.”

Woodworth noted MACU’s statement of faith affirms God as creator of all things. He said when he thinks about that article of faith in terms of evolutionary biology, it’s important to him to affirm that while evolution can help account for the current diversity of plant and animal life he does not think that evolution is an adequate explaination for the origins of life.

That distinction is sometimes described in terms of “micro-evolution” and “macro-evolution,” and the distinction is important to Woodworth.

Woodworth said the Bible and science are in clear agreement on many points, but that in cases where the Bible and science need to be reconciled he takes the Bible as his starting point. But he added that there’s a lot of room for grace in acknowledging that people can hold a variety of views about the relationship between creation and evolution and still be Christians.

One important way Woodworth’s faith informs his teaching of science is in his emphasis on the need for humans to be good stewards of the created order — “making sure we’re not degrading the earth and the resources that God has given us,” he said. “We should take care of what we have been given.”

According to information provided by MACU, Woodworth in his doctoral program researched the effects of deer on invasive plants in forests. He also holds a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a bachelor of science degree in biology from Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee.

Maria Osorio, 17, is a freshman from Honduras who is majoring in biology. She said she hopes to work in the medical field and plans to decide during the next few years what she will specialize in as she gets her basic education in biology.

Osorio said her high school in Honduras has a close relationship with MACU and that helped her get a good financial aid package to attend the university.

She said she also had the opportunity to meet Clay Perkins, the immediate past president of MACU, and Dan Smith, the university’s enrollment director, when they visited her high school. That also influenced her decision to attend MACU, she said.