AU Event to Feature C.S. Lewis Papers and Lewis Scholar

AU Event to Feature C.S. Lewis Papers and Lewis Scholar
Tom VanOsdall and his wife, Helen.

4/10/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – A series of letters exchanged between novelist C.S. Lewis and former Ashland College professor Tom VanOsdall will be displayed on the Ashland University campus and accessible to the public as part of an event set for May 7 at 7 p.m. in Myers Convocation Center.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature Dr. Michael Peterson, a Lewis scholar from Asbury Theological Seminary, speaking on “C.S. Lewis, Evolution & Intelligent Design.”

As part of the event, Dr. Mark Hamilton, associate professor of philosophy at Ashland University, will talk about the letters that were exchanged between Lewis and VanOsdall during 1963 and later donated to the University.

Those interested in attending the event are asked to RSVP by going to or calling 419.289.5082.

Peterson is professor of philosophy at Asbury Theological Seminary. He holds the Ph.D. in philosophy of science from the State University of New York and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Trinity Western University. His areas of expertise are philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, philosophy of C. S. Lewis, the problem of evil and the science-religion relationship.

He has written or been senior author in a number of books including “Reason and Religious Belief” (Oxford University Press); “God and Evil: An Introduction to the Issues”  (HarperCollins/Westview); “With All Your Mind: A Christian Philosophy of Education” (University of Notre Dame Press); “Evil and the Christian God” (Baker Books); and “Philosophy of Education:  Issues and Options” (InterVarsity Press). Dr. Peterson and Dr. Michael Ruse (Florida State University) coauthored “Science, Evolution, and Religion: A Debate about Atheism and Theism” (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2016).  Dr. Peterson’s book “C. S. Lewis and the Christian Worldview” (Oxford University Press) is scheduled to appear in late 2016.

Dr. Peterson has received both research grants and programmatic grants from various major foundations: Lilly Endowment, Pew Charitable Trust, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Institute for Advanced Christian Scholarship. Dr. Peterson launched and continues as the managing editor of the prestigious scholarly journal Faith and Philosophy,” now in its fourth decade and published at Asbury Theological Seminary. He has lectured widely and conducted a large number of seminars and workshops on topics in his areas of expertise.

Hamilton said Tom VanOsdall grew up in Ashland and taught as a chemistry professor at what was then Ashland College for nearly 30 years and retired in 1980.  

In the process of developing a course on the cultural impact of science, VanOsdall wrote letters to a number of significant people, including C.S. Lewis in 1963. Over a five-month period of that year, VanOsdall exchanged several letters with Lewis. This led to the creation of a course called Science as a Cultural Force, which is still being taught at Ashland University though it has gone through numerous evolutions.

Hamilton said Lewis was in his home in Oxford when he wrote the letters on June 1, Oct. 9 and Oct. 26 of 1963. “We have all three of the letters from C.S. Lewis to Tom and two of the three letters from Tom to C.S. Lewis,” Hamilton said.

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###


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