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Van Till, Howard J. (1938-) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Van Till, Howard J. (1938-)

Historical Note:

Howard J. Van Till was born on 28 Nov 1938 in Modesto, California. Van Till attended Calvin College and graduated with a BS in 1960. He furthered his education at Michigan State University, where he earned his PhD in physics in 1965. As he was doing post-doctoral research at the University of California at Riverside he was also teaching at the University of Redlands. His area of focus was in solid-state physics.

In 1967 his alma mater, Calvin College, asked him to join the faculty of the physics department. Van Till accepted the position, and he would remain with the college for the next thirty years. He began his career at Calvin teaching Astronomy 110. Eventually Van Till switched his focus of solid-state physics to astrophysics. He even went on sabbatical leave for a year to the University of Texas-Austin and the McDonnell Observatory in 1974.

Besides being a gifted educator and lecturer, Van Till was also a talented writer. He has written a great number of publications in professional journals such as Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation as well as religious periodicals like the Banner. However, in 1986 Van Till faced controversy regarding his first book, The Fourth Day. Soon after the book was released some members of the Christian Reformed Church community strongly criticized Van Till's work and even questioned the validity of his faith. For four years Van Till was investigated by the college regarding his eligibility to teach. Despite the investigation, Van Till continued to work at Calvin College until his retirement in the late nineties. Standing by Van Till's side throughout the ups and down was his wife Betty and their four children-Steven, Roger, Nancy, and Mary Beth.

Van Till is one of the founding members of the International Society for Science and Religion. He has been a member of professional societies such as the American Astronomical Society and American Scientific Affiliation. Van Till continues to speak and write on issues of science and religion. More recently, Van Till has expressed his journey from Calvinism to free thought, and even gave a presentation to the Freethought Association of West Michigan in 2006.

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