Members of the Cal Poly community will be in search of the truth this week.
The Veritas Forum, Latin for “a public discussion of truth,” is a weeklong event open to people of all backgrounds and faiths to discuss the nature of truth in terms of: music, science, philosophy, morality, spirituality, history, poetry, art, personal life experience, sexuality and more.
The event runs from Feb. 4 to Feb. 10 and is sponsored by Associated Students Inc. as well as SLO Crusade, Veritas Foundation, Muslim Association, InterVarsity SLO, Asian-American Christian Fellowship, and Navigators.
“The purpose of the Veritas Forum is not to discover what religion is, but to understand what truth is and what it means to be human,” said Lindsay DeKlotz, the event’s co-coordinator. “It’s a cool place for students to come to learn about truth through all aspects of life and to really ask the hardest questions of life.”
The forum will be comprised of speakers presenting various topics throughout the week, including “Evolution vs. Atheism,” “Near Death Experiences and the Afterlife,” and “The Resurrection Argument that Changed a Generation of Scholars.” Each event includes 45 minutes of lecture and 45 minutes for questions and answers afterward.
Well-known philosopher Alvin Plantinga will lead a discussion called “Science and Religion: Why Does the Debate Continue?” Many philosophy majors at Cal Poly have to read books written by Plantinga, DeKlotz said.
The main event of the Veritas Forum is the religious panel that will be discussing the differences between Christianity, Judaism and Islam. There will be a representative from each faith to lead the panel and to answer questions from audience members. This event will take place at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Chumash Auditorium.
Cal Poly professor Ali Shaban will be representing Islam in the panel. Shaban has been the advisor for the Muslim Student Association for two years. Representing Judaism will be Lon Alan Moskowitz, the Jewish Chaplain at the California Men’s Colony. Completing the panel and representing Christianity is Gary Habermas, a philosophy and theology professor at Liberty University.
“I hope (the forum) opens up lines of thought and dialogue that aren’t typically present in the classroom,” volunteer coordinator Sedric Mart said. “The university system was founded on exploring truth in all forms, and I think it has lost a lot of focus, particularly on things like religion and the meaning of life. A lot of questions that are really important are not really answered anymore.”
On Tuesday, there will be an art tent in the University Union displaying photographs, sculptures, graphic art and paintings. Inside the tent, there will also be coffee, live music, baked goods and couches for students to continue discussions related to the Veritas Forum.
Thursday night features the Veritas band and dance show in Spanos Theatre at 7 p.m. Performances include the Pat Little Band and Lauren Sexton.
There will be a student film festival held at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Business building, room 213. Students made films on their own “search for the truth.”
The Veritas Forum will conclude with a discussion over coffee in the Swanson Center. The Swanson Center is located inside old Pacheco Elementary on the corner of Slack Street and Grand Avenue in room 4. DeKlotz said the event is “a place for people who still have questions about the talks or want to learn more; they can go to the (Swanson Center) library and get more information on it and talk to other students about it.”
This nationwide event began at Harvard University in 1992 and was created by a student.