March is Women’s History Month. To honor this, the Baltimore Christianity Column will be featuring the profiles of talented and accomplished women in the field of Christian Apologetics all month. These are trained, professional, and accomplished women who champion Christianity through their expertise in fields such as philosophy, history, and science.
Can the modern understanding of biology be reconciled with the Christian Bible? The best person to answer that question may just be Melissa Travis.
One of the hardest-working women in the field of Christian Apologetics related to science, Melissa worked as a bench scientist in the fields of biotechnology and pharmaceutical research for five years after obtaining her undergraduate degree, and has spent more than a decade researching the science, theology, and philosophy pertaining to the origins debate. She is the author of How Do We Know God is Really There?, the first book in the Young Defenders series. She has also authored illustrated storybooks that teach the fundamentals of Christian apologetics to young children. She recently completed Volume 2, How Do We Know God Created Life?
Currently, Melissa serves as Assistant Professor of Christian Apologetics at Houston Baptist University. This year Melissa begins her doctoral research in the history, philosophy, and scientific thought pertaining to human nature.
Melissa has been a Christian for her entire life, growing up in a Southern Baptist church in North Carolina as the daughter of the pastor. She went on to receive her undergraduate in biology in a Christian environment, and describes her Christian beliefs as being “blind faith,” borrowed from her parents without any deep and meaningful consideration on her part.
However, as she emerged from her cozy Christian environment into the workaday world of biology research, she awoke to the challenges the secular world presented to the Christian worldview.
“I was immediately exposed to a much broader range of disparate belief systems, including materialism. It was through a series of conversational encounters with coworkers that God showed me how woefully ill-equipped I was to be a competent witness to people from non-Christian religious backgrounds and to non-theists.”
Her enthusiasm for defending the Christian faith thusly stoked, Melissa began to investigate the reasons behind what she believed with academic enthusiasm.
She earned her Master of Arts in Science and Religion from Biola University, graduating with Highest Honors. She is now certified in Christian apologetics and holds a BS in general biology from Campbell University.
Melissa describes her passion and focus in the defense of Christian beliefs:
“First and foremost, I am interested in the role of scientific evidence in the project of Christian apologetics. Human origins is my ongoing ‘pet’ research project. However, I am also intensely interested in philosophy, particularly the philosophical thought related to human nature and scientific theory.”
Due to her disparate training and fields of expertise, Melissa has some unique qualifications among Christian Apologists:
“Unlike someone trained only in a scientific field or only in philosophy, I have an interdisciplinary education that has equipped me to properly integrate these two fields. I have found that communicating the philosophical flaws in anti-theistic arguments made by scientists is key in scientific apologetics.”
More than just her training, Melissa has found that being a woman in a field still dominated by men has given her a distinctive advantage in this pursuit:
“In my personal ministry, I have found my womanhood to be an asset rather than a hindrance. Women apologists are still a novelty, and that draws some positive attention.”
While Melissa admits that women such as herself often juggle a variety of responsibilities that make pursuing academics a challenge, the rewards are well worth it.
In her own words:
“My ministry experience has shown me, time and again, that there are many Christian women who are intimidated by theology and apologetics. However, when they see a female deeply engaged in these fields, they often lose much of their hesitancy and become enthusiastic about adding an intellectual dimension to their Christian faith.”