Anglicans from around the country gathered in Charleston last week to hear speakers discuss the confluence of those traditionally competing spheres of study, science and faith.

Sponsored by Mere Anglicanism, the ninth annual conference at the Charleston Music Hall was entitled "Science, Faith, and Apologetics: An Answer for the Hope That is Within Us."

"There's hardly a more pressing issue at the dawn of the 21st century than science and faith," the Rev. Jeff Miller, chairman of Mere Anglicanism, said in a statement.

About 650 people attended the three-day event that this year explored "the evidences of God's handiwork in the cosmos," said the Rev. Dr. Peter Moore, associate rector at St. Michael's in Charleston.

Oxford University mathematician John Lennox, who has debated prominent atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, opened the conference tackling naturalism and "scientific fundamentalism."

Science, he argued, needs God to account for the origins of things.

"Science may explain the how, but it cannot explain the why," Lennox said.

Speakers included:

Alvin Carl Plantinga, the John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and inaugural holder of the Jellema Chair in Philosophy at Calvin College

C. John "Jack" Collins, professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary

Michael J. Behe, intelligent design advocate and biochemistry professor at Lehigh University

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, former bishop of Rochester, general secretary of the Church Mission Society and bishop of Raiwind in Pakistan

Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle.

"The speakers did a good job of explaining that if terms are defined, it is really a battle of world views, and Christians should have every confidence that science and faith are compatible bedfellows and all truth is God's truth in God's world," said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, associate rector at Christ St. Paul's Church on Younges Island.

Clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina organized the event. Several speakers officiated local worship services after the event.

Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563, follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes or subscribe to her at facebook.com/jennifer.b.hawes.