Science and Christianity

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Published on December 23, 2007

Author: Cinderella

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Science and Christianity: Friends or Foes? :  Science and Christianity: Friends or Foes? by Ard Louis Dept. of Chemistry Cambridge University www-louis.ch.cam.ac.uk/urbana/ What does the Bible say ?:  What does the Bible say ? “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” Gen 1:1 “For by him all things were created … and in him all things hold together” Col 1:16,17 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory … sustaining all things by his powerful word” Heb 1:3 God sustains the universe:  God sustains the universe Psalm 104 (praising God’s creation) “ He makes springs pour water into ravines; it flows between the mountains; the wild donkeys quench their thirst’’ v10,11 “Natural” processes are described both as divine and non-divine actions 2 perspectives on the same natural world Science studies the ”Customs of the Creator” :  Science studies the ”Customs of the Creator” If God were to stop “sustaining all things” the world would stop existing Donald MacKay, The Clockwork Image, IVP “An act of God is so marvelous that only the daily doing takes off the admiration” John Donne (Eighty Sermons, #22 published in 1640) “Miracles” are not God “intervening in the laws of nature”: they are God working in less customary ways Science/Religion and the conflict metaphor?:  Science/Religion and the conflict metaphor? “Science and religion cannot be reconciled ... Religion has failed, and its failures should be exposed. Science, with its currently successful pursuit of universal competence … should be acknowledged the king” --Prof Peter Atkins, Oxford U, in 1995 Science/Religion and the conflict metaphor?:  Science/Religion and the conflict metaphor? “I don’t know any historian of science, of any religious persuasion or none, who would hold to the theory that conflict is the name of the game between science and religion, it simply isn’t true.” --Prof Colin Russell, Open University, UK Science/Religion and the conflict metaphor?:  Science/Religion and the conflict metaphor? Pervasive myth (Emperor has no clothes) Scientists are about as religious as the general population Galileo example far more complex Really about Aristotle/Greek cosmology “Galilieo Connection”, Prof Charles Hummel, IVP (1986) Christian origins of science :  Christian origins of science Science has deeply Christian roots. Uniformity Rationality Intelligibility See e.g. books by Stanley Jaki; R. Hooykaas; e.g. China Royal Society, the word’s first scientific society. Founded in London July 15, 1662, many were Puritans Founders of Royal Society:  Founders of Royal Society “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent being.” Sir Isaac Newton Founders of Royal Society:  Founders of Royal Society Wrote “The Wisdom of God Manifested in Works of Creation”, governor of the “Corporation for the Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in New England Sir Robert Boyle(1627-1691) Mechanism v.s. Meaning:  Mechanism v.s. Meaning Conflating mechanism and meaning is origin of most conflict “Nothing Buttery” Scientism “The cosmos is all there is or ever was or ever will be” Carl Sagan “The most important questions in life are not susceptible to solution by the scientific method” Prof. Bill Newsome, Stanford U. God of the gaps:  God of the gaps “When we come to the scientifically unknown, our correct policy is not to rejoice because we have found God; it is to become better scientists” Prof. Charles Coulson, Oxford U Fine Tuning and the Anthropic Principle :  Fine Tuning and the Anthropic Principle “The universe is the way it is, because we are here” – Prof. Stephen Hawking, Cambridge U If the [fine structure constant] were changed by 1%, the sun would immediately explode Prof. Max Tegmark, U. Penn We are made of Stardust He C via a resonance:  We are made of Stardust He C via a resonance Sir Fred Hoyle, Cambridge U “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics .. and biology” His atheism was “deeply shaken” Fine Tuning and the Anthropic Principle :  Fine Tuning and the Anthropic Principle Fine tuning is not a proof of God, but seems more consistent with theism than atheism Note the difference with “God of the gaps” Engaging with Science:  Engaging with Science Do your homework Focus on meaning, not mechanism; Fine tuning, not God of the gaps Fight evolutionism: Who does speak for science? Amongst Christians, some emotive issues But on details, we should be allowed to disagree Current revolution in Biology will throw up many questions which Christians are uniquely qualified and called to evaluate Engaging with Scientists:  Engaging with Scientists I.m.h.e. more open than arts/humanities students Often looking for a higher cause to which to dedicate their lives; idealists Receptive to truth Still rarely become Christians through intellectual argument alone Science as a calling ?:  Science as a calling ? Good Scientific praxis resonates well with Christian principles Called not driven; makes better scientists in Christian community Science and its derivatives will,through globalisation, have an increasingly large influence on thinking in the 2/3 world. Impact on missions. Christians are needed Summary:  Summary Science and Christianity are not in conflict Mechanism versus meaning But watch out for God of the Gaps Fine tuning is cool Do your homework Could you be called to Science? Recommended Books, see also: www-louis.ch.cam.ac.uk/urbana/:  Recommended Books, see also: www-louis.ch.cam.ac.uk/urbana/ Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence?, Henry F. Schaefer, III (Apollos, 2003) Quarks, Chaos and Christianity, John Polkinghorne (Triangle, 1994) Science & Its Limits, Del Ratzsch (IVP 2000) Rebuilding the Matrix, Denis Alexander (Lion 2001) Recommended Books, see also: www-louis.ch.cam.ac.uk/urbana/:  Recommended Books, see also: www-louis.ch.cam.ac.uk/urbana/ The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Mark Noll (IVP, 1994) Battle for the Beginnings, Del Ratzsch (IVP, 1996)

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