Friday, October 26, 2007

Scientists Meet To Discuss God And Science

Scientists from around the world met in Edinburgh, Scotland this August at the annual meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation. The title of the conference was “New Frontiers in Science and Faith.” Many outstanding scientists from around the world attended including five Fellows of the prestigious Royal Academy of Science (FRS). The conference focused on examining the theological implications of recent discoveries and developments in Cosmology, Genetics, Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience, Bioethics, and Ecology and on integrating these developments with Christian faith.

Among the exciting topics discussed were those presented in the Keynote address by Alister McGrath. Dr. McGrath is a Molecular Biophysicist and theologian who holds the post of Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Oxford University. He cited several areas that represent the “New Frontiers in Science and Faith.” Among these are the renewed interest in Anthropic Phenomenon and the return to Natural Theology. The Anthropic Phenomenon (or Principle) explores the growing set of scientific observations that point to the fact that the Universe has been fine tuned (designed) to accommodate intelligent life. Natural Theology is the historical Christian approach to understanding nature and is the foundation of modern science. The return to Natural Theology has reinvigorated Christian scientists’ interest in cognitive research (where does our consciousness come from?), the origins of life, quantum physics, biology, and other areas of scientific study.

Dr. McGrath also pointed out that this new interest in the theological implications of recent scientific discoveries has contributed to the appearance of a new militant atheism that is trying to use science to evangelize its belief system.

In his lecture “Space, Time and Eternity,” Sir John Polkinghorne, FRS and former professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge University, discussed recent attempts by atheists to explain away the nearly undisputed fact that the universe is fine tuned for human life. In this particular instance, the atheists’ denial of God’s creation of the Universe is founded upon the claim of a Multiverse. The Multiverse theory postulates that our Universe is only one of an infinite or nearly infinite number of other Universes. With enough Universes, all with different natural laws operating in them, you will eventually get one like ours, which is perfect for human life. No designer needed! Unfortunately for the Multiverse advocates, these Universes are now and may always be undetectable; however, we are asked to believe on faith alone in their existence as an alternative to believing that the one Universe we know of and live in was created by God as a habitation for life.

Polkinghorne pointed out that this is, ‘“an idea of quite incredible ontological prodigality’ that would make William of Ockham roll over in his grave.”

Another presenter, Dr. Jan Centrella, Chief of NASA’s Gravitational Astrophysics Laboratory at the Goddard Space Flight Center, discussed her groundbreaking work on gravity waves and their implications for testing the General Theory of Relativity. She also discussed her faith journey.

Dr. Conway Morris, FRS professor of Paleobiology at the Cambridge University, discussed the fact that recent work on “evolutionary convergence” brings into question the Primary Axiom of Darwinism. The Primary Axiom is the idea that organisms are the result of random natural processes. Convergence research is showing that the necessary building blocks for intelligence appeared billions of years before the emergence of intelligence, indicating very advanced and highly sophisticated planning and design at work rather then random chance.

Why This is Important

The misuse and misinterpretation of scientific discoveries have been among the most important tools used to undermine Christian faith. These are still seen today in the intellectually shallow and ham fisted attempts by Richard Dawkins and other evangelists of atheism to destroy Christian faith through the abuse of science. Unfortunately, many are fooled by this approach, especially those who do not have the time or expertise to investigate the accuracy of their claims.

It is important that first-rate scientists in each field counter these claims. It is important that the public realize that they are not called to a blind faith that denies the facts of the real world but rather to a Faith grounded in reality.

Source: Newsletter of the American Scientific Affiliation , Sep/Oct 2007, Vol 49, No. 5, pp 1-7.

No comments: