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Vibrant Dance: Science Supports Christianity

There were three panel discussions at the conference, this one on Wednesday morning, and two on Thursday morning. I was generally able to summarize each statement made by each speaker, and so will present these as summarizing transcripts. Each speaker will be identified by their initials, listed after their name below. The listing below comes as presented in the symposium program. My comments will be bracketed.

This panel was entitled, “The Vibrant Dance of Faith & Science:  Science Supports Christianity – Revealing the Congruence, Illuminating the Tensions,” and was moderated by Walter Bradley (WB) (Baylor). Panelists were Andy Crouch (AC), Ross Hastings (RH), Dan Heinze (DH), Hugh Ross (HR), Fazale Rana (FR), Darrel Falk (DF), Stephen Meyer (SM), and Deborah Haarsma  (DBH).

Start transcript summary.
WB—Design is synonymous with purpose, therefore, is Design scientifically detectable?
DF--“Entire process is God’s process and… has his fingerprint all over it” but in answer to the question, not yet, but maybe someday
FR—In principle, is it possible through objective methods
DF—If folks want to use science and go looking for evidence for design, go for it, but he’s skeptical, theologically if there is a way to do so—{sounds like he’s a fan of NOMA (non-overlapping magisterial—the idea that science and faith both answer questions about existence but they do not overlap in any way.}
HR—Should be possible-Scripture indicates that scientists should be able to, but we as scientists look for the wrong purpose, so miss God’s design.
WB—Unlikely to be able to prove God scientifically
AC—Disagrees with HR on point 1, we as human beings sense/intuit God from Creation, but detecting Him or Design through science methods/instrumentation, not likely.
DH— Atheistic physicists/cosmologists admit that the data runs against their favored viewpoint {i.e.- they detect design in the data}
SM—Which scientists are not convinced of it?-i.e. some have and are advocating for it. Why are some not convinced? Their methodological naturalism gets in the way
DBH- {missed due to phone call}
RH—Topic is subject to epistemology-what can we actually know? What is our level of uncertainty? What is the motivation behind one’s teleology? ‘Proofs’ are not sufficient due to people suppressing the truth
HR—Agrees with RH on proof, and asks, as we go forward and learn more, does God appear more likely or not?
WB—ID vs id (there is a difference between the Intelligent Design movement and the idea of intelligent design)—laws of nature not independent of God. He noted that folks are more comfortable with cosmological evidence for God and less with biological evidence for Him.
DF—We all believe in design and therefore in intelligent design, or id. As for the ID movement, it has helped focus the discussion, yet how helpful has what they have produced been in contributing to the science or has it discouraged the science community from buying into ID ideas.
SM—Consensus in the scientific community leads to diffidence.  We should be asking, what is the best model for the data? The shocking effect of Watson/Crick discovering that DNA was a digital code, that the cell uses same methods in coding info that programmers do— displayed a logic and elegance far beyond what we are able to do. Yet Francis Collins is still trying to hold on to naturalistic mechanism. {veiled dig at all theistic evolutionists?}
FR—In cosmology, the data confounded the naturalist philosophy; the same is occurring in origin of life research; The godfather {not sure who this is} of OoL (Origin of Life sciences) said it would be a miracle for RNA to form spontaneously in early Earth. They even acknowledge their research is inserting “id” into their work.
SM—We should use their work and celebrate it
FR—The data isn’t taking us in the direction of non-design
DF—All of us believe God is origin of life; the question is whether or not this is a gap or truly new doors; we should allow for natural mechanisms to be fully explored
WB—Shapiro {not sure who this is} believed that a naturalistic explanation would be found eventually; and was once asked how he can be a scientist and a Christian, and he said he is fine with it because he knows who did it and is now studying how. God works through process.
SM—Gaps arise from ignorance; however if it looks like design, then it isn’t a gap. ID is making provisional conclusions based on what we know, not what we don’t know.
WB—Even in the cosmological realm, we need to be tentative
SM—No distinction between cosmology and OoL in terms of issues, but it is matter of detectability
RH—What is/are the method(s) of design? The issue seems to be one of intervention and how it happens, not that God is involved. How do you detect natural or supernatural intervention? {see my posts Is it Nature or Magic?, Harry Who-dini?, or, The Problem of Expectation, "It's a Miracle!", and A Matter of Time}
SM—There are two types of power—‘ordinary’ power and ‘sovereign’ power; a difference between order and information, law and info; therefore God seems to favor a discreet intervention. {I believe he is saying that when a ‘miracle’ occurs, God is exerting His sovereign power over and above the ‘ordinary’ power of the natural functioning of His Creation. The main context of this discussion is the Cambrian explosion of vast amounts and very different types of lifeforms in a very short period of time geologically.}
AC—There is a difference between discontinuous intervention versus continuous intervention; we should be wary of attributing discontinuity to divine action; our instinct and sensibility about the world around us are as important as data; {In short, he renames SM’s dichotomy, and cautions against thinking that all discontinuities in the world are due to explicit divine action.}
SM—I’m not arguing from lack of data, but from sudden influxes of information.
HR—Discontinuities are opportunities for research to see which way {naturalism or design} is getting stronger
DH—There are no objective scientists; {that why we try for falsifiability} hence, the lack of interest in theistic implications; we as Christians and scientists should let naturalistic investigations go forward because they just give us more evidence that will ultimately lean against naturalism.
WB—Therefore scientists have lots of job security. Now let’s change topics and look at the Bible and science. Quoted Francis Schaeffer (that there is no final conflict)—we as scientific Christians have two non-negotiables:  that God created and there was a historical Adam & Eve; 
RH—Wish we had an OT theologian to address this; we tend to ask questions of Genesis it wasn’t designed to answer, so it becomes question of hermeneutics. There is no explicit biblical position on the age of earth. Genesis 1 and 2 are not about cosmology, but theology. There was a coronation moment at which God put His image into a fully evolved human.
FR—Paul refers to a real Adam, so if he’s confused about that, is he confused about Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection, if he is using it as a tie between the first and last Adam? {I Corinthians 15:45-46}
RH—I DO believe in a real Adam, but not a literalistic one.
AC—These are separate issues—the representative Adam versus a genetic Adam
DF—Collins would agree with RH
DBH—Clarify, please? About the separation? {Thanks! I sort of got it, but not really clearly.}
RH—It is confusing, but there seems to be a community of early humans known as Adam {known by whom?—i.e. is this a name backwards bestowed by modern scholars or what they called themselves or were known by this name to their contemporaries or…?}
WB—There may have been 1000 people on the early earth, but God picked out an Adam and Eve out to begin the relationship
DF—The Biologos perspective is that we’d be comfortable with that idea, but not limited to that idea.
DH—There is tension for me in any theological or scientific position. It also appears to be a possibility that a large supernova occurred ~50,000 years ago near Earth that could have changed our conclusions about early human life. {WHOA!? Elaborate please!}
HR—The book of Hebrews seems clear that GOD actively created Adam and Eve. The Bible indicates lots of offspring from them, so could have filled Earth if sin hadn’t entered.
AC—We must take the audience into account—we may take it literally, but how would an early middle east reader take it?
HR—But God wrote the Bible for all people, so it should have meaning for all
DBH—I agree with AC, chronology not important to many early folks, and the context we bring into it is important. The idea of God putting in hidden things that are only apparent to us is not consistent with Him. {Not sure I agree with this—much of the prophecy in the Bible doesn’t appear to be prophecy until after the fulfillment, yet the Bible declares it to be so. So, why not scientific info?}
RH—Hermeneutics says we should start by understanding how early readers read it first in order to inform our interpretation; to them the point was God reigns over chaos and brings order to it.
SM—Just as theological evidence is open to different interpretations, so also is the genetic evidence. Junk DNA is species specific, so it is evidence against common ancestry, so the science isn’t settled.
FR—ALU  sequences are shown to play a role in stress response-when species stress, ALU levels spike and appear to be functional after all. {See Vibrant Dance: “God’s Creativity and Providence” }
DF—Appeals to the scientific consensus of interpretation as a justification of his position and above developments do not stop those consensual interpretations.
WB—A pinball machine is an analogy—the ball can take many paths but ends up at bottom of table always, so can we say there is a similar idea in evolution—no matter what the path, there is the same end result? (A deeper design that directs final result like the gravity in a pinball machine) Can this reconcile some of the confusion?
FR—Discussed convergence in his book, The Cell’s Design, and it has theistic implications.
SM—Likes the general idea of convergence, but has questions about the implications of front loading information into the Creation to prefer a final outcome.
RH—God and Creation both act and interact.
End Transcript summary.


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