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Vibrant Dance: A Vision for the Church

Wednesday’s evening sessions were fascinating, but I have no report for them. As part of my volunteer (pleasurable!) duties, I served as a teaching assistant (TA) for two of the four breakout sessions—basically, made sure the room was set up for the speakers’ needs and be available if they need anything. Thus, I missed Dinesh D’Souza’s testimony. {Ever notice how some folks are known by a single name—Elvis, Madonna? Dinesh D’Souza’s one of those who’s known by their first and last name.} The breakout session for which I served as a TA was “Scientific Challenges to Neo-Darwinism” by the Discovery Institute team:  Stephen Meyer, Paul Nelson, Richard Sternberg, and Doug Axe. It was basically 4 talks and Q&A in 90 minutes. Whew! Very fascinating, and I wish I could have taken notes, but I had a fair bit to do TA-wise. Sternberg’s talk is the one I remember best, about how the popular story of the evolution of whales is untenable. Very interesting—I’d love to hear a Darwinist’s response.

Thursday morning and the last day started with Deborah Haarsma’s testimony. I unfortunately missed this one too.

So we’ll proceed to the first plenary talk of the day by Alister McGrath from King’s College, London (which is different that The King’s College, in the Empire State Building, from where Bruce Gordon and Dinesh D’Souza hail), speaking on “A Vision for the Church: Science, Faith and Society in 2030 and How We Start on That Road Today.” Under Doctor’s orders, McGrath was unable to travel, so sent a video of his talk that he specially recorded for us, as opposed to recycling an earlier presentation.

He started with the question, “why is the relationship between Science and Religion so important? He then gave views by atheistic scientists. Steven Jay Gould said that science is religiously neutral, so science can’t point toward or away from faith. Yet, Stephen Hawking’s asserted that God is not needed based on string theory, which is hardly a religiously neutral statement.

Interestingly, string theory is highly speculative (and quickly falling out of favor in the scientific community), so he is speculating on a non-science issue based on a speculative theory based on no evidence. Given that the laws of physics are descriptive of a mechanism, we still need an Agent setting those laws in motion, so Hawking’s premise is flawed.

{Again, we see the agent/mechanism spectre rising yet again. Must be frustrating for those naturalists!}

So, from where do the “laws of physics” come? Hawking attributes agency to the laws themselves, which only pushes things back one step.

McGrath said that scientists are a bit worried about Hawking’s latest book because they fear it may erode the authority of science. They don’t want that authority (and power!) weakened in the public mind by the way he engages in such wild speculation.

Gould believed science cannot comment on God without overstepping its bounds. {Sounds like NOMA} Richard Dawkins has indicated that science is unable to say anything about what is ethical. {This is an astounding statement, given how much effort evolutionists have spent trying to explain an evolutionary mechanism for human ethics and morality.} McGrath references a book, “The Limits of Science” by Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Medawar. {Incidentally, when you click on the Amazon link, take the time to read through some of the comments.}

Detective fiction is popular because people like to see how things fit together—weaving clues together. In the same way, we like to know the sense of things in science, faith, and their interface. So understanding how we approach each is important. The dominant paradigm in science is “inference to the best explanation,” or inferring from the data what explanation holds them together best. {Medawar disputes this paradigm in his book, claiming intuition and serendipity are  more important.} By contrast, faith goes beyond, even transcends, reason. {Which Medawar apparently would say that much of science is the same, with interesting philosophical implications.} Yet, McGrath argues that some people are trapped within reason, and unable to make the leap to faith. {Future blog post on this one!!}

Darwin himself said he didn’t’ have a problem with evolution versus faith, calling his theory provisional. It is important to note here the existence of two Darwinisms: 1) the scientific theory and 2) the worldview. Even Richard Dawkins says that Darwinism 1 may be changed so radically in another hundred years, we wouldn’t recognize it! {Do you, like me, find yourself getting Dawkins and Darwin confused? I suspect a linguistic conspiracy!)

Going back to faith, St. Augustine interprets Genesis, seeing within it two patterns in Creation—an instantaneous bringing about of things and a slower progression of development—‘embedded causalities’ which are revealed over time. {It’s sort of like puberty is embedded into our genes, but not revealed until the time for it to kick in.} He said, “the Creation is a seed that begins to grow over time.” This is in 401 AD—1400 years before Darwin! {This is also a nasty blow for the young earth folks—shows that ancient theologians didn’t even take Genesis 1 as six literal 24 hour days of Creation!} {This is actually a very insightful perspective by Augustine—life develops over time, culture develops over time, so why not Creation? Parallelism is an important hermeneutical technique.}

With theories in such flux, McGrath concludes, where will we be in a generation’s time—40 years from now?

There are two authorities in culture—science and faith, and without dialogue, they will continue to drift apart. Religion can offer an ethical construct for morally neutral science. Therefore, he encourages, pastors should learn the language of science so they can reach out to scientists and minister to them.


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