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Thinking Christianly about Science


Title: Science and Christianity: Friends or Foes? Author: adriaan louis Last modified by: Ard Louis Created Date: 12/25/2003 11:53:00 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Thinking Christianly about Science

Thinking Christianly about Science
  • Dr. Ard Louis
  • Department of Physics
  • University of Oxford

Cross-cultural, broad-brush talk
  • Christian sub-culture(s)
  • Scientific sub-cultures
  • culture is often caught not taught

Words Customs Traditions Behaviour Beliefs Values
Biological self-assembly
  • http// Keiichi Namba, Osaka
  • Biological systems self-assemble (they make
  • Can we understand?
  • Can we emulate? (Nanotechnology)

Virus self-assembly
  • Self-assembled from identical subunits
  • Characteristic number T.
  • Capsid T 12 pentamers, 10(T - 1) hexamers.

Self-assembly of computer viruses
Computer viruses?
Monte-Carlo simulations stochastic
optimisation http//
Self-assembly with legos?
Christian reaction Fear?
Science and faith?
Big, fun! questions How do I obtain reliable
knowledge about the world?
Fundamentally a (hard) philosophical question
  • Some Christian and Islamic writers seem unwilling
    to examine deeply held beliefs, presumably
    because they are afraid that this kind of thing
    is bad news for faith. Well, maybe it is -- for
    intellectually deficient and half-baked ideas.
    But it doesnt need to be like this. There are
    intellectually robust forms of faith -- the kind
    of thing we find in writers such as Augustine of
    Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, and C.S. Lewis. They
    werent afraid to think about their faith, and
    ask hard questions about its evidential basis,
    its internal consistency, or the adequacy of its
  • Alister McGrath in Finding Dawkins God,
    Blackwell (2004)

  • What does the Bible say about the natural world?
  • Thinking about science and certainty
  • The Origins debate ...

God reveals himself through nature
  • Romans 118
  • 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from
    heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness
    of men who suppress the truth by their
    wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God
    is plain to them, because God has made it plain
    to them. 20 For since the creation of the world
    God's invisible qualitieshis eternal power and
    divine naturehave been clearly seen, being
    understood from what has been made, so that men
    are without excuse.

God reveals himself through nature
  • Psalm 19
  • 1 The heavens declare the glory of God the
    skies proclaim the work of his hands.
  • 2 Day after day they pour forth speech
    night after night they display knowledge.

God reveals himself through nature
  • Psalm 8
  • 3 When I consider your heavens,
  • the work of your fingers,
  • the moon and the stars,
  • which you have set in place,
  • 4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
  • the son of man that you care for him?

Milky way 100 Billion stars Universe 100
Billion galaxies
"he also made the stars" .. Gen 116
God reveals himself through nature
Thinking Christianly about the natural world....
  • Wonder and Worship
  • Fearfully and wonderfully made ...

God reveals himself through nature
  • Austrian Alps

It was a beautiful afternoon and suddenly the
remarkable beauty of creation around me was so
overwhelming, I felt, I cannot resist this
another moment. -- Francis Collins on his
God created and sustains the world
  • In the beginning, God created the heavens and
    the earth Gen 11
  • Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness
    was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit
    of God was hovering over the waters. Gen 12
  • For by him Christ all things were created
    and in him all things hold together Col
  • The Son is the radiance of Gods glory
    sustaining all things by his powerful word Heb

God created and sustains the world
  • Psalm 104 (praising Gods 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
  • 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
  • Miracles are not God intervening in the laws
    of nature they are God working in less
    customary ways

Interpreting the Bible
  • What kind of language?
  • What kind of literature?
  • What kind of audience?
  • What kind of context?
  • All truth is Gods truth, so, properly
    interpreted, science and the Bible cannot

The Bible...
  • The Bible
  • God created the world
  • Nature attests to Gods qualities (Rom 1, Psalms)
  • God sustains the universe
  • Biblical language of Divine action (God sent the
  • Bible is not a science textbook, but ...
  • world has a beginning
  • stars, sun, and moon are not Gods etc...

  • What does the Bible say about the natural world?
  • Thinking about science and certainty
  • The Origins debate ...

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?
I dont 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 isnt
true. --Prof Colin Russell, Open
University, UK
Science/Religion and the conflict metaphor?
  • Pervasive myth (Emperor has no clothes?)
  • Scientists are about as religious as the general
    population (e.g. Oxford Physics)
  • e.g. Galileo example far more complex
  • Really about Aristotle/Greek cosmology
  • Galilieo Connection, Prof Charles Hummel, IVP

Christian origins of science
  • Science has deeply Christian roots.
  • Uniformity
  • Rationality
  • Intelligibility
  • See e.g. books by Stanley Jaki R. Hooykaas e.g.
  • Royal Society, the words first scientific
    society. Founded in London July 15, 1662, many
    were Puritans

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
  • 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
  • Sir Robert Boyle(1627-1691)

Mechanism v.s. Meaning
  • Conflating mechanism and meaning is origin of
    most confusion

why is the water boiling?
Nothing Buttery
humans are collections of chemicals
Nothing Buttery
humans are collections of chemicals
Nothing Buttery
humans are collections of chemicals
  • The cosmos is all there is or ever was or ever
    will be

Carl Sagan, Cornell U
The most important questions in life are not
susceptible to solution by the scientific method
Bill Newsome, Stanford U.
Limits of Science?
  • Science is a great and glorious enterprise - the
    most successful, I argue, that human beings have
    ever engaged in. To reproach it for its inability
    to answer all the questions we should like to put
    to it is no more sensible than to reproach a
    railway locomotive for not flying or, in general,
    not performing any other operation for which it
    was not designed.
  • -- Sir Peter Medawar, The Limits of Science,
    (Oxford University Press, Oxford (1987))

God of the gaps?
  • that couldnt have happened by natural means
    --gt God into the gap
  • 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

Newton and the planets
  • 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

Newton and the planets
18th century Orrery from a London coffee house,
used to show the perfection of the orbits, which
reflect Gods perfection
Leibnitz objects
  • For, as Leibniz objected, if God had to remedy
    the defects of his creation, this was surely to
    demean his craftmanship
  • John Hedley Brooke, Science and Religion, CUP
    1991, p147

Immediatism Leibniz objects
  • And I hold, that when God works miracles, he
    does not do it in order to supply the wants of
    nature, but those of grace. Whoever thinks
    otherwise, must needs have a very mean notion of
    the wisdom and power of God

Laplace and Napoleon
  • Mécanique Céleste (1799-1825)
  • Napoleon Why have you not mentioned the creator?
  • "Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là.

Chaos and the planets
  • Our understanding of the Solar System has been
    revolutionized over the past decade by the
    finding that the orbits of the planets are
    inherently chaotic. In extreme cases, chaotic
    motions can change the relative positions of the
    planets around stars, and even eject a planet
    from a system.
  • The role of chaotic resonances in the Solar
    System, N. Murray and M. Holman, Nature 410,
    773-779 (12 April 2001)

Arguments from science
  • Unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics
  • Fine-tuning in cosmology

Unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics
Quantum Mechanics Relativity Antimatter

See also The applicability of mathematics as a
philosophical problem, Mark Steiner HUP
(1998) E. Wigner "The Unreasonable Effectiveness
of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences," in
Communications in Pure and Applied Mathematics,
vol. 13, No. I (February 1960)
Science and Beauty
A Scientist does not study nature because it is
useful he studies it because he delights in it,
and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If
nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth
knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing,
life would not be worth living.
Henri Poincaré 1854 1912
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
  • Just Six Numbers by Sir Martin Rees

We are made of Stardust He C via a
  • 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 is not a proof of God, but seems more
    consistent with theism than atheism
  • Note the difference with God of the gaps
  • We seem to have three choices'... We can dismiss
    it as happenstance, we can acclaim it as the
    workings of providence, or (my preference) we can
    conjecture that our universe is a specially
    favoured domain in a still vaster multiverse. If
    this multiverse contained every possible set of
    laws and conditions, then the existence of our
    own world with its particular characteristics
    would be inevitable.
  • Sir Martin Rees (just 6 numbers) --
  • John Leslie firing squad argument

Tapestry arguments and inference to the best
  • The Golemization of Relativity, David Mermin,
    Physics Today 49, p11 April 1996
  • Science is a tapestry
  • -- you can pick at a few strings, but that
    doesnt break the whole cloth

Why do I believe in Jesus Christ? tapestry
If we are to understand the nature of reality, we
have only two possible starting points either
the brute fact of the physical world or the brute
fact of a divine will and purpose behind that
physical world John Polkinghorne, Serious Talk
Science and Religion in Dialogue, (1995).
History of life on earth
  • Does where we come from determine who we are and
    how we should live?
  • --OUTLINE --
  • Thinking about science
  • Mechanism and meaning
  • Nothing buttery
  • Scientism and the limits of science
  • God of the gaps and miracles
  • Tapestry arguments and inference to the best
  • Thinking about biological complexity
  • Language matters!

Aside Defining Evolution
  • Evolution as Natural History
  • the earth is old (/- 4.5 Billion years)
  • more complex life forms followed from simpler
    life forms
  • Evolution as a mechanism for the emergence of
    biological complexity
  • generated by mutations and natural selection
  • (note most Christians agree that God created
    this mechanism)
  • Evolution as a big picture worldview
  • George Gaylord Simpson
  • "Man is the result of a purposeless and
    materialistic process that did not have him in
    mind. He was not planned. He is a state of
    matter, a form of life, a sort of animal, and a
    species of the Order Primates, akin nearly or
    remotely to all of life and indeed to all that is
  • or Richard Dawkins
  • "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually
    fulfilled atheist.

Language Random or stochastic?
  • Random mutations and natural selection...
  • Stochastic (Monte Carlo) optimisation
  • e.g. used to price your stock portfolio .....

Lego blocks or clay?
  • Evo-Devo Lego Blocks
  • pax6
  • sonic-hedgehog
  • shaven-baby
  • tinman
  • Endless Forms Most Beautiful The New Science of
    Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom.
    S.B. Carroll (Blackwell Science 2005)

Why so few genes?
Mycoplasma genitalium (483) (300 minimum?)
E.coli (5416)
S. cerevisiae (5800)
Drosophila Melanogaster (13,500)
C. elegans (19,500) P. pacificus (29,000)
H. sapiens (22,000)
Why so few genes?
We share 15 of our genes with E. coli
25 yeast
50 flies
70 frogs
98 chimps
Gene language
Why are there so few genes? complexity comes
from the interactions gene networks systems
transcriptional network for yeast Saccharomyces
Gene language
  • Genes are trapped in huge colonies, locked
    inside highly intelligent beings, moulded by the
    outside world, communicating with it by complex
    processes, through which, blindly, as if by
    magic, function emerges. They are in you and me
    we are the system that allows their code to be
    read and their preservation is totally dependent
    on the joy that we experience in reproducing
    ourselves. We are the ultimate rationale for
    their existence.
  • Denis Noble --
  • The Music of Life Biology Beyond the Genome (OUP
  • Genes swarm in huge colonies, safe inside
    gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the
    outside world, communicating with it by tortuous
    indirect routes, manipulating it by remote
    control. They are in you and me they created us,
    body and mind and their preservation is the
    ultimate rationale for our existence.
  • Richard Dawkins --
  • The Selfish Gene (1976)

Contingency v.s.deep structures Re-run the
tape of evolution?
When you examine the tapestry of evolution you
see the same patterns emerging over and over
again. Gould's idea of rerunning the tape of life
is not hypothetical it's happening all around
us. And the result is well known to biologists
evolutionary convergence. When convergence is the
rule, you can rerun the tape of life as often as
you like and the outcome will be much the same.
Convergence means that life is not only
predictable at a basic level it also has a
direction. Simon Conway Morris Life's Solution
Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe (CUP,
Convergent Evolution?
Convergent evolution in mechanical design of
lamnid sharks and tunas Jeanine M. Donley, et al.
Nature 429, 61-65 (6 May 2004)
Convergent Evolution
  • North America
  • Placental Sabre-toothed cat
  • South America
  • Marsupial Sabre-toothed cat

Convergent Evolution
compound eye
camera eye
Convergent Evolution?
  • Enormous number of examples ... from proteins to
    vision up to societies to intelligence.
  • Are rational conscious beings an inevitable

Christian approaches to emergence of biological
  • Origins does where we come from determine who we
    are and how we should then live?
  • Christian approaches
  • Young Earth Creation Science
  • Earth is about 10,000 years old
  • Genesis 1,2 are historical in the modern sense
  • mainly in the last 50 years
  • Progressive Creationism
  • Earth is old
  • Complexity came about through miracles
  • Varied views on exegesis of Genesis
  • Theistic Evolution
  • Earth is old
  • Complexity came about through normal processes of
  • Genesis 1,2 are theological (framework view
    --prose poem)
  • Intelligent Design
  • All the above views are strictly creationists
    and believe in intelligent design
  • Capital ID is a more recent movement, could be
    YECS, PE, or TE.

  • GOOD
  • Motivated by desire to uphold scripture
  • easiest to rationalise with Genesis
  • great at popularisations
  • Good understanding of the dangers of evolutionism
  • characterised by heated rhetoric and false
  • But can't we be Christian evolutionists, they
    say. Yes, no doubt it is possible to be a
    Christian and an evolutionist. Likewise, one can
    be a Christian thief, or a Christian adulterer,
    or a Christian liar! Christians can be
    inconsistent and illogical about many things, but
    that doesn't make them right.
  • -- HM Morris, 1980, King of Creation, pp.83-84
  • Reinforces conflict metaphor
  • Often fast and lose with quotes and science
  • Disconnected from scientific community and
    tapestry arguments
  • very hard to reconcile with science (Avaroism?)
  • http//
  • http//
  • Ken Ham, Henry Morris, Duane Gish, Jonathan

Advice from Augustine
  • It is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an
    infidel to hear a Christian, while presumably
    giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, taking
    nonsense. We should take all means to prevent
    such an embarrassing situation, in which people
    show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh
    it to scorn .... If they find a Christian
    mistaken in a field which they themselves know
    well, and hear him maintain his foolish opinions
    about the Scriptures, how then are they going to
    believe those Scriptures in matters concerning
    the resurrection of the dead
  • St. Augustine

Advice from Augustine
  • In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our
    vision, we find in the Holy Scripture passages
    which can be interpreted in very different ways
    without prejudice to the faith we have received.
    In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and
    so firmly take our stand on one side that, if
    further progress in the search for truth justly
    undermines our position, we too fall with it. We
    should not battle for our own interpretation but
    for the teaching of Holy Scripture. We should
    not wish to conform the meaning of Holy Scripture
    to our interpretation, but our interpretation to
    the meaning of Holy Scripture.

Progressive Creationism/Concordism
  • GOOD
  • Motivated by desire to harmonise scripture with
  • often accepts most of Natural History
  • easier to rationalise with scripture than TE
  • a middle way?
  • No one clear scheme --
  • doesnt solve some thorny questions (like death
    before fall)
  • Not always as easy to reconcile with science
  • http//
  • Hugh Ross, Norman Geissler

Theistic Evolution/Biologos
  • GOOD
  • Motivated by desire to harmonise scripture with
  • easier to rationalise with science
  • dominant view among professional scientists and
  • More difficult to harmonise with scripture
  • doesnt solve some pressing questions (like death
    before fall)
  • Sometimes misses the dangers of evolutionism
  • http//
  • http//
  • Francis Collins, Denis Alexander, B.B. Warfield,
    Henri Blocher

What kind of literature?
  • Genesis 1-23
  • Phrases that occur 10 times
  • 10 times God said (3 for mankind, 7 for other
  • 10 times creative commands (3 x let there be
    for heavenly creatures, 7 x let for world
  • 10 x To make
  • 10 x According to their kind
  • Phrases that occur 7 times (heptads)
  • and it was so
  • and God saw that it was good
  • Genesis 1-23
  • Phrases that occur 3 times
  • God blessed
  • God created
  • God created men and women
  • Other numerical patterns
  • Intro 11-2 contains 21 words (3 x 7) and
    conclusion (2 1-3) contains 35 words (5 X 7)
  • Earth is mentioned 21 times and God 35 times
  • -- see e.g. H. Blocher In the Beginning, p 33
    or E. Lucas Can We Believe Genesis Today , p 97

What kind of literature?
  • Day 1
  • The separation of light and darkness
  • Day 2
  • The separation of the waters to form the sky and
    the sea
  • Day 3
  • The separation of the sea from dry land and
    creation of plants
  • Day 4
  • The creation of the lights to rule the day and
    the night
  • Day 5
  • The creation of the birds and fish to fill the
    sky and sea
  • Day 6
  • The creation of the animals and humans to fill
    the land and eat the plants

Day 7 The heavens and earth were finished
and God rested
What kind of literature?
  • Is it chronological?
  • "Now what man of intelligence will believe that
    the first and the second and the third day
    existed without the sun and moon and stars?
  • Origen 185 - 254 First Principles, 4.3
  • On this subject there are three main views.
    According to the first, some wish to understand
    paradise only in a material way. According to
    the second, others wish to take it only in a
    spiritual way. According to the third, others
    understand it both ways, taking some things
    materially and others spiritually. If I may
    briefly mention my own opinion, I prefer the
  • Augustine of Hippo (354-430) De Gen. ad litt
    VIII, 1. (on the literal interpretation of

What kind of literature?
  • Strong internal hints at elevated prose, more
    like Revelation than like Luke
  • Two separate narratives (tablets)
  • Numerical patterns
  • Thematic patterns
  • A common understanding of church fathers, early
    Jewish commentators and early Evangelical
  • Main theological teachings are crystal clear
  • Physical interpretation less so -- there science
    can take a servant role and help you decide.
  • We must be very careful not to import our own
    cultural biases into interpretation

AsideEmergence of Humans?
e.g. at what age is a child spiritually
responsible to God? John Stott on Homos Divinus
  • Advice from C.S. Lewis
  • When the author of Genesis says that God made man
    in His own image, he may have pictured a vaguely
    corporeal God making man as a child makes a
    figure out of plasticine. A modern Christian
    philosopher may think of the process lasting from
    the first creation of matter to the final
    appearance on this planet for an organism fit to
    receive spiritual as well as biological life.
    Both mean essentially the same thing. Both are
    denying the same thing -- the doctrine that
    matter by some blind power inherent in itself has
    produced spirituality.
  • (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock Eerdmans (1970), p

Advice from Billy Graham
  • "I don't think that there's any conflict at all
    between science today and the Scriptures. I think
    that we have misinterpreted the Scriptures many
    times and we've tried to make the Scriptures say
    things they weren't meant to say, I think that we
    have made a mistake by thinking the Bible is a
    scientific book. The Bible is not a book of
    science. The Bible is a book of Redemption, and
    of course I accept the Creation story. I believe
    that God did create the universe. I believe that
    God created man, and whether it came by an
    evolutionary process and at a certain point He
    took this person or being and made him a living
    soul or not, does not change the fact that God
    did create man. ... whichever way God did it
    makes no difference as to what man is and man's
    relationship to God.
  • - Billy Graham quoted by David Frost
  • Source Book - Billy Graham Personal Thoughts of
    a Public Man (1997, p. 72-74)

  • Science/Faith is really about how do I obtain
    reliable knowledge about the world
  • Key point is delineating the limits of science
    (Peter Medewar)
  • Conflict metaphor / mechanismmeaning / nothing
    buttery / scientism / God of the gaps / anthropic
    principle/ unreasonable effectiveness of
  • Bible teaches God sustains all the world -
    science studies customs of creator
  • Origins questions are complex
  • Many different interpretations of nature and
    Genesis 1-3
  • Our common enemy is philosophical naturalism
  • The Metaphilosophy of Naturalism, Philo 4, 2
  • by Quentin Smith http//
  • The justification of most contemporary
    naturalistic views is defeated by contemporary
    theist arguments
  • Naturalists passively watched as realist
    versions of theism, most influenced by
    Plantingas writings, began to sweep through the
    philosophical community, until today perhaps
    one-quarter or one-third of philosophy professors
    are theists, with most being orthodox Christians.

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History of life on earth
earth forms from accretion disk
  • Grandeur of God?
  • humans -- last 2 seconds of 24 hr day
  • not unlike astronomy the heavens declare the
    Glory of God - Psalm 19
  • What is man that you are mindful of him? Psalm 8

Late Heavy Bombardement
  • 4-3.8 Billion years
  • Brutal some impacts probably vaporized the sea.
  • Any life wiped out

First fossils?
  • First chemical evidence for fossilized life --
    3.8 to 3.5 Billion years ago
  • -- evidence is C12 enrichment
  • -- Hopanes from cyanobacteria (microbes
    responsible for generating Oxygen) found 2.5
    Billion year old shale

Origin of life
Cambrian Explosion
what happened here? Origin of life?
Origin of life
  • The problem of the origin of life has much in
    common with a well-constructed detective story.
    There is no shortage of clues pointing to the way
    in which the crime, the contamination of the
    pristine environment of the early earth, was
    committed. On the contrary, there are far too
    many clues and far too many suspects. It would
    be hard to find two investigators who agree on
    even the broad outline of events.
  • Leslie Orgel (1998)

Advice from Schaefer
  • We must take ample time, and sometimes this will
    mean a long time, to consider whether the
    apparent clash between science and revelation
    means that the theory set forth by science is
    wrong or whether we must reconsider what we
    thought the Bible says.
  • Francis Schaefer

Intelligent Design (capitalised)
heterogeneous movement -- will focus on ID
centred at Discovery Institute
  • some key publications and people
  • The Mystery of Lifes Origin (1984)
  • Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley, Roger L.
  • Evolution, a Theory in Crisis (1986)
  • Michael Denton
  • Darwin on Trial (1991)
  • Philip Johnson
  • Darwins Black Box (1996)
  • Michael Behe (CT book of the year)
  • Icons of evolution (2000)
  • Jonathan Wells
  • No Free Lunch (2001)
  • William Dembski

What is ID
  • Intelligent agency, as an aspect of scientific
    theory making, has more explanatory power in
    accounting for the specified, and sometimes
    irreducible complexity of some physical systems,
    including biological entities, and/or the
    existence of the universe as a whole, than the
    blind forces of. . . matter.1 That is,
    intelligent design is a better explanation for
    entities exhibiting complex specified information
    (CSI) than are appeals to the inherent capacities
    of nature (i.e. chance and/or physical
    necessity). ID suggests that the world contains
    objects that exhaust the explanatory resources of
    undirected natural causes, and can only be
    adequately explained by recourse to intelligent
  • (definition from Peter S. Williams)

Irreducible Complexity
Michael Behe (1996)
  • Bacterial flagellum, immune system, etc... are
    too complex to have evolved
  • This result is so unambiguous and so significant
    that it must be ranked as one of the greatest
    achievements in the history of science ... The
    discovery of intelligent design rivals those of
    Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and Schroedinger,
    Pasteur and Darwin.

Complex Specified Information
William Dembski
  • CSI -- information that could not have come
    there by chance alone?
  • e.g. when we see a statue v.s. weathered rock
  • Law of the conservation of information

Intelligent Design
  • Philosophical issues
  • Definition of science (demarcation) ?
  • Problems, but why not follow the evidence?
  • Theological issues
  • when/why does God intervene?
  • miracles?
  • Newman/Barth critique

ID and Christians
  • Major issues is -- why these miracles?
  • Miracles occur to serve Gods redemptive purpose
  • Origin, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin etc...

And I hold, that when God works miracles, he
does not do it in order to supply the wants of
nature, but those of grace. Whoever thinks
otherwise, must needs have a very mean notion of
the wisdom and power of God Leibnitz
e.g. what is the Biblical rationale for
supernatural action aiding the creation of the
Intelligent Design (capitalised)
  • GOOD
  • Looking at complex questions in
  • counteracting evolutionism
  • middle road, broad church?
  • Detached from scripture
  • doesnt solve some pressing questions (like death
    before fall)
  • very political
  • http//
  • William Dembski, Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer,
    Paul Nelson

  • Origins questions are complex
  • Immediatism
  • Anti-traditionalism
  • Populism ..
  • Our common enemy is philosophical naturalism
  • The Metaphilosophy of Naturalism, Philo 4, 2
  • by Quentin Smith http//
  • The justification of most contemporary
    naturalistic views is defeated by contemporary
    theist arguments
  • Naturalists passively watched as realist
    versions of theism, most influenced by
    Plantingas writings, began to sweep through the
    philosophical community, until today perhaps
    one-quarter or one-third of philosophy professors
    are theists, with most being orthodox Christians.

Calvin on using science
  • As far as I am aware, there is no evidence that
    Galileo had any direct knowledge of Calvin's
    writings. Nevertheless his understanding of the
    nature of the language used by the Bible when
    referring to the natural world is the same as
    Calvin's as the following quotations from the
    Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina show.
  • B1. These propositions set down by the Holy
    Ghost were set down in that manner by the sacred
    scribes in order to accommodate them to the
    capacities of the common people, who are rude and
    unlearned. (p. 181)
  • B2. It is necessary for the Bible, in order to
    be accommodated to the understanding of every
    man, to speak many things which appear to differ
    from the absolute truth so far as the bare
    meaning of the words is concerned. (p. 182)
  • B3. For that reason it appears that nothing
    physical which sense-experience sets before our
    eyes, or which necessary demonstrations prove to
    us, ought to be called in question (much less
    condemned) upon the testimony of biblical
    passages which may have some different meaning
    beneath their words. (p. 182f)
  • B4. ...having arrived at any certainties in
    physics, we ought to utilize these as the most
    appropriate aids in the true exposition of the
    Bible and in the investigation of those meanings
    which are necessarily contained therein, for
    these must be concordant with demonstrated
    truths. (p. 183)
  • The first two quotations express the same
    'accommodation' understanding of biblical
    language as Calvin adopted. The third recognises
    that, as a result of this, the literal sense of
    the biblical text may sometimes be at variance
    with the scientific understanding of the natural
    phenomenon described. In the final quotation
    Galileo makes the point made by Prof. McKay that
    one reason why biblical interpreters should take
    scientific knowledge into account is that it will
    help them to recognise when the biblical writers
    are using the language of appearance or cultural
    idioms, and so help them avoid the kind of
    misinterpretation made by those who condemned
  • lehttp//

  • 1 Isis. 2000 Jun91(2)283-304.
  • B. B. Warfield (1851-1921). A biblical
    inerrantist as evolutionist.
  • Livingstone DN, Noll MA.
  • School of Geosciences, Queen's University of
    Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • The theological doctrine of biblical
    inerrancy is the intellectual basis for modern
    creation science. Yet Benjamin Breckinridge
    Warfield of Princeton Theological Seminary, the
    theologian who more than any other defined modern
    biblical inerrancy, was throughout his life open
    to the possibility of evolution and at some
    points an advocate of the theory. Throughout a
    long career Warfield published a number of major
    papers on these subjects, including studies of
    Darwin's religious life, on the theological
    importance of the age of humanity (none) and the
    unity of the human species (much), and on
    Calvin's understanding of creation as
    proto-evolutionary. He also was an engaged
    reviewer of many of his era's important books by
    scientists, theologians, and historians who wrote
    on scientific research in relation to traditional
    Christianity. Exploration of Warfield's writing
    on science generally and evolution in particular
    retrieves for historical consideration an
    important defender of mediating positions in the
    supposed war between science and religion.

James Orr
  • One of the original Fundamentalists
  • There is not a word in the Bible to indicate that
    in its view death entered the animal world as a
    consequence of the Sin of man.
  • When you say there is the six days and the
    question whether those days are meant to be
    measured by the twenty-four hours of the suns
    revolution around the earth -- I speak of these
    things popularly. It is difficult to see how
    they should be so measured when the sun that is
    to measure them is not introduced until the
    fourth day. Do not think that this larger
    reading of the days is a new speculation. You
    find Augustine in early times declaring that it
    is hard or altogether impossible to say what
    fashion these days are, and Thomas Aquinas, in
    the middle ages, leaving the matter an open

C.S. Lewis
  • When the author of Genesis says that God made man
    in His own image, he may have pictured a vaguely
    corporeal God making man as a child makes a
    figure out of plasticine. A modern Christian
    philosopher may think of the process lasting from
    the first creation of matter to the final
    appearance on this planet for an organism fit to
    receive spiritual as well as biological life.
    Both mean essentially the same thing. Both are
    denying the same thing -- the doctrine that
    matter by some blind power inherent in itself has
    produced spirituality.......
  • Does this mean that Christians on different
    levels of general education conceal radically
    different beliefs under an identical form of
    worlds? Certainly not. For waht they agree on
    is the substance, and what they differ about is
    the shadow. When one imagines his God seated in
    a local heaven above a flat earth, where another
    sees God and creation in terms of Professor
    Albert North Whiteheads philosophloosely,
    process theology, this difference touches
    precisely what does not matter.
  • (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock Eerdmans (1970), p

The Westminster Confession's doctrine of the
clarity of Scripture (17) goes hand in hand with
its inspiration, infallibility, and authority.
Yet it implies that not all parts of the
Scriptures are equally clear or full. Here we
must follow Calvin's great motto that where God
makes an end of teaching, we should make an end
of trying to be wise.(11) With Augustine and E.
J. Young, the revered teacher of our senior
faculty members, we recognize that the exegetical
question of the length of the days of Genesis 1
may be an issue which cannot be, and therefore is
not intended by God to be, answered in dogmatic
terms. To insist that it must comes dangerously
close to demanding from God revelation which he
has not been pleased to bestow upon us, and
responding to a threat to the biblical world view
with weapons that are not crafted from the words
which have proceeded out of the mouth of God.
Westminster Theological Seminary
Bible is not a science textbook
  • The whole point of scripture is to bring us to a
    knowledge of Christ --- and having come to know
    him (and all that this implies), we should come
    to a halt and not expect to learn more.
    Scripture provides us with spectacles through
    which we may view the world as Gods creation and
    self-expression it does not, and was never
    intended, to provide us with an infallible
    repository of astronomical and medical

John Calvin 1509-1564
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