Friday, February 19, 2010

Regent College Pastors’ Conference: Science & Faith

In January, I mentioned a conference to be held on the east coast, and now there’s one in a similar vein on the west coast. At least one of Langley’s pastors is attending, and I would highly recommend this as a wonderful opportunity to have some sustained engagement on a number of issues regarding science & Christianity. The seven main sessions are listed below, and you can get all the details at the conference website. Of these speakers, I have only heard Alexander before, presenting at TWU three years ago on Dawkins. A good number of Canadian Reformed ministers have told me they’ve benefited significantly from events, speakers, and resources at Regent College in the past, and thus I expect this conference too will be well received and valued. Thus, if you read this, and live in the vicinity of Vancouver, recommend it to your pastor as well.

Below is a preview of the detailed information, taken from the website.

Wonder and Devotion: Bringing Science and Faith Together for the Church

Why a conference about science and theology for pastors? One of our evangelical forefathers believed theology and science to be the “twin daughters of heaven.” In fact, during the 19th century twenty percent of the content of the Princeton Review theological journal was of a scientific nature! Only our capitulation to the influence of the Enlightenment which dichotomized faith and science makes this seem strange. You can relax though! This conference is expressly for non-scientist pastors as well as the geeks!

Sadly, the worldview of Modernity and the conflict around the science of origins has led many of us as pastors to stay away from engaging science in our public ministries, with the consequence that many young people flounder, lose their faith, or abandon careers in science. Even more importantly, we have robbed ourselves—and our people—of one of the “two books” by which God has revealed himself. We have dulled the sense of wonder and worship that emerges from the habits of discovering and delighting in science.

We hope through this conference to recover that sense of wonder by re-awakening the inquisitiveness and curiosity that ought to characterize us as persons made in the image of God the Creator—commissioned to continue his creative work. This will equip us to affirm the work of scientists as devotion, to invoke in our young people fearlessness about discovering all reality, and spur our people on in fulfilling what it means to be humans fully alive living out the first great mission given to all humans—the creation mandate. We won’t ignore the controversial matters, but above all we will be about developing a way of being that is the heart of the Gospel, which calls us to live in creation and participate joyfully in the new creation.

Main Speakers
  • Ross Hastings: The Coinherence of Faith and Science: Matter that Matters (an exposition of John 1:1-18)

  • Denis Alexander: How and Why are Science and Faith First Cousins?

  • Alan Torrance: Unsaddling the Four Horsemen of Modern Atheism! Liberating Science from Naturalism

  • Denis Alexander: Creation or Evolution—Do We Have to Choose?

  • Alan Torrance: The Challenge of Neuroscience: Toward a Theological Perspective on Being a Person

  • Iain Provan: “There Was Light” - Or Possibly Darkness: Reading Genesis 1-2

  • Darrell Johnson

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Book Review on Evolutionary Emergence

One of the struggles that I as a biologist have when looking at the evidences for evolution is an apparent conflict between pattern and process. By this I mean that when I look at the DNA sequence evidence, it seems to point to common ancestry. However, when I look at evolutionary mechanisms I am much less convinced. One of the sticking points is how the major evolutionary transitions might have occurred – for example in the case of the origin of life or the origin of humans. These evolutionary transitions include the appearance of new traits that cannot be reduced to their constituent parts – a phenomenon called evolutionary emergence. Two recent books address this evolutionary emergence but from opposing perspectives. Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design was written by Stephen Meyer, a fellow of the Discovery Institute and a proponent of Intelligent Design. Purpose in the Living World? Creation and Emergent Evolution was written by Jacob Klapwijk, a philosopher in the Dooyeweerdian tradition. As I point out in the review, although these two authors are not writing with each other in mind, their arguments do intersect at the question of evolutionary emergence, in particular on that of the mechanism of the origin of life. In this review I compare and contrast the arguments made by these two authors to see which arguments are more in line with what we see in creation. This review will be published in Dordt College’s publication Pro Rege in March but you are getting a preview here (with permission).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Response to Clarion coming

Our readers who also read Clarion will no doubt have noticed a significant effort by several writers in that unofficial organ of the Canadian Reformed churches to oppose evolution and/or promote the views of scientific creationists.

Be assured that we are well aware of significant problems in the positions taken by many of these writers, including their perception and subsequent portrayal of our own positions. First and foremost among these is a continuing lack of engagement of the distinction between evolution as a biological theory and evolutionism as an all encompassing philosophical worldview. Second is the misperception that we are attempting to use results of modern science to force a reinterpretation of Scripture. Third is a complete failure to face matters of Biblical and scientific hermeneutics, that is, the interpretation of Scripture and creation. Fourth is a troubling reliance upon the dubious though ever popular rhetoric of young-earth creationist organizations.

We expect in the next month or so, as time permits, to set the record straight by articulating these and other points in more detail, for the sake of the gospel and the advancement of God’s Kingdom for His glory, perhaps by means of responses in Clarion but also on this blog itself. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, your comments and E-mail responses to this blog entry are most welcome. Please be aware that we will likely not respond to many comments in detail --- after all we are drafting our detailed replies --- but we would appreciate hearing what our readers think about what’s transpired in Clarion.

Sincerely, from all of us at
Reformed Academic