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

1 comment:

Arnold Sikkema said...

Further to the above, I would like to note that there is, separate from the pastors’ conference itself, a public lecture at Regent College by Dr. Denis Alexander, at 8pm on Wednesday 5 May, entitled, “Creation and Evolution - the Difficult Questions.” I recommend this lecture, and the conference itself, not because I endorse the speakers and expect to hear only what I already am convinced of; on the contrary, since iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), participating in a communal conversation among other Christians who are addressing matters of science and faith is a good opportunity to become more fully aware of the issues and alternative responses to them. This whole issue, the (poorly named) “creation-evolution controversy”, calls for careful thought and consideration.

That is, I encourage engagement and discernment. Even though Denis Alexander is (apparently) a theistic evolutionist, and I am not, he has many valuable insights, asks good questions, and engages in respectful and charitable conversation. J.I. Packer, a well known Reformed theologian, highly respected by members of our churches as well, wrote of Alexander’s recent book, Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?: “Surely the best informed, clearest and most judicious treatment of the question in its title that you can find anywhere today.” Thus I’m looking forward to attending this lecture and discussing it with others from our church community.