Conference on Christianity and Science

The apparent conflict between Science and Christianity is the subject to be addressed at a day conference in Inverness which will bring together three expert speakers on the theme.

The WorldConference on Christianity & Science

Inverness East Church Hall,

 Margaret Street, Inverness IV1 1LU

Saturday, 28 August, 2010

Dr Murdo MacDonald:
Director of the Church of Scotland's Science, Religion and Technology Project.

The Rev Dr Alistair Donald:
Church of Scotland Minister currently serving as Chaplain to Herriot Watt University.

The Rev Dr Arthur Fraser:
Minister and a former University Lecturer.

10.30am - Registration and Tea/Coffee
11.30am - Murdo MacDonald
‘Science and Christianity: Friends or Foes?'
12.45pm - Lunch
1.30pm - Alistair Donald
'What is Intelligent Design?'
2.45pm - Coffee
3.15pm - Arthur Fraser
'Can Christians believe in an Old Earth?'
4.30pm - Finish

Conference Fee: £5                 Bring a Packed Lunch: Tea and Coffee provided

Further information: Tel. 01463 236695

East Church, Inverness, 14/08/2010

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Penny Lee 01/09/2010 17:24
I believe in a young earth, exactly in keeping with the account in Genesis.

I also have no problem with science. My only reservations are with man's interpretation of science. Particularly claims about the age of fossils and rocks etc. There may well be an established formula for calculating the age of specimens but who can possibly say that it is the right formula? How can you possibly check it out as there's no-one around from these times to confirm the accuracy of it?

Those who believed the earth was flat were using their logic and common sense to come to that conclusion, after all if the ground looked flat you should be able to see as far as eyesight extends - but it was, of course completely wrong due to incomplete knowledge of the planet and its place in the solar system. However, thanks to those brave enough to sail towards what they thought was the 'end of the world', they discovered it was not as it all seemed.

Obviously, we can't go back in time and see just what was there up to billions of years ago so we have no way of knowing the scientific accuracy of what some might think is true. How many times do we still hear of the "Big Bang" when it has already been claimed by some scientists to be scientifically impossible, and their reasons given for saying so?

I find it very strange that people will completely reject the Bible, despite it being written by people who were around at the time, yet accept whatever scientists say about a time so far back in time that there is absolutely no records of anything from the time. No-one, no matter how intelligent and well-learned they may be, is infallible and it seems to me that they are treated as such.
Alec (Guest) 01/09/2010 19:39
The age of the Earth is one of those touchstones of orthodoxy. It has been established by looking at scientific evidence as over 4.5 billion years old. This fact is uspported not just by one piece of evidence but many, across several scientific disciplines. Evidence for an old Earth has been published in thousands of journals.

If all these scientists are wrong, then a massive part of the scientifc community has been barking up the wrong tree for years. They are not just a wee bit out, but massively so:

Old earth: 4,500,000,000,000 years old
Young earth: 6,000 years old

That's it laid out in noughts

The most telling thing about the case for a young earth is that there are NO (AFAIK) atheist or liberal Christian scientists who hold this view. If there WERE actual hard evidence for a young earth then there would be a number of them.

After all, the evidence would not be too hard to find - mammalian fossil bones in Pre-Cambrian strata would clinch it. Actually such a discovery would not just put the accepted age of the earth into question, it would pull the rug from under evolution.

The only reason for believing in a young earth is not because of science but because of a particular brand of faith. The starting point is fundamentalism predicated on biblical literalism, not scientific enquiry predicated on observing evidence, analysing it , publishing the results and leaving them exposed to potential falsification by subsequent research.

Heres a quote to ponder by a Christian geologist:

"Another possible danger is that in presenting the gospel to the lost and in defending God's truth we ourselves will seem to be false. It is time for Christian people to recognize that the defense of this modern, young-Earth, Flood-geology creationism is simply not truthful. It is simply not in accord with the facts that God has given. Creationism must be abandoned by Christians before harm is done. The persistent attempt of the creationist movement to get their points of view established in educational institutions can only bring harm to the Christian cause. Can we seriously expect non-Christian educational leaders to develop a respect for Christianity if we insist on teaching the brand of science that creationism brings with it? Will not the
forcing of modern creationism on the public simply lend
credence to the idea already entertained by so many
intellectual leaders that Christianity, at least in its
modern form, is sheer anti-intellectual obscurantism? I fear that it will."

[_Christianitiy and the Age of the Earth_, by Davis Young, Zondervan 1982. p. 163.]

Penny Lee 01/09/2010 20:09
Well Alec,

I'll defend Creation to my grave. I'd rather put my trust in the Creator than in a tiny part of His creation. If Jesus Himself confirmed it, that's good enough for me and the intelligentsia can go to their grave thinking whatever they like.

While I believe that created beings and plants began with the account in Genesis, it does not say the planet itself was created at that time. For all we know, it may have been around for billions of years. All the Bible actually says is that 'the earth was void and without form". It appears that God then re-shaped it to form hills and valleys and gather the water into confined areas. It would seem to make sense to me that this might cause compaction of rock which would normally be expected to take millions of years to bring about the same effect. I'm not saying this is definitely what happened but my own sense of logic and reasoning leads me to consider it a possibility, and that's all I would ever claim it to be since I am more than aware of the limits of my human understanding. Fascinating though I think it all is, ultimately it is not necessary for my salvation and I guess I'll get all the answers I need when I go to meet my God.

Albert Dawson (Guest) 01/09/2010 21:39
Andrea M: all the religious books - whatever religion - were written by humans.Competing humans. Devious humans. Political humans. Greedy humans. That being the case there should be noisy alarm bells in your ears and anxious questions upon your lips.
Penny Lee 01/09/2010 23:01
Yes, every other book but the Bible. Of course it was put together by people but under God's guidance and authority. That is the whole crux of the Christian faith. If we cannot believe that basic claim, we would be as well shut the book and forget all about God because it would make Him out to be a liar.

It is also the only book (as far as I know) which spans such a period of time, is written by many different people, yet is a continuing account of God's interaction with His creation, is consistent and gives factual accounts of the very prophecies which were made hundreds of years before. It gives us the very traits of even the most dedicated follower of God, warts and all and not one of them went through their life without committing some sort of serious action. It paints a picture of humans as they really are - all the things you mention and more besides, but most of all - rebellious - and that continues on as was foretold.

One of the things I admire most about the Bible is the very fact that it tells it as it was (and will be) and I see all through it the same sort of people who are around today, including myself. Flawed human beings who want to do it their way. Who don't want to find God in science or anywhere else. Because if they do, they have to then face up to the stark reality of their own eternity. The most tragic thing is that this doesn't go away just because it isn't addressed. If God exists and is the God of the Bible, that has enormous implications for us all. What a tragedy to go to a lost eternity simply because pride made us think we had control over our own fate after death. The ending was decided a long, long time ago and is a stark choice between two options. We do have the choice as to which one it will be but it comes at a cost - are we prepared to pay that cost?
Duncan Tamsett (Guest) 02/09/2010 11:13
1. It is not difficult to reconcile Gen 1 with Science! Allow the 6 Days to be 6 days of Vision rather than 6 days of instantaneous Creation. Creation (Heb) means 'to bring into being'. Instantaneous, even miraculous, is not necessarily implied. The last 150 years of Science then substantially affirms Gen 1 rather than contradicts it! (Daniel - "...and the Visions of the Evenings and Mornings that was told is true.").
2. Personally i regard Gen 2 as parable (Yeshua told parables!). Preach it as if it happened if you wish - but it didn't have to happen literally to tell us what we need to know about the state of our relationship with God.
3. 'The Fall' is Miltonian, not Biblical!
4. I do not generally admire the 'church fathers' but Augustine (3rd Cent) is growing on me. He said Xtians wld only succeed in making fools of themselves if they took Gen 1 over literally. Very prescient for a 3rd cent man.
5. Evol (if true) is utterly stupendous (truly 'Wonderful' in the Biblical sense of the word). It ought to raise the strong possibility of God - not be used as an excuse to dismiss Him. The Universe cld (shd)have been astoundingly dull. It turns out to be astonishingly vibrant (sorry i am not good at adjectives).
6. Personally i find a literal 6 day creation small minded and a dull idea. Of course 'God cld have done it'. But i hope God does not turn out to have a less expansive mind than Darwin / Wallace / Dawkins. I have very little fear of that.
john Wilson (Guest) 02/09/2010 14:04
"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

This is exodus 20 part of the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God. Reguardless of how one inerprets Genesis litereally or not this scripture is clearly not meant to be metaphorical, poetical or arrigorical.

It's clear as crystal. 7 days God made the heavens and earth and all that in them is (that would include the Stars on day 4) Most people totally ignore this and go with old earth models that place the stars millions/biliions of years before the earth.

So who's right? God who was there, has perfect knowledge, made everything or men who are fallible, wern't there and dont know everything

Duncan Tamsett (Guest) 02/09/2010 14:41
The passage you quote 'alludes' to Gen 1. It does not 'add' anything to it, or 'interpret' it; rather it is employed to establish Shabbat. Whatever Gen 1 means, it means the same thing (neither more nor less) in the passage you quote. (Interestingly most Xtians in any case disregard Biblical Shabbat despite it having been established 'by the finger of God' in favour of the Xtian tradition of some sort of observance of Sunday instead!)
George Orr 02/09/2010 15:01
1. It is not difficult to reconcile Gen 1 with Science!
You will find that evolution and science have a completely different order of 'events' compared to genesis 1.

2. Personally i regard Gen 2 as parable
The over allegorising of the scriptures is one of the biggest problems in Christianity. The subtle fudging of truth undermines the foundations of the faith.

3. 'The Fall' is Miltonian, not Biblical!
Clearly illustrating the above point.
If their was no first Adam; then what point did Jesus fulfil in His sacrificial death and resurrection? To deny Adam and the fall is to denigrate the sacrifice of Christ.
If there is no problem why did we need a solution!

4. Very prescient for a 3rd cent man.
Or very stupid!


To compare God to men shows the problem. If you start with the opinions of men you will only get forever changing theories and suppositions.
If you start with God and His revealed will in the scriptures then science, nature, mathematics and everything else has a place and purpose in the creation.
When the scriptures and the scientific evidence are looked at hand in hand; only then do we see the 'fallen' beauty of the universe revealed.

Romans 1 clearly shows how the natural man falls but it also shows how the carnal Christian can too.

Collosians 1:15-23 clearly shows who Christ is, what He has done and what He is doing. If Christians do not believe this they do so at their own peril.
Alec (Guest) 02/09/2010 19:21
I have to agree with George here - there is a critical cusp point in the Bible - the matter of the Fall. Christianity and its redemptive scheme is totally predicated on the consequences of this event. It behoves the existence of a literal Adam and a literal Eve.

It is completely at odds with any sort of evolutionary paradigm (forgetting the age of earth for a moment - it is almost irrelvent to the Fall)

Prior to the Fall, there was no death, no natural catastrophes - everything in perfect harmony, according to a literalist reading anyway,

This is where the clash of Faith and Science has its sharpest focus - they are 180 deg apart. Science tells us that there has been life on earth for billions of years, that humans have been around for 100s of thousands of years abd there was certainly death and destruction going right the way back in geological time.

I really cannot see how this can be resolved without compartmentalisation of belief / thought processes.

Its all very well saying as some do, that faith and science represent different ways of seeing the universe. Thats just Rowan Williams-esque gobbledygook.

I simply cannot see how doctrines like the Fall / Sin can be reconciled with a scientific worldview.

The only other way is to discount huge chunks of the bible - you then end up with "woolworths sweety theology" - you know - Pick n Mix........

I am a scientist. I am a christian. At times it feels like some sort of bipolar disorder where one flips from one binary state to the other.

If a detailed report of the main bullet points from the conference at the East Church could be made available here, it would be very helpful

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