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 02/09/2010 20:08
I remember watching a documentary quite a few years ago (at least 25) made by a team of geologists (not Christian). They were examining the bed of the Suez Canal expecting it to confirm the Ice Age. However, based on current scientific reasoning and modern specialist equipment, they came to the conclusion that the geological composition of the canal bed pointed far more to a sudden and catastrophic inrush of water which would fit perfectly with the OT account of the flood. This was not what they were expecting at all yet they couldn't deny their findings.

Another book contains references to fossilised complete palm trees found at the North Pole, pointing to the earth's climate being the same all over. Had the tree just died, it would not have been found in the standing position and, again, suggested a sudden and non-damaging burial.

Considering the amount of water which must have covered the earth during the flood, there must have been a huge downward pressure. Add to that, all the earth's creatures dead and buried intact beneath a huge amount of silt and is it not feasible to imagine how complete fossils could be found in deep layers of the earth's surface.

Another anomaly which occurs to me is that any genuine fossilised remains which died as normal would not survive long enough to be buried underground. They would decay and rot or be eaten by other animals long before being covered by the natural build up of silt. Even people who are immediately buried underground, decay and rot within a few years, unless they are embalmed.
Martin Skye (Guest) 02/09/2010 21:13
In any discussion about science and the Bible I often find that advocates of an old earth and evolution often claim to be the ones with the evidence based on the majority view. What seems to be overlooked is that the evidence for an old earth is identical to the evidence for a young earth.
Both creationist and old earth scientists examine the same rocks,fossils and biological processes.
Evidence of past events needs interpretation and the conclusions that are drawn depend on the observers assumptions about what is being observed.
What holds the conclusion together is the explanatory narrative that goes with the observations, the evidence, in and of itself, is unable to give any definitive answers.

Neither creationist nor old earth evolutionist knows for certain that their view is correct both can only believe in their conclusions.
So young earth or old earth are both positions of faith.

For myself, I choose to place my faith in God's word.
Alec (Guest) 02/09/2010 23:42
The evidence for an old earth is overwhelming. Not only are there many geological tools available which give indications of actual or relative age, what's important is that they all corroborate

Take the Atlanric jsut as one example. People in the past often wondered why the coast of Europe and africa looked like it fitted withthe coast of N and S America.

Reason is simple - they once did fit together until rifting due to plate tectonics casued the Atlantic to open up. It is still getting wider by a few centimeters every year. New oceanic crust is constantly being formed at the ridge that runs up the middle.

If you examine the magnetic propertied of the rocks either side of the mid oceanic ridge you find a pattern of symmetrical magnetic reversals which have ocurred over time - a long time.

It was the opening up of the Atlantic that gave rise to the igneous activity that occured in Skye, Rum, Mull and Arran way back at the start of the Palaeogene- 60 million years ago.

Radiometric dating of rocks from such places consistently returns figures that are all in agreement

The idea that plate tectonics didnt happen until Adam and Eve took a bite of a piece of fruit 6000 years ago is absurd in the extreme. Yet that is what YEC behoves one to believe. Paul writes about the groans of creation. Many a sermon was given after the 2004 earthquake / tsunami on how sin had corrupted everything including nature itself

It gets even more ludicrous when you look at the detail. The earths crust is of two very different types of rock - oceanic crustic and continental crust. Bothe have very fdifferent properties and behaviours and the differences are a key element in plate tectonics.

Are we to beliewve that God somehow created all these differnet types of tectonic plate, just primed ands ready to start moving, when the fruit was bitten?

Besides, if the earth had been created with the built in potential for geological catastrophes, then it can hardly have been "good" as Genesis 1 puts it. Clearly it was flawed.

Or else is it a case that the crust was uniformly of one type and the other type just somehow appeared? During the "flood" no doubt by some completely untestable, unverifiable process.

Plate tectonics alone provides incotrovertible evidence for an old earth. Its processes can be observed, measured and recorded.

The fact that it is totally at odds with whats in Genesis is where the "reconciliation challenge " is to be found

Penny Lee 03/09/2010 01:01
My goodness,

God must have a good laugh listening to us all tell him how much we know about His creation. Especially when we talk about "incontrovertible evidence". We must appear to Him like small children using their immature and very limited reasoning to state so emphatically that "we know without doubt" and that it conflicts with what He has told us through the Bible.

Sometimes, increased 'knowledge' is actually a hindrance as we get locked into a way of thinking and are constantly looking for nature and science just to confirm what we already 'know'.

I don't have any greater knowledge of science and nature than the next person but I can use the same human logic to form an opinion. Never would I state it as fact though. Are we cleverer than God so as to tell him what age the world is or how it is the way it is? Do we need to explain tectonic plates to God? I doubt it! Do we imagine that our little moment in time enables us to understand what God or evolution was doing billions of years ago? I'm amazed that you have that level of confidence in your own or others levels of knowledge.

There is nothing wrong in exploring our world and it is fascinating. However, I know my place in God's plan and am content with the limited understanding I have. It has been enough for me to understand my need of God and I guess I'll one day instinctively know all there is to know - but it won't actually matter any more!
Alec (Guest) 03/09/2010 09:16

If we discover things about our world and the universe, then God must be permitting us to find out these things. As we move along the journey of scientific discovery, our knowledge becomes refined. People thought the earth was flat at one time. They then came to know that it was "spherical" We now know that it is an oblate spheroid. Thats how accumulated knowledge goes

Similarly, Newton came up with his Laws of Motion. Which apply in 99.999 % of everyday situations. Einstein came along and showed that Newtosn laws were a particular case of a more general pattern. Newton wasnt "wrong" but his ideas were simply refined.

The sort of idea that we shouldn't try to know too much and just take a literal view of the bible is quite simply anti-intellectualism. Medieval thinking.

I would suggest that there are 2 reasons for this type of reasoning:

1) Comfort blanket theology which doesnt need any other knowledge or inputes. Its quite content with what it has.

2) An "eyes shut - fingers in the ears - lah lah lah" attitude because they know deep down that modern science is completely at odds with the Genesis myths. And they dont wasnt their fantasy spoiled but horrible nasty facts.

BTW, I have NEVER heard a convincing reconciling of the Fall / Sin scenario and plate tectonics. I hold it up as the ultimate example of the science / faith divide

David Robertson mnetions it in his infamous "Tsunami" article of Jan 2005:

where he says:

"When you read Genesis One notice the repeated refrain, ‘And God say that it was good’. God did not create the world to have natural disasters, cancer and death. Something came into the world which has upset the natural order of things and polluted the whole environment. That is why, as Paul tells us in Romans 8, the whole creation ‘groans as in the pangs of childbirth’. We are faced with two choices – either the world is as it is because that is the way things are, or things are the way things are because sin came in and corrupted a good and perfect creation."

DR claims to be non YEC as well!!!

The theologians simply cannot deal with the details of this. Which is why they avoid it like the plague. Once you start dealing with the details you hit a massive problem.

The YEC position is the only one which "works" All these trendy "theistic evolutionists" and the like are just trying to reconcile 2 mutually opposing ideas.

Trouble is, a church that preaches YEC is little more than an asylum with a cross on the roof......
Albert Dawson (Guest) 03/09/2010 09:28
'I am content with the limited understanding...' Very sad. In fact Andrea's response to Alec simply will not do: she is relegating herself to tired mediocrity and it shows. Alec spells it out and the response is to hide under the cloak of a god that she has not physically seen but fancifully interprets; a god that is interpreted in so many ways by so many religious leaders. A god that has - if it exists - supplied much misery owing to its inadequacies.Disasters, flies that blind children and a void of silence as Christians struggle to interpret 'god' in generous ways despite evidence to the contrary. What a mess. What a buried in the sand collection of wishful thinkers. Be away with your way of thinking and bring some fresh air into your thought processes. There might be a god but the Christian bible really does need to be reconsidered by its followers in the light of the enlightenement rather than candle light and fanciful interpretation. Have you heard the Archbishop of Canterbury struggling to explain his Christian certainity? What a laugh. A laugh that turns to tears of sadness in those that listen to him and his ilk. What a waste. Whar a lost opportunity.
Penny Lee 03/09/2010 12:14

You have completely misinterpreted what I said. I had already confirmed that I absolutely encourage knowledge and search for answers. I was talking about 'limited understanding' in comparison with God. Even the brightest person with the most advanced understanding and knowledge still has 'limited understanding' compared to God purely because they are human.

It is the arrogance of those who consider themselves even above God insomuch as they want to tell Him (if they could even consider Him to exist) all the faults in His creation and that they could have done it better.

Incidentally, I do not have any regard for the current Archbishop of Canterbury and feel he is seriously mixed up. I am not his judge but I don't see any evidence of a genuine relationship with God there.
Penny Lee 03/09/2010 13:09

"Trouble is, a church that preaches YEC is little more than an asylum with a cross on the roof.."

But it is what the Bible says. How can you say you believe the Bible and then reject the very opening chapters? If the very start of it is wrong, why believe any of the rest of it - so, why be a Christian? I have more respect for those who simply don't believe it at all than those who claim to but spend all their time trying to reinterpret it to fit with the majority view.

How is it that different people can look at the two options and come to very different conclusions? The fact that the majority hold to one view doesn't automatically make it the right one. Matters such as the shape of the earth and basic scientific laws are not in doubt because we can test them and see how they take place in everyday life. For this reason, we can discount the koran simply because it states that the earth stands on four pillars and that the sun sets into a muddle puddle! We know this is rubbish because we can see that neither of these things are true. We cannot test evolution or prove the age of our world. We can come up with theories but that is all they can ever be. Anything repeatedly put out with confidence to the masses will eventually be accepted as fact and that appears to be what is happening with these theories.

I welcome scientific tests on our environment but I have to have confidence in their accuracy. If a flawed theory is being used, you are going to get flawed results no matter how many times you go about it.

Of course God created a perfect world. Then sin entered in and corrupted it. You ask why this should affect tectonic plates. Other writings from the time record Noah as crying out and asking why the earth had tilted. If true, this could possibly explain the change in climate from a consistent one to extremes at both Poles. Surely, such a major event which tilted the earth (the flood?) would be enough to split the earth's crust if it had originally been intact. I really don't know - I wasn't there - and neither were these scientists who make predictions about times much earlier than this. It's silly. Whatever conclusions they come to, they have to consider they may well be wrong and if Stage 1 of your thinking is wrong, so too will any further ones be.

Yes, I could be wrong. The Bible and existence of God could be a lot of nonsense because we cannot prove it but I have never personally found it to be contradictory to my experiences and limited knowledge of science and nature, quite the reverse. As a result, I am more than happy to place my faith in God. Sure, I have questions I would love answered and things I don't understand but it doesn't affect my overall belief in God. I just accept I am trying to understand things way beyond the human level of understanding and no matter how intellectual we are, we cannot know all the facts of a time long past to enable us to use our logic to its right conclusion. That's not a lack of desire to know, or a burying of one's head in the sand - it is a fact. There are no records or way of accurately determining what happened billions of years ago.
Donald Boyd 03/09/2010 19:48
There is much still unknown about the geology of our planet. Here is a link about the current debate on rising sea levels:

Albert Dawson (Guest) 03/09/2010 20:05
And much that is known.
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