on science/faith blogging…

miscellaneous thoughts…

  • if the time we spend is to be at all worthwhile, we need to accept that words matter enough to use them and work at our use of them (some key words in science/faith include: ‘knowledge’, ‘evidence’, ‘explanation’, ‘natural’, ‘reality’, etc).
  • it occurs to me that aiming for mutual understanding is infinitely more helpful than aiming to ‘win’.
  • it seems a good idea to avoid the trap of straw-man argumentation, or presenting someone else’s perspective in its worst form – which is often (mostly?) done with little quips or with sarcasm (often the more sustained an argument is, the less ‘straw-man-ish’ it is).
  • don’t post a comment while you’re angry/frustrated (and this obviously does not mean that comments should be –or even could be– totally void of emotion).
  • that is all for now (and I don’t claim to do all these all the time)…

teleology and stuff

The term ‘teleology’ comes from the Greek term ‘telos’, meaning a ‘goal’, an ‘end’, or that toward which a thing tends.

We often skip over or assume (or ignore?) the notion of teleology.  But without it, we cannot say that something is ‘wrong’ with anything.  We cannot speak of anything functioning ‘poorly’ or ‘well’, or of somthing having been ‘poorly’ or ‘well’ designed.  If things don’t tend toward any goal or end, we have no reason to be either pleased or disappointed with any given thing.

In this imaginary conversation, James Chastek cleverly points out how science cannot speak of whether or not the forces in nature are ‘blind’ or of some other kind.  All we can do is measure the result of these forces/causes – of whatever sort(s) they are.

the future of atheism

I’ve checked out a book from the Carey Baptist library that’s proving to be very interesting:

The Future of Atheism: Alister McGrath & Daniel Dennett in Dialogue

It’s essentially a written copy of a 2007 conference including the McGrath/Dennett debate and the other papers presented – plus a few additional chapters and an introduction by the author/editor, Robert B. Stewart.

What I particularly like about it (conference and book), is that it gives space for both sides to lay out their perspective.  Contributors include: Paul Copan, William Lane Craig, J.P. Morland, Keith M. Parsons, Ted Peters, Hugh J. McCann and others…

I look forward to reading as much of it as I can (probably late night reads while waiting for Thomas to feed, etc.!).

tansaa events in 2009

TANSAA (Theology and Natural Sciences Aotearoa Auckland – a group emerging from LaidlawCarey Graduate School) is finalising their programme for 2009, and it’s looking great.

I’m particularly chuffed about the Conference planned for August 1, hosted by my church, Northcote Baptist.  Details: Continue reading “tansaa events in 2009”

bob white in new zealand

Cambridge Geophysicist, Professor Robert (Bob) White is coming to New Zealand to take part in 3 events.

The first and second are the same talk both in Wellington and Auckland – a Christian Response to Global Warming (I’m planning on attending the Auckland talk).  For the third event (which I am sad to miss, due to a wedding up north), Robert will take part (with others) in a Symposium entitled: Science and religion in the 21st century: faith in science, science in faith.

Saturday, 14 March 2009, 8.30am-6pm
Theatre 401-439, ‘Neon Foyer’, Engineering School, Symonds Street, The University of Auckland
Please register for the symposium by Wednesday 11 March, with p.medhora@auckland.ac.nz
Cost $20, non-waged people $10 (refreshments and lunch provided)
Parking under Owen G Glenn building, $5 flat rate

I’ve provided the PDF flyer for download by clicking here. Continue reading “bob white in new zealand”

polkinghorne Q&A

I recently stumbled onto this listing of questions/answers at the website of physicist, Royal Society member… and priest John Polkinghorne.  They will be of interest to anyone interested in the interplay between science and religion, and will be of special help to Christians interested in the compatibility between evolution and the Christian faith.

religion impeding science?

In a 2007 debate with John Lennox (viewable here), Richard Dawkins vocalises his frustration that religion (in his view) ‘stuntifies’ true scientific understanding:

“The scientific enterprise is an active, seeking… an active seeking out of gaps in our knowledge… [a] seeking out of ignorance, so that we can work to plug that ignorance.  But religion teaches us to be satisfied with not really understanding.  Every time one of these difficult questions comes up, science says, ‘Right, let’s roll up our sleeves and work on it.’  Religion says, ‘Oh, god did it.’  ‘We don’t need to work on it, god did it. It’s as simple of that.’ …Religion stuntifies the impulse to understand, because religion gives a facile, easy, apparent explanation… and it prevents the further work on the problem. Continue reading “religion impeding science?”