Posted by: gcarkner | November 13, 2012

Faraday Film & Faculty Panel on Origins

Faraday Institute Film & Faculty Panel on Biological Origins

Wednesday, November 14 @ 4:00 p.m, Woodward IRC Room 5 (UBC Gate One)

(Reading Material: Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies.) 

UBC Regent & TWU Live Panelists (moderator Martin Barlow)

  • Bart van der Kamp, Professor Emeritus and Former Head of Forestry, UBC
  • Iain Provan, Professor of Ancient Hebrew Literature, Regent College
  • Judith Toronchuk,  retired Professor Biopsychology, Trinity Western University 

Reflections on the Panel Discussion: Dr. Iain Provan

I enjoyed being part of the panel last Wednesday.  The topic we were discussing was the important one of “reading God’s two books” – creation, on the one hand, and Scripture, on the other.  Can we read these two books together, with integrity?  I believe that we can, IF we avoid making mistakes in reading either one.

On the side of “reading creation,” for example, one of the mistakes we have made is in the area of what some people call “natural evil” or “physical evil” – tsunamis, earthquakes, and the like.  We call such things “evil,” and then we are faced with the “problem” of reconciling the suffering arising from this “evil” with the idea of a good Creator.  But I don’t think it makes any sense to call “evil” the suffering in the world that is an inevitable outcome of the fact that the good God has made the world in the particular way that he has, and not in some other way.  This kind of suffering is simply a consequence of living in this world, and not another one.  You will suffer if you put your hand in a fire.  It’s not pleasant.  It hurts.  But evil does not come into it.  Likewise, moving tectonic plates are necessary for the proper and good functioning of this world, but sometimes moving tectonic plates do cause earthquakes and tsunamis.

On the side of “reading Scripture,” one of the mistakes we have made is to think we are reading Scripture “literally” when actually we are not.  To read any text literally is to read it in accordance with its literal sense, in its historical and cultural context.  This includes a book like Genesis.  We all too often make Genesis try to speak about realities in which it really has no interest (e.g. the origin of matter, or the precise processes by which the world came to be as it is now).  In focusing on such matters, we fail to consider properly the subjects in which Genesis is interested – for example, our human vocation in the world as God’s image-bearers, including our calling to look after the earth.  It is one of the disastrous aspects of the debate about faith, Bible and science in the last 150 years, in fact, that in trying to make a book like Genesis speak to our questions about physical, chemical and biological processes, we have failed to allow it to question us about philosophy, politics, economics, and ethics.  Yet I can get through my entire day without knowing precisely how I got here.  I cannot get through an entire day without knowing what it means to be here – who I am, what my job is, what my purpose is, what I should hope for, and so on.  Science cannot answer such questions. Scripture does.

Follow-up Reading on Origins:

Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies.
Cambidge Companion on Darwin.
Alister E. McGrath, Darwin & the Divine: evolutionary design and natural theology.
David Livingstone, Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders.
John Polkinghorne, Faith of a Physicist.
Simon Conway Morris, Life’s Solution.
Francis Collins, The Language of God.
David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: the Christian Revolution and its fashionable Enemies.

Distinguished Participant in the Faraday Institute Film on Origins and Evolution

Many have been guests of the GFCF in past years

  • Sir John Polkinghorne, former top Mathematical Physicist, former President of Queens’ College, Cambridge, and a World Authority on the Science and Religion Discourse
  •  Katherine Blundell, Astrophysicist, Oxford University
  •  William Dembski, American Mathematician and Philosopher, Proponent of Intelligent Design
  •  Simon Conway Morris, Palaeobiologist, Cambridge University.
  •  Sir John Houghton, Climate Scientist, Former Chair of the Scientific Assessment Panel of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • Alister McGrath, Theologian of Science & Religion, King’s College, London
  • Ard Louis, Biophysicist, Oxford University
  • Denis Alexander, Director or the Faraday Institute for Science & Religion, Cambridge University and Former Cancer Researcher.
  • Francis Collins, Former Director, Human Genome Research, now the Director of the National Institute of Health, Maryland.

Questions Discussed in Film

  • What is the explanatory power of evolution theory? What does it fail to explain?
  • What are we to think of Intelligent Design Theory and irreducible complexity?
  • Is evolution compatible with belief in a God or does it eliminate need for God?
  • Is evolution at all compatible with the biblical account of origins in Genesis?
  • Can we apply evolution theory to human morality?
  • What are we to make of the misuse of evolutionary theory in eugenics?
  • What about the dark side of evolution–its waste, destruction, elimination?
  • Should evolution ever be taken as a philosophy of life?
  • What is our human responsibility to be stewards of our blue-green planet?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: