Has not Science Debunked Biblical Christianity?

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1 Has not Science Debunked Biblical Christianity? Martin Ester March 1, 2012 Christianity SFU

2 The Challenge of Atheist Scientists Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. Atheist scientists claim that, with the great progress of science, it can now explain the whole world without any further need of God. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience / empirical evidence.

3 The Challenge of Atheist Scientists Dawkins (Oxford University) Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence. I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.

4 Does Science Really Explain the Whole World? Many people claim that science is only one way of obtaining knowledge. Aspects of the world that cannot be investigated scientifically include - Ethics: systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. - Aesthetics: dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. - Religion: collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values.

5 Does Science Really Explain the Whole World? Gould (Harvard University) [A magisterium is] a domain where one form of teaching holds the appropriate tools for meaningful discourse and resolution. The magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry.

6 Is Christianity Really Opposed to Science? The Christian faith challenges us to exercise our mind. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30) Many of the great universities have been founded by Christians based on a Christian world-view.

7 Is Christianity Really Opposed to Science? From the Charter of Harvard University (1650): WHEREAS, through the good hand of God, many well devoted persons have been, and daily are moved, and stirred up, to give and bestow, sundry gifts, legacies, lands, and revenues for the advancement of all good literature, arts, and sciences in Harvard College,... that may conduce to the education of the English and Indian youth of this country, in knowledge and godliness:...

8 Doesn t Evolution Disprove Christianity? Evolutionary biology assumes that more complex life-forms evolved from less complex ones through a process of natural selection. The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity. (Dawkins) Micro-evolution: variation within species, macro-evolution: variation that leads to new species.

9 Central Dogma of Molecular Biology Genome = Genes (Data) + Regulatory regions (Program)

10 Central Dogma of Molecular Biology Transcription of genes regulated by transcription factors (proteins)

11 Evolution Two-step process: (1) generate diversity in genotype and phenotype of offspring, and (2) test that diversity by natural selection. Mutations are heritable changes in genes occurring as a result of physical variations of the DNA. Over the generations, beneficial mutations will be preserved and multiplied, other mutations will be eliminated. Speciation: split of a species into two species that can no longer inter-breed.

12 Evolution Tree of life

13 Evolution Genome sequencing projects for human and many other species. Likelihood of finding a DNA sequence, similar to a given human coding DNA sequence, in the genome of mouse: 99% chicken: 75% fruit fly: 60% roundworm: 35%.

14 Evolution Pseudo-genes, i.e. DNA sequences that are very similar to a gene, but lost their function. Example: GLO Rat TCACCCGAGG Human Chimpanzee TCACCTG_GA TCACCTG_GA Orangutan TCACCCG_GA Macaque TCACCCG_GG The likelihood that the same highly unlikely mutation occurred independently in all primate genes is vanishingly small. This suggests that primates inherited this gene from rats.

15 Issues with Evolution Does not explain the origin of life. Where did the genetic information come from? Who programmed the (initial) genome? As long as there is no life, natural selection does not work, since there is no replication. Chicken-and-egg problem: need proteins to control the transcription of DNA, i.e. to make other proteins.

16 Issues with Evolution It was suggested that life started in an RNA world, but this has its own challenges. One of the current theories: simple life forms (bacteria) imported from other planets.

17 Issues with Evolution Evolution cannot well explain irreducibly complex machines, i.e. molecular machines consisting of multiple components that lose their function if any one of the components is not present. In the Cambrian explosion, 525 to 505 million years ago, most of the major animal phyla appeared. This sudden appearance is hard to reconcile with gradual evolution due to a long sequence of small mutations.

18 The Biblical View of Creation The Bible starts with the claim that God created the world and ends with the claim that God will create a new heaven and a new earth without sin. Throughout the Bible, the fact that God has created us is one of the main reasons to worship him.

19 The Biblical View of Creation Genesis 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth... And God said, Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky. So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.... Then God said, Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

20 The Biblical View of Creation God is transcedent in relation to his creation. We are made in his image, but he not in ours. God is imminent in his creation. God continues to create and maintain. He creates each of us uniquely. Nature is what God does (Augustine)

21 The Biblical View of Creation God is personal and Trinitarian in his creation. God is personal, not an impersonal principle. God is relational and wants to have relationship with us.

22 Issues with Creation Interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis Many Christians interpret these chapters figuratively, not literally. In particular day can refer to a much longer period of time in God s schedule ( age ). As another example, later in Genesis 3, the serpent is a symbol for Satan.

23 Issues with Creation How can we interpret parts of the Bible figuratively but others literally? - The Bible contains very different types of literature: history, poetry, prophecy, etc., which need to be interpreted accordingly. - Genesis 1 describes creative events that happened before any human was around. Clearly it is not history. - Genesis 1 shows signs of poetic structure ( And God said... and God saw that it was good.. ).

24 Issues with Creation If humans have been created through evolution, who were Adam and Eve? only metaphors describing the spiritual development of mankind, represent group of historical persons who in the course of the time got to know God their Creator, historical persons, not the first humans, but the first ones to whom God revealed himself,...

25 Conclusion Atheism: no God. Creationism: no (macro-)evolution. Intelligent design Evolution cannot account for the complexity of nature. There must have been an intelligent designer to provide the necessary components during evolution. Theistic evolution God creates through evolution.

26 Conclusion The Bible is no science textbook. Evolution is a biological theory, not a sociological theory or philosophy. Scientific models quickly become outdated (e.g., once junk DNA, now ncrna). Science and religion complement each other and should enter a dialogue rather than fight each other.

27 References Denis Alexander: Creation or Evolution: do we Have to Choose?, Monarch Books, Francis Collins: The Language of God, Free Press, Lee Strobel: The Case for a Creator, Zondervan, 2004.

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