Amongst Christians, evolutionary theory and the age of the earth are highly divisive issues, and our subscribers and committee members also have different opinions. The differences are quite stark and at least one party must be radically wrong. We have had speakers with various views in the past. On this occasion, Dr Gordon Stanger will present his contribution.
His summary of what he will cover is as follows:
In a North American study, 67% of young people, who had been given a Christian upbringing, had abandoned their faith. The primary reason given was that “science in general, and evolution in particular, disproves the Bible”.
At least a third of global Christianity teaches that:
Evolution isn’t true,
The Bible and science are incompatible, and
One must choose between Darwin and Jesus, and between God and evolution.
This issue is as polarized as vaxxers vs anti-vaxxers; US Republicans vs Democrats, Scientists vs climate deniers; or ‘Young Earth’ vs ‘Old Earth’ Christians.
But can Earth’s amazing panoply of life be generated by the seemingly random processes of evolution, and yet simultaneously be an outcome of God’s creative volition? Creationists emphatically say NO! I emphatically say YES! …..and will explain how this can be true.
In this presentation I will argue that evolution is a reality and that the true core of this issue is more a matter of Biblical interpretation. Do we read scripture from the modern perspective of Biblical literal inerrancy, or do we read it in its original context of multi-faceted visual imagery and a rich complex of early Hebrew linguistic idioms?
Science strongly indicates that a Biblical literalistic interpretation is erroneous, whilst using the original contextual frame of reference is consistent with reality. Science and Christianity are allies, not enemies.
Dr Gordon Stanger is a geologist, hydrologist, water resources specialist, and a climate-change impact analyst. He is semi-retired and is a keen advocate of ‘sensible Christianity’.
Transhumanism is the belief that humanity can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations by means of science and technology.
Already today there are huge advances:
Gene Editing enables cures (yes cures) for a number of terrible diseases, as well as the promise of many more, including cancers, diabetes and heart disease.
Brain Computer Interfaces are already being used to overcome paralysis and loss of limbs and may offer help for issues as diverse as dementia.
There are also AI powered scientific breakthroughs that may well yield radical life extension and even start to reverse aging.
Transhumanists believe that we have a moral obligation to take control of human evolution to prevent suffering and overcome our biological limitations, including death.
It sounds like science fiction, but much of the above is already happening and so much more is highly likely within the next 5-10 years. Given our secular society in the West, perhaps it should be no surprise that a growing and influential minority of voices have started to look to this science and technology “for salvation” to solve much of our suffering, and perhaps even death itself. Transhumanists believe that humanity now has the ability and the moral obligation to take charge of our own evolution. Yet it turns out that this serves to highlight the importance of the Christian worldview.
When Paul arrived in Athens (Acts 17: 16-32), a group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him, and they gave Paul the opportunity to speak to the Athenians in the Areopagus. For the previous 450 years, Greek and Roman philosophers had been debating God(s) versus chance in creation, and this debate continued for a further 250 years after Paul’s speech.
The debate began in 400 BC, when Democritus introduced the concepts of atomic atheism, the infinite power of chance, evolution, and determinism. This triggered Socrates to argue for God’s existence based on arguments from design, the power of the mind, and a predictable cosmos. Later, Epicurus invented naturalism as the framework for understanding science. Then the Stoics became the greatest intellectual opponents of atheism for 500 years, inventing systematic arguments for creation until atheism faded from the classical world by 300 AD. Why did atheism fade out?
This 700-year debate only came to light in 2007, so it is all quite a new slant on the classical world. Leonard Long will describe this 700-year debate and its relevance to our times.
Leonard is a retired doctor and has spent much of his retirement studying the historical development of thought and ideologies in Western culture.
We all know that our planet is special. But how unique is it really? Is there any evidence that pertains to our existence being extraordinary?
Join Gordon and Bronwyn as they explore this fascinating topic on what science has actually uncovered about the universe’s beginning and the features of our place in space that contribute to earth’s unique features. This will be a joint presentation from Bronwyn Pearse and Gordon Stanger.
Bronwyn Pearse is a primary school teacher who currently works with a number of people from different religious backgrounds. Having grown up in a Christian family she has always enjoyed asking questions and digging deeper into the truth claims of Christianity. In recent years she has been exploring what makes Christianity unique amongst the world religions and the scientific evidence for a creator found, particularly in cosmology. During Bronwyn’s talk she refers to a couple of key web links. These can be found at https://reasons.org and https://reasons.org/connect-to-a-scho….
Dr Gordon Stanger is a geologist, hydrologist, water resources specialist, and a climate-change impact analyst. He is semi-retired and is a keen advocate of ‘sensible Christianity’. He has spoken on several occasions at our meetings. He is very knowledgeable on scientific issues, and we greatly appreciate his contribution.
Bronwyn and Gordon’s joint presentation can be viewed on YouTube.
Notwithstanding climate denialism, the long-term human implications of climate-change are alarming. World governments will not meet the Paris targets on climate change. We won’t even be close. Following a look at the science, we will examine the consequences of climate change from the perspective of climate-forced human migration. Some 3% of the projected global population will have no choice but to relocate, by about 2100. Nobody, not even the United Nations, which at least recognizes the problem, is doing anything about this looming crisis.
We were privileged to have Dr Hugh Ross give us a presentation on climate change. He covered the following topics:
Is climate change for real?
What can we do about it?
Just to warn you, he does believe it is real and is related to human activity, but he has some novel ideas on how it can be addressed without causing huge disruption to human flourishing.
You can purchase a Kindle version of his book on this topic from Amazon by clicking on the following link: Weathering Climate Change by Dr Hugh Ross.
Dr Hugh Ross was an astronomer/astrophysicist at the University of Toronto. He is the founder and president of Reasons to Believe, (www.reasons.org), and is the author of over 17 books including ‘The Creator and the Cosmos’, ‘Why The Universe is The Way it is ‘ and ‘Navigating Genesis.’ Ross has addressed students and faculty on over 300 campuses in the US and abroad and speaks at various churches and groups on a wide variety of science-faith topics. He runs a weekly meeting for sceptics and agnostics. He is asked to present to government agencies and atheists and leading contemporaries on the powerful evidence for a purpose filled universe.
Sex makes the world go round! Sexual attraction and the resulting sexual activity are vital to almost all forms of animal life, from the simplest to the most complex.
Without sex, life on planet earth would cease to exist. The variation in sexual activity across the animal realm is simply astounding. What is natural for wildlife, such as the birds and the bees and mammals and reptiles and fish and insects and everything else, and what are the implications for human sexuality?
According to Wikipedia, the “God of the gaps” is a theological perspective in which gaps in scientific knowledge are cited as evidence or proof of God’s existence.
This would have been a particularly attractive position at a time when people knew almost nothing, and could thus ascribe everything to God, but now that we know more and more, is God is getting squeezed out? Failures in gap arguments in the past have been embarrassing and counter-productive.
Are we in the process of eliminating God, or do gaps we still point to God, or is this an entirely erroneous concept in the first place?
Brian Schroeder presents the issues, and argue for the standard Christian response to this question. His talk is available on YouTube.
From ancient times people have gazed at the sun, moon and stars observing their consistent daily and seasonal motion, and assumed that all of this was ordered by a maker. The Enlightenment dismissed this as fanciful imagination, but as our power of observation of both the atomic and stellar scale has grown, we see increasing signs of order that only needs the slightest variation to prohibit life supporting conditions. Is there any other reason that can explain this observed fine tuning in our physical environment?
Steve White presents an outline of Fine Tuning and the Multiverse. He presents evidence for the fine tuning of our universe from the sub-atomic to the stellar scale and then discusses whether Multiverse theory can explain it. Do we just happen to live in one lucky, life-supporting version, among many other universes?
Stephen White has had a career as a physicist and is now retired.
John Lennox has challenged whether science can prove everything? However, in this presentation, Dr Leonard Long will address the question, “Can science prove anything?” Science is practised within a belief system based on unprovable presuppositions, and can study only the patterns of behaviour of an already given functional, predictable, universe. Scientists who wander into bad philosophy will be critiqued, as will scientism – the overblown belief in science.
So Leonard’s address includes the following topics:
Nature of science,
Ideological corruption within science, and
Interference of politics and funding within science.