Scholarship Winner’s Reflection: Dayna Nelson

The CSCA is once again offering five scholarships of up to $1600 each to send Canadian students to science-religion conferences of their choosing. Here is a reflection from Dayna Nelson (B.A. cand., University of Waterloo), one of 2016’s winners.

Dayna Nelson attended the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation (July 22 – 25, 2016, Azusa Pacific University).

Cropped-Dayna

Andrew Reeves, Colborne Kemna, Dayna Nelson, and Timothy Opperman at ASA 2016.

ASA 2016 was a fantastic success, and it was my favourite of the conferences I’ve attended so far. The theme “Brain, Mind and Faith” was of particular interest to me because it focused on the interplay between psychology and religion–topics that are normally handled separately in my studies. Since I have not had the opportunity to study these in an integrated fashion, I was more than thrilled to explore it, albeit briefly, here.
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Thoughts on “Is Genesis History?”

by Bob Geddes

Bob GeddesI will be dating myself here: many, many years ago, actor Lily Tomlin, a master of many comedic roles, would portray a precocious five-year old girl named Edith Ann. Sitting in a vastly oversized chair, she would regale listeners with stories about her daily adventures, which often included her dog Buster. She would end each segment by saying “And that’s the truth,” followed by a moist, lip-induced raspberry. We are in a time where there is much focus on what is truth and what is factual. “Fake news” is a daily buzzword.

American Del Tackett, founder of “The Truth Project,” is the feature commentator of a movie creating another buzz in some Christian circles, entitled “Is Genesis History?”. I have not seen the movie, although it is being shown in selected Canadian cities on Tuesday, March 14. As a former geologist and retired minister, I have received a few emails seeking my advice on whether one should go see it. While not yet having access to the movie, I do trust those who have given it a geological review. Continue reading

Scholarship Winner’s Reflection: Timothy Opperman

The CSCA is once again offering five scholarships of up to $1600 each to send Canadian students to science-religion conferences of their choosing. Here is a reflection from Timothy Opperman (Regent College, Vancouver), one of 2016’s winners.

Timothy Opperman attended the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation (July 22 – 25, 2016, Azusa Pacific University).

Timothy (right) with Denis Lamoureux at ASA 2016.

I had a fantastic time attending the annual conference of the American Scientific Affiliation, and I felt particularly fortunate that my first time was the 75 Anniversary of the ASA. My mind was spinning with excitement as I arrived at Azusa Pacific University, and I had high expectations of quality lectures and presentations, as well as hope for some genuine connections with fellow attendees. I am pleased to say that my expectations were thoroughly exceeded. Not only were the presentations engaging and challenging, but I also met some of the most fascinating people from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Every element combined into an excellent experience that I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in the intersection of science and religion. Continue reading

Bringing Science to Church

Dr. Arnold Sikkema (CSCA President) was recently interviewed by Pastor Todd Gallahar of Burnett Fellowship Church in Maple Ridge, BC for a sermon on thinking about science.

How should church-goers think about science?

As C. S. Lewis put it, “anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about” (Mere Christianity, bk. IV, chap. 2). It’s no secret that there is a widespread perception of antagonism between church and the Bible, on one hand, and scientific progress, on the other. Prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins argue that science rules out religion, and the church has its own voices that view science with a measure of suspicion, suggesting that the Bible simply trumps science. But neither position sufficiently appreciates that since neither science nor Christianity is very simple, neither can their interaction be so. The challenge for pastors is to communicate about science in Christianity in a way that is both responsible toward these complex realities and accessible to church-goers.

Pastor Todd Gallahar of Burnett Fellowship Church in Maple Ridge, BC recently invited CSCA’s Dr. Arnold Sikkema — both a Christian and a physicist — to do a short video presentation to be included in his sermon on thinking about science. Sikkema makes the following helpful points for churchgoers, among others:

  • Neither the Bible nor science tells us everything about everything.
  • We should pray for and encourage Christians in the sciences.
  • Christians in the sciences can participate in the Christ’s ministry of reconciliation by helping to redeem creation, putting it “back to rights.”
  • The Bible cannot necessarily be used as scientific data to prove or disprove scientific theories, and Jesus’ miracles and Resurrection cannot be disproved by science.
  • Scientists are not trying to disprove the Bible; they are trying to understand the world.
  • Every good scientist actually tries to disprove currently-held theories.

Pastor Gallahar does a great job of communicating these things to his congregation: “If God created nature,” Gallahar reasons, “then science should point to the existence of God.” So it’s not that the Bible or nature communicates falsehood, but that we have fallen interpretations of both — good theology and good science will not conflict because revelation and creation both come from the same God.

Of course, there is always room for further reflection on these matters, and those of us digging deep into theology and the philosophy of science may wish to ask how science may point to God:

  • Some might say that it is not so much science itself that points to God (science does not have any methods or tools to conclude anything one way or the other about things outside of nature); rather, it is philosophical and personal reflection upon the findings of science that may point (or not) to God.
  • Others of us, advocating Intelligent Design, for example, will say that science does have the tools to point (or not) to God — with scientific authority.

Much more could be said on this, but Gallahar wisely sticks to those things most needful for his congregation regarding the larger discussion of Christianity and science.

Go Hear Pastor Todd’s Sermon

 

 

Nature, Nurture, and Destiny

From several corners of Western culture, the rallying cry entering the twenty-first century has been to be “true to oneself,” emphasizing “self-actualization”: a casting-off of traditional authorities and a rush to realize one’s own potential. But how are we to understand that potential, and the “self,” in view of modern genetics?

When considering the role of genetics in human behaviour, it’s not long before one runs up against the question of “nature or nurture,” and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say the West is rather confused about the matter. While some use genetics as a way to justify and explain their behaviour–being true to themselves in this way–others seem to perceive their nature as just one more “authority” to be overthrown: they want to actualize themselves in spite of their biology, insisting that humans are more than the sum of their parts. However, these same lines of reason may be heard with respect to one’s nurture. As often as one’s upbringing is used to explain why they act one way or another, the familiar urge to overthrow one’s upbringing, or tradition, is heard with comparable volume: people are more than the sum of their experiences, it is said. Questions of human freedom, identity abound–not to mention those of a spiritual nature.

In his upcoming talk at McMaster University,Are We Slaves to Our Genes?” (January 30), Dr. Denis Alexander will address the nature-or-nurture dichotomy from a scientific and Christian perspective. Among other things, he will discuss the theological implications of recent developments in developmental biology, genomics, epigenetics, and neural plasticity. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear a first-rate Science and Religion scholar address these pressing issues of our time!

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