STEUBENVILLE, OH—On December 2 and 3, Franciscan University of Steubenville hosted "Can Science Inform Our Understanding of God?: Competing Perspectives." The historic conference brought together leading Christian voices on science and faith issues to examine some of the biggest controversies of our time surrounding “the God debate.”
Drawing upon the latest scientific research and a wealth of philosophical reflection, the speakers wrestled with questions such as "Is it possible to make science and religion fit together seamlessly?" and "What are the boundaries between science, philosophy, and theology?" as well as topics related to finding evidence of God's existence in nature.
"Christian thinkers at the intersection of faith and science were able to get past a lot of stereotypes of each other's views," said Franciscan University theology professor Dr. John Bergsma, one of the conference planners. "I think that was the main gain of the conference. The interaction showed that some of the tension between different thinkers was a matter of defining terms differently."
"A lot of the alleged conflicts between religion and science is sheer confusion," said speaker Dr. Alvin Plantinga, author of Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism. "Go back to the beginning of modern science: The scientist is investigating God's world. God created the world, it works in certain ways, and a scientist figures out how it works. Obviously, there's no conflict there between believing in God and trying to figure out what the world is like. That would be like thinking there is a conflict between believing in the designer of a certain automobile and trying to figure out how this automobile works—no conflict at all."
The conference presenters were Dr. Benjamin Wiker, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, and Dr. Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, who spoke for the intelligent design point of view; Dr. William Carroll, Thomas Aquinas Fellow in Theology and Science, Blackfriars, University of Oxford, and Dr. Edward Feser, author of The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, who represented the Thomistic school of thought; Dr. Stephen Barr, author of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, and Dr. Jay Williams, coauthor of The Privileged Planet, who spoke on aspects of physics; and Dr. Alvin Plantinga, emeritus John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, who offered an "Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism."
Sponsored by Franciscan University's Departments of Biology, Philosophy, and Theology, conference cosponsors include the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, the Henkels Lecture Series, and Touchstone Magazine.