Christians in Science Lecture: David Glass

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David Glass will present a lecture at the Christians in Science Ireland group at The Hub, Elmwood Avenue, Belfast on Tuesday 3rd February at 7:30pm. All are welcome to attend. The title of the lecture is ‘Can Science Explain Away God?’ Here’s an outline.

There is no good reason to think that there is a necessary conflict between science and the existence of God, but is there still some way in which science might support atheism? One approach is to say that while science does not disprove God’s existence, it can still undermine it via ‘explaining away’. This strategy appeals to Ockham’s razor to argue that there is no need for two explanations (God and science) to account for the world around us when one (science) will do.

Ockham’s razor can be a very useful tool, but in the wrong hands it can also be very dangerous. The challenge is to determine how to use it appropriately. Sometimes it is quite right to adopt only one of two explanations, but in other cases it is entirely reasonable to accept both explanations. The lecture will explore how to determine whether two explanations are in competition and then look at this in context of God and science.

One factor that needs to be taken into account is the relationship between scientific and theistic viewpoints. Various models of this relationship have been proposed and some of them will be considered in the lecture. On the one hand, some of these models avoid any kind of conflict between science and theism in principle, but arguably they come at a high price for theists since they are in danger of making theism irrelevant to the evidence of the natural world. On the other hand, atheists who attempt to use science to explain away belief in God often assume a model that comes close to presupposing conflict. A better approach avoids both extremes and offers plenty of resources to theists for responding to objections to belief in God based on science. In fact, it shows how scientific and theistic explanations can be mutually enhancing rather than conflicting.

These issues will also be applied to some recent attempts – both popular and academic – to use science to undermine belief in God.

This lecture is based on work carried out at Ulster University on a project ‘Explaining and Explaining Away’ funded by the John Templeton Foundation.




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