We will be meeting on the campus of Biola University, January 26-27, on the topic of “Natural Evil.” Many evolutionists point to “bad design” in nature, or predators, etc., as evidence of evolution by undirected processes. Many Christians also accept that these things are “bad,” and argue that they are a result of the Curse when humanity fell into sin. For others, natural evil is a major theological problem. Registration for this meeting is now closed.
Friday night, January 26, Mayer Auditorium, Marshburn Hall
8:00 PM, A Friendly Debate: “Resolved: Carnivorous animals are the result of the sin of mankind.”
Pro: Dr. Mike Keas, Adjunct Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, Biola University
Anti: Dr. David Snoke, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh
Moderated by Dr. John Bloom, Chair, Chemistry, Physics and Engineering Department, and Academic Director, Science and Religion Program, Biola University
Saturday afternoon, January 27, Moats Lecture Hall, Crowell School of Business
1:00 PM, “Non-Empirical Influences on Evolutionary Theory and the Principle of Plenitude”
Dr. Cornelius Hunter, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Science and Religion, Biola University, and Adjunct Professor, William Jessup University
In recent decades historians have increasingly recognized religious influences on the development of scientific theories, including evolutionary theory in particular. Here I argue for a strong view of such religious influences. In addition to its development, religion has influenced the evaluation of evolutionary theory, leading to the high confidence that Darwin and later evolutionists have in the theory. These influences are sometimes nuanced and I will review one such example from the principle of plenitude.
2:00 PM, “The Human Genome: ENCODED by Design”
Dr. Fazale Rana, Vice President of Research and Apologetics, Reasons to Believe
Many people think that the most compelling evidence for human evolution is the shared junk DNA sequences found in corresponding regions of the genomes of humans and the Great Apes. Why would a Creator introduce identical nonfunctional DNA sequences in these genomes? On the other hand, if these genomes represent the outworking of an evolutionary history, then the shared features evince common descent. But what if these junk DNA sequences are actually functional? If so, they could be understood as evidence for common design.
Remarkably over the course of the last decade, biologists have come to learn that virtually every class of junk DNA has function, culminating with the publication of the Phase 2 results of the ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) project in 2011. These results indicated that minimally 80 percent of the human genome consists of functional elements. Subsequent work indicates that this percentage will only increase. The ENCODE project has radically changed the way we view the human genome. Instead of representing a collage of evolutionary vestiges, it appears to be an elegantly designed system.
3:00 PM “The Tragic History of Mutations as the source of Genetic Variety”
Dr. Jerry Bergman, Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Toledo Medical College, and Instructor, Northwest State College
The excitement in the scientific community his discovery produced was so great that the Nobel Prize in Physiology was awarded to Muller in 1946 “for the discovery of the production of mutations by means of X-ray irradiation.” In his Nobel lecture Muller wrote “Not only is this accumulation of many rare, mainly tiny changes the chief means of artificial animal and plant improvement, but it is, even more, the way in which natural evolution has occurred, under the guidance of natural selection. Thus the Darwinian theory becomes implemented, and freed from the accretions of directed variation and of Lamarckism that once encumbered it.” I will review the efforts to implement this important discovery to speed up evolution, and the results of attempts to do so.
4:00 PM “Evil or Potential for Greater Discovery?”
Dr. Anjeannette Roberts, Research Scholar, Reasons to Believe
What if a lack of current knowledge causes us to brand naturally occurring things—e.g. earthquakes, bacteria, and viruses—as evil or bad? What if the ultimate function or purpose of a system is very good but obscured by ignorance beneath a veneer of “bad”? Could such things as earthquakes, bacteria, and viruses all be more good than bad?
A robust Christian theology lies at the foundation of understanding that creation was designed as good and providentially supplied for our discovery, delight, and careful management. This idea is at the heart of the biblical story—God delights in our discoveries, especially when they point to the grandeur of the Creator. God reveals himself in nature, the scriptures, and in the incarnation because he wants to be known. God is also Redeemer, turning that which is meant for evil to good.
The delight of an infinite Creator who creates so we can eternally discover more, and come to fuller knowledge, but always have still more to discover and delight in, and the provision and power of the God who redeems so we might thrive in righteous, redemptive relationships with creation and each other: this is the Christian story. This beautiful, good, true, hope-filled, and purposeful story.
Mike Keas is Adjunct Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science at Biola University. He has contributed articles to numerous journals and anthologies, including “Myth #3: That the Copernican Revolution Demoted the Status of Earth,” in Newton’s Apple and Other Myths About Science (Harvard University Press, 2015), and “Systematizing the Theoretical Virtues” in the top-tier philosophy journal Synthese: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11229-017-1355-6 (this open access essay analyzes and classifies twelve major traits of good theories). Discovery Institute awarded Mike a 2017-2018 fellowship to complete his book Unbelievable: Myths about the History and Future of Science, Religion and Extraterrestrial Intelligence. This book explores seven false stories about how Christianity has supposedly opposed science, narratives that have made their way into scientific and popular culture, including college textbooks.
David Snoke is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh, Fellow of the American Physical Society, and President of the Christian Scientific Society. He has published over 140 journal articles and 5 books on the physics of semiconductor optics and quantum mechanics. In addition, he has published several articles on the intersection of science and Christianity, including “Why Did God Create Dangerous Animals?,” available at the Christian Scientific Society website, and the book, A Biblical Case for an Old Earth (Baker Books, 2006), which addresses the question of natural evil and whether animals died before Adam and Eve lived.
Cornelius G. Hunter is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he earned a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Computational Biology. He is Adjunct Professor at Biola University and William Jessup University, and is author of the award-winning Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil. Hunter’s other books include Darwin’s Proof, and Science’s Blind Spot. Dr. Hunter’s interest in the theory of evolution involves the historical and theological, as well as scientific, aspects of the theory. His website is http://www.darwins-god.
Biochemist Fazale “Fuz” Rana is vice president of research and apologetics at Reasons to Believe. Fuz earned a BS in chemistry at West Virginia State University and a PhD in chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry at Ohio University. He pursued postdoctoral studies in the biophysics of cell membranes at the Universities of Virginia and Georgia, has coauthored numerous papers for peer-reviewed journals, and holds two patents. Fuz converted to Christianity during graduate school. Though he initially embraced the evolutionary paradigm, Fuz eventually drew the conclusion that only a Creator’s involvement could explain the elegance of biochemical systems. Today, Fuz writes and speaks extensively about evidence for creation emerging from biochemistry, genetics, human origins, and synthetic biology. He is the author of multiple books, including Creating Life in the Lab and The Cell’s Design.
Jerry Bergman is recently retired from teaching biology, biochemistry, and anatomy for 31 years at Northwest State College in Archbold, Ohio, and an adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Toledo Medical College. He has 9 degrees, including a Doctorate from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. His over 1,000 publications are in both scholarly and popular science journals. Dr. Bergman’s work has been translated into 13 languages including French, German, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Polish, Czech, Chinese, and Swedish.His books and, or books that include chapters that he authored, are in over 1,500 college libraries in 26 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 38 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print.
Following an extensive career in research science and teaching, molecular biologist Anjeanette “AJ” Roberts joined Reasons to Believe (RTB) as a visiting scholar in 2015 and, in 2016, became a permanent member of RTB’s scholar team. As an RTB research scholar, AJ puts her passion for truth to work engaging in science-faith topics such as evolution and design, harmonizing science and Christianity, and a theological perspective on viruses. She holds a BS in chemistry at the University of Tulsa, a PhD in molecular and cell biology from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MA in Christian apologetics from Biola University. AJ blogs at Theorems and Theology.