Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh
personal blog: Arts and Sciences
A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, (Baker Books, 2006).
Natural Philosophy: A Survey of Physics and Western Thought (Access Research Network, 2003).
“Why did science arise in the Christian world?“ (Two talks at MIT, March 11, 2014)
“Uses and abuses of quantum mechanics“ (Talk at the CSS annual meeting, May 2013)
Alfred I. Tauber, Science and the Quest for Meaning. (Baylor University Press, 2009). Published in Journal of the History of Medicine 66, 418 (2011).
“Why Christians should not use the Kalaam argument”
Many Christian apologists use this argument for the existence of God. I argue that it is fallacious, and give a replacement argument that could be fleshed out to be much more productive.
“Thinking about the problem of evil”
Many people struggle with how God could allow evil, both evil in nature and evil moral beings. In this article I look at where we may say there is mystery, and where we may say the Bible and logic are clear.
“Suboptimality and complexity in evolution”
Published in Complexity journal. A numerical study of the balance of pressures created by allowing novelty, which in the short term cost energy, but in the long term can lead to new function.
“Systems biology as a research program for intelligent design”
Published in Bio-complexity journal. I argue that the dominant new paradigm in systems biology is explicitly a design paradigm.
Several authors have addressed the dates of Adam and Eve recently. I lay out all the options I can think of for the dating of Adam and Eve, giving pros and cons for each, and my conclusion of the most viable scenario.
“Defining Undesign in a Designed Universe”
The argument from design, recast today in the Intelligent Design movement, relies critically on the contrast of designed things with undesigned things. This poses a problem for Christians, however, because they arm that God designed the whole universe. How then can we call anything undesigned? I argue that this problem is equivalent to the problem of free will, or the problem of moral evil, and as such can be addressed by the same philosophical frameworks developed in the past for addressing those issues, in particular the notions of different levels of description and Augustine’s different levels of giftedness. Published in the Journal of the ASA 60, 225 (June 2008).
“Why Did God Create Dangerous Animals?”
Nature is filled with many examples of violent and ferocious creatures. Many Christians cannot imagine that God would create such things in an unspoiled, “very good” world. To explain their existence, some Christians hold to a view that demons created such things, while other Christians hold to a view that all such things were created as a response to human sin. The latter view typically entails belief in a recent creation. I argue that violent and dangerous creatures are affirmed as good creations of God in the Bible, and discuss the biblical rationale for their creation. Published in the Journal of the ASA 56, 117 (June 2004).
“In Favor of God-of-the-Gaps Reasoning”
I argue that rejection of “God of the gaps” argumentation deviates from the mode of normal scientific discourse, it assumes a view of history which is incorrect, and it tacitly implies a naive optimism about the abilities of science. I encourage apologists to point out gaps of explanation in atheistic theories whereever they see them, and expect atheists to return the favor. Published in the Journal of the ASA 53, 152 (September 2001).
Where do we start when arguing for the existence of God? Is there a proper order of topics in the discussion? This paper draws together many of the varied threads of evidential apologetics into a single argument as a debate between an atheist and a Christian. I argue that our belief in God starts with the direct perception of his being, and that further evidences come into play primarily as responses to atheist attacks on the validity of that sense of God’s existence. This argument ends up in several issues of quantum mechanics and cosmology presently at the forefront of scientific research. Published in the Journal of the ASA 50, 108 (June 1998).
“The Problem of the Absolute in Evidential Apologetics”
Great scientfic advances have taken place on the basis of the scientific method, while many have found faith and comfort via the evidential apologetic of scholars like Josh McDowell and Hugh Ross. Both the scientific method and evidentialism rest on inductive epistemology. Yet in modern philosophy departments both the scientific method and evidentialism are dead, because inductive epistemology is dead, and modern scholars who follow them are considered naive. Although induction has been defended in this century by scholars like Wittgenstein and Reichenbach, it is perceived to have failed because of the problem of the absolute; in other words, it seems to provide no basis for absolute certainty. I propose dropping the search for “absolute certainty” altogether, since it is meaningless, and argue, partly from modern language theory, that inductive epistemology is self-consistent and that only inductive epistemology provides the basis for science and universal ethics in the Christian context. Those who want a “mathematical” certainty in epistemology, following Descartes and Kant, have in fact opened the door to the widespread relativism in this century regarding both religion and scientific matters. Published in the Journal of the ASA 47, 3 (March 1995).
“Toward a Unified View of Science and Theology”
Current Christian thinking on the philosophy of science and theology largely embraces a “two-worlds” view of science and theology, that scientic claims and theological/biblical claims cannot contradict each other because they address two completely different aspects of reality. I dispute this view, and argue that faith in God and the propositions of the Bible are of the same nature as faith in the order of the universe and the results of scientic experiments. Although keeping certain propositions in the religious sphere may protect them from attack, ultimately this kind of separation cuts Christians off from meaningful dialogue with the world. In keeping with this view of the unity of knowledge, I propose several areas in which theology and modern science intersect in their studies. Published in the Journal of the ASA 43, 166 (September 1991)