Can a scientist believe in God?

Reverend Jonathan Whereat – Chaplain The Southport School

Dr Chris Mulherin visit to The Southport School Gold Coast Qld 3rd – 6th November 2019

Dr Chris was the guest speaker at the Annual Chaplain’s Dinner at which twenty of the staff of TSS, five of whom were from the science department, shared a meal and heard Dr Chris talked about his work with ISCAST and his doctoral thesis. The discussion that followed soon turned to the topic of global warming and the implications.

During the rest of the week Dr Chris spoke to all 4 Chapel services which covers all the boys in the senior school. He raised the question “Can a scientist believe in God?” Dr Chris then introduced the boys to four globally significant scientists who are all Christians. He showed a number of photos from the Hubble Space Telescope and introduced the history of Christianity and science through some of the giants of the science revolution. The main message being that they all began with a conviction that God had two books; the Bible and the book of nature which also reveals God based on Psalm 19 “The Heavens declare the glory of God.”

Did You Know That Sir Isaac Newton wrote more Theology than Science!!

He then asked us to consider questions that science is not able to answer, for example Science can enable us to make an atomic weapon but is not able to answer the question should we use it? That question belongs in a different realm.

Dr Chris then left us with two simple examples that remind us that we can have two answers to a single question. One scientific answer and one motivational cause answer. Why is the the water boiling? Has a scientific Physics answer- heat leads to increased speed of the molecules of water and the release of steam. The non-scientific answer is that the water is boiling so I can make a hot cup of tea!!! Both answers are right but answer different questions. One is about the mechanics of water boiling the other is about the motivation or reason to boil the water. The same can be done with “the Kiss” shared between to people. We can describe the muscular actions and the exchange of both CO2 and microbes in great detail but the reason for the kiss has a very different answer. Both are correct and do not discount each other but nor do they satisfy each other’s question.

On Tuesday Dr Chris spoke to all yr 11 (2020) students about the topics of Artificial Intelligence AI, Machine Learning ML, Transhumanism and surveillance and the implications for the next 20-30 years. This discussion was continued by some students in smaller groups in other classes.

Overall I am convinced that most students will have gained significantly from hearing and considering these questions. As expected there are a number of boys who were not ready to contemplate these ideas. There were a few boys who wanted to argue the premise he presented.

I hope that we can continue to encourage the staff and students of TSS to grapple with both the science and ethics of the many serious questions facing humanity applying their Christian /religious worldview or a non-religious worldview.


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