2015 Westminster Conference on Science and Faith

Westminster Theological Seminary hosted their 6th annual conference on science and faith this past weekend, and I wanted to provide a brief review some of the sessions. Overall I was very pleased. Although I’m a young earth creationist, and the presenters were all Intelligent Design (ID) advocates, I still enjoyed my time and learned enough to satisfy me. I also found the speakers to be respectful of those who hold other views outside the ID camp.

Dr. Vern Poythress kicked things off with a session titled, The Wonders of Creation and its Creator. Poythress holds a PhD from Harvard and has published numerous books, including Redeeming Science.

Poythress began by examining the different ways we look at the universe and interpret science. Some scientists bring a materialistic philosophy to the table, and this demands that everything that exists is just matter and motion. There’s also scientism, defined only by what science can find. Materialism and scientism both contain limitations that can’t account for anything beyond the material realm. If God really does exist, then those advocates will be at a loss to accurately explain the universe. They inevitably will fail to correctly interpret the evidence. Neither view considers whether there is a God who created man in such a way that he could understand the world.

Then there’s Christianity, theism and agnosticism, all of which maintain their own assumptions. Christianity believes in Jesus Christ and the God of the Bible. Theism allows for a creator, but agnosticism doesn’t know if there is a God or not.

According to Poythress, there’s evidence for design everywhere, and it’s difficult for atheist to escape. To support his premise he briefly discussed the Big Bang, the Fine-tuning argument, the origin of life issue, the Cambrian Explosion, and hard to change protein function.

I personally disagree with the Big Bang cosmology, but I understand why ID advocates support it; it fulfills a prediction of creation- namely that there was a beginning to the universe. The Fine-tuning argument fulfills another prediction- that man and the earth were designed with purpose and are special. The secular theory for the origin of life, however, has been a complete failure; life is so complex and rich with information that atheists have no idea how it could have happened spontaneously. The Cambrian Explosion is another mystery for secular scientists because all the major organisms appeared abruptly in the fossil record. And lastly he contends that the evidence suggests that it’s impossible for proteins- which are large biological molecules that perform many functions- to change their function, which would be required of evolution.

Poythress explains that a correct understanding of the world requires the right commitments and basic assumptions, and belief in the God who created and designed everything fulfills that. It explains why there is something rather than nothing, and explains why the universe operates according to certain laws.

I’ll end this review here, and then post a review of Dr. Michael Denton’s session next, which will examine biological evidence for a creator.

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