The faith and science talk for today, presented by Nelson Hoffman, deals with the idea of evolution, the meaning of the term, and various ways that Christians look at evolution (Evidence for or against evolution will be discussed by a future speaker).
The term evolution has several meanings: adaptation or microevolution, where traits of organisms go through a succession of relatively small genetic variations that often cause the formation of new subspecies; the observed changes in physical anatomy preserved by the fossil record; the general concept that all past and present organisms descend genealogically from a common ancestor; the scientific theory of evolution originally defined by Charles Darwin, proposing that microevolution over long period of time produced the changes seen in the fossil record; and finally, evolutionism, which extends the theory of evolution to argue that life is godless, meaningless, and without purpose.
Christians respond to these ideas in several ways, from rejecting almost all evidence for evolution to accepting that evolution explains the origin of species but not the origin of life to accepting evolution as a scientific method and the means by which God brought life into being.
Each of these viewpoints has its own theological and philosophical risks to consider. Join us to discuss how evolution and religion interact and how accepting one influences your view of the other.
The Los Alamos Faith and Science Forum summer series began June 3 and continues every Wednesday through the end of July at Kelly Hall at Trinity on the Hill. Dinner will be provided at 6 p.m., with a presentation at 6:30 p.m. and discussion at 7 p.m., ending around 8 p.m.
Discussion topics follow the book Origins by Deborah and Loren Haarsma, who will visit the first week of August and give presentations Aug. 4-6.
It is not necessary to have read the book to come to the presentations. All are welcome.
More information can be found here.
About our presenter:
Nelson Hoffman’s parents were missionaries in India, so he was raised in a religious home, but during the 1970s (his twenties) he drifted spiritually far away from his upbringing, dabbling in eastern religions and some unwholesome practices characteristic of the times.
These distractions didn’t stop him from earning a bachelor’s degree in physics from Rice and a doctorate in astrophysics from the University of Wisconsin, however, or from finding a job at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he continues to be employed as a physicist working on plasma physics, especially ion kinetics and high-energy-density plasmas.
Over time, certain inner promptings, the raising of his children, and various authors led him back to his Christian roots. For several years, he has been intrigued by the features of the universe referred to as “cosmological fine tuning,” the origin of life, and the origin of humanity, and their plausible links to the creative acts of the God of the Bible.
During this time, he has found an important resource in the ministry Reasons To Believe (www.reasons.org).
Recently, he has been studying the history of science, finding in the origin of modern science (that is, empirical mathematical science) a crucial role for Judaeo-Christian theology, together with Greek philosophy and Roman law, as described in the writings of Toby Huff (Chancellor Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth), Lawrence Principe (Drew Professor of the Humanities, Johns Hopkins University) and their predecessors.
In the view of these scholars, one can almost say that without Christianity, modern science would not exist. Hoffman thinks this message can help alleviate some ungrounded fears that science and religion (Christianity, anyway) must be constantly in conflict.