The Malibu Antidote

  How often has someone told you science has poked holes in the Bible's credibility? Or science has proven God doesn't exist? How do you answer a skeptical friend who's been conned by these clichés? Troubling, isn't it? I have a perfect antidote for you: a trip to Malibu this summer! Malibu is the home of Pepperdine University, where from August 2-5 the American Scientific Affiliation, or ASA, will host a conference that will present a roster of outstanding scientists -- including a Nobel laureate. And all of them are outspoken Christians! At the conference, titled "Christian Pioneers in Science," presenters will explore the scientific and biblical beliefs of notables, including Blaise Pascal, James Clerk Maxwell -- and a British quantum chemist named Charles Coulson, who spells his name differently and is no relation. Nobel laureate and physicist Dr. Charles Townes, the man who invented the maser and co-invented the laser, will give the opening keynote address. In contrast to the popular phrase "the conflict between science and religion," Dr. Townes plans to speak on, "The Convergence of Science and Religion." Expect to hear him debunk the popular misconception that science is totally objective, and religion is totally subjective. "[F]aith," he has written, "is usually taken as a characteristic of religion, . . . But faith is essential to science too, . . . Faith is necessary for the scientist to even get started, and deep faith necessary for him to carry out his tougher tasks." Faith is needed, says Dr. Townes, because a scientist "must be personally committed to the belief that there is order in the universe and that the human mind . . . has a good chance of understanding this order . . . [This faith] has made possible our scientific progress." Concepts like that could add zest to your next discussion with your agnostic friends. Elsewhere Dr. Townes writes, "Nature is . . . so obviously God-made." Study more of what this Nobel physicist says about God, and you'll be better equipped to defend your faith against the skeptics and critics. Another favorite myth that the ASA conference will address is the Galileo affair -- allegedly Exhibit A in the folkloric myth that religious beliefs retard scientific discovery. Dr. Owen Gingerich, senior astronomer emeritus at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, has assembled evidence showing clearly that many secular scientists of the day resisted Galileo and that the church outside Italy -- where Galileo had made many enemies -- offered no opposition at all to his theories. The idea that it was the Church that was anti-science can be debunked. If you're a scientist or have an interest in issues of science, visit the American Scientific Affiliation website, The site contains a wealth of information on science and the Christian faith. You can also find more information about the August annual meeting where Dr. Townes, Dr. Gingerich, and others will be speaking. Mention on your registration that you're replying as a result of this BreakPoint broadcast, and you'll qualify for the "early registration discount." Whether you surf this website or go to the conference next to the Malibu surf, you'll learn what I've been saying for years: There are solid Christian rebuttals to those agnostic clichés. For further information: Learn about the American Scientific Affiliation here. Registration information for the August 2-5, 2002, conference is located here (requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader) You may also call 978-356-5656, or fax 978-356-4375; e-mail; or mail: P.O. Box 668, Ipswich, MA 01938-0668. Charles H. Townes, Making Waves (Woodbury, NY: AIP Press, American Institute of Physics, 1997). See especially the last five chapters-the section entitled "Spiritual Views from a Scientific Base."
  1. C. Barrett and David Fisher, Scientists Who Believe: 21 Tell Their Own Stories (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984).
Harry Kreisler, "Adventures of a Scientist," video interview with Dr. Charles H. Townes, Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley, 15 February 2000. Dan Falk, "Harvard Professor Owen Gingerich Sees Religious Roots of Astronomy,", 22 September 2000. Learn more about Blaise Pascal and James Clerk Maxwell.


Chuck Colson


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