Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Hugh Ross debates Lewis Wolpert on scientific evidence for a Creator

From the 2012 Unbelievable UK conference, Peter Byrom (BirdieUpon) reports on a great debate on science and Christianity.

Excerpt:

I had the great pleasure yesterday of attending the debate “Does the universe show evidence for a creator?” at Imperial College, London. Arguing in the affirmative was astrophysicist Hugh Ross of Reasons To Believe,  a science-faith think tank from the USA; arguing the negative was Lewis Wolpert, Emeritus Professor of biology and British Humanist.

[...]But, onto the debate itself! A good turn-out. The lecture theatre was packed. It was hosted by Imperial College’s Christian Union, but a decent number of atheists and sceptics showed up too – which is quite something given that AC Grayling was giving a lecture in the next room (he passed by me earlier as I was editing my latest Dawkins-critical video on my laptop… I don’t think he noticed)!

This is where it gets interesting. Hugh Ross went first, and outlined for 20 minutes his Creation Model, arguing that the Bible – and only the Bible – contains consistent, scientifically accurate predictions about the cosmos, the empirical data for which is only being discovered recently in the modern age. His case is essentially that the more we discover about the universe, the more the evidence for design and a transcendent creator piles up and confirms what the Bible has been telling us for the past thousands of years. Of particular note were passages from Jeremiah and Romans, which Hugh claims tell us about the expansion of the universe and the law of entropy. Alongside we have the opening of the Bible, that in the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth – the Big Bang is this beginning. When this was discovered, a great many scientists were reluctant to accept it, fearing that an absolute beginning of space and time gave too much leverage to those who believe in theistic creation.

It was fascinating also to hear Hugh cite an article written by atheist physicists called “Disturbing Implications of the Cosmological Constant”. In this article, its atheist authors were forced to concede that this particular cosmological constant left them no choice but to invoke a transcendent causal agent. Their solution? To “do a Daniel Dennett”: conclude that this cosmological constant must, therefore, surely be false (!)

Go read the whole thing at Apologetics UK blog! It’s great when we have smart guys to give us a ringside report.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

William Dembski debates Lewis Wolpert about intelligent design

It’s the latest debate from Unbelievable, courtesy of Justin Brierley!

The MP3 file is here.

Details:

William (Bill) Dembski is an American mathematician, theologian and professor of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, TX. He debates the issue of ID with atheist Lewis Wolpert, Emeritus Professor of Biology at University College London.

For Bill Dembski see http://www.designinference.com/ or his blog http://www.uncommondescent.com/

For Lewis Wolpert’s Wikipedia profile see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Wolpert

Intro:

  • Bill Dembski’s religious background (Catholic-raised atheist/agnostic, later Protestant)
  • Dembski’s view of the interface between science and religion
  • Lewis Wolpert’s religious background (Jewish-raised atheist)
  • Wolpert’s view of whether God exists

First half:

  • Dembski explains the mathematical foundations for detecting design
  • Wolpert asks whether designs can emerge without intelligence
  • Dembski asks whether anything in biology could be like SETI signals
  • Wolpert says that it is impossible to recognize design in biology
  • Dembski asks whether the Darwinian hypothesis is falsifiable
  • Wolpert says that it is never warranted to rule out chance as an explanation
  • Dembski says that you can set limits on what chance can do within a certain time
  • Wolpert says that chance can do anything regardless of time, etc.
  • Dembski says, what about the work of Doug Axe published in the peer-reviewed JMB?
  • Wolpert says those calculations must be wrong!
  • Dembski says then you’re just a dogmatic reductionist
  • Wolpert agrees that he is a dogmatic reductionist

Second half:

  • Dembski explains why intelligent is not repackaged creationism
  • Dembski explains why intelligent design isn’t an argument from ignorance
  • Dembski talks about whether evolutionary mechanisms can create more information
  • Wolpert asks whether chemistry requires intelligent design too
  • Dembski says that there is a fine-tuning argument for cosmological constants too
  • Wolpert agrees that the origin of life is unexplained naturalistically
  • Wolpert asks if everything after the origin of life is explained
  • Dembski says that there are still problems like the Cambrian explosion
  • Wolpert asks Dembski if anything could falsify intelligent design
  • Dembski gives an example of something that could falsify intelligent design
  • Dembski asks whether naturalistic explanations of life are falsifiable
  • Wolpert asks whether intelligent design affects the way that people do science
  • Dembski asks whether it is possible that the resources of naturalism are adequate to explain life
  • Wolpert says that you can’t explain anything in nature as the result of intelligence
  • Dembski says that it happens all the time in other sciences like engineering
  • Wolpert says that he doesn’t want a Designer
  • Dembski says we should just follow the evidence and who cares what people on either side want

And then there are closing speeches.

I am not sure if I had anything to do with this, but I did send Justin Bill’s e-mail address recently. I’m pretty happy that Justin managed to get Bill and Lewis to debate on this topic. Justin says that Bill will be back next week! He’ll be discussing his new book “The End of Christianity” which is about the problem of evil.

Did you miss Lewis Wolpert’s last debate with the professor of nanotechnology?

UPDATE: Justin says that it was indeed my e-mail that helped him to contact Bill, and what’s more we should expect a show that features Stephen C. Meyer soon, too!

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Biology and physics professors debate whether Christianity is true

The new Unbelievable debate is up, and this time Justin found a fine Christian. A professor of nanotechnology who has enormous intellectual firepower and an incredible scientific background. The atheist is Lewis Wolpert, a very high-profile atheistic cell biologist in the UK, who debated William Lane Craig a while back.

The speakers:

Atheist scientist Lewis Wolpert debates believing scientist Russell Cowburn. Professor Lewis Wolpert is Emeritus Professor of Biology at University College London. Professor Russell Cowburn is Chair of Nanotechnology at Imperial College.

Cowburn is formerly of Cambridge University. Although he does concede evolution in the debate, yuck! That part where he concedes evolution is a little annoying. Still, he is a fine speaker, he radiates competence and confidence, and does a great job of explaining Christianity. I wish I could send him a Signature in the Cell. We have so much more evidence for intelligent design today, that there is no reason to make those concessions!

The MP3 file is here.

One funny thing occurs when Lewis Wolpert says that he gave up belief in God (as a Jew) when God wouldn’t help him to find his cricket bat. He also says that he has never heard of any evidence for God’s existence, which is odd since he debated Bill Craig.

If you listen to the whole thing, Justin also says that Wolpert will be back to debate William Dembski in January 2010 as part of a series on intelligent design. (Expelled is going to be released in the UK in 2010)

Wolpert’s case:

  • Religious belief exists because it provides an evolutionary advantage
  • There are so many different religions so Christianity cannot be correct
  • There haven’t been enough recent miracles

Cowburn’s case:

  • The kalam cosmological argument
  • The fine-tuning argument
  • The historicity of the resurrection

The full debate is available here at the web site of the church which hosted the debate. I note that it’s a independent evangelical Baptist church and I’m an independent evangelical Baptist, so yay! Just take a look at this church’s web page – it’s filled with debates! Now this is the church I would attend if I lived in London.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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