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Scientists

2020 European Scientists Network

The European Science Network is committed to two main purposes: (1) Increase the praise of God the Creator-Saviour through what humans study and know in His creation (Col 1:16) and (2) Put scientific findings in the context of His Word so that what we know about His creation will not obfuscate our knowledge of Himself (2 Cor 10:5).

In order to achieve its purposes, the European Science Network is geared to serve two kinds of audiences: (1) Scientists and Christians interested in science will obtain the knowledge, language, and courage to do science and speak about science within the framework of a Bible-informed Christian understanding of the cosmos. (2) Christians of all backgrounds will be helped to understand and interact with scientific findings and claims in a way that is truly apologetic, integrating scientific facts into the Christian worldview in an affirmative, active way rather than only defensively and reactively. At the same time, the demarcation lines will be demonstrated between scientific facts and their interpretation by naturalistic vs. Christian worldviews. We do not shy away from sensitive subjects like the evolution debate and ethical implications, engaging in constructive, respectful discussions.

Participants are strongly encouraged to view the talk "Seven Arguments from Science for the Existence of God", which will be released on www.foclonline.org/ in March, and to read the book “God’s Undertaker – Has Science Buried God?” by Prof. John Lennox. These give an introduction to some basic convictions the Scientists Network has, which cannot be presented every year.

 

NETWORK LEADERS

Alexander Fink is Director of the Institute for Faith and Science (Institut für Glaube und Wissenschaft) in Marburg, Germany (www.iguw.de). He studied physics at the universities of Bayreuth and St. Andrews (UK) and received his PhD at the Institute for Biophysics at the University of Regensburg. After having worked as an industrial product manager, he became director of SMD graduates' ministry (Akademiker-SMD, the German branch of IFES) until 2014. His passion is the dialog of science, faith, and worldviews. Hence he founded the Kepler-Forum in Regensburg, coorganising the annual Regensburger Symposium (www.regensburger-symposium.de) at the University of Regensburg. Since 2008 he has been a member of the ELF Steering Committee and has co-led the Scientists Network. Together with his wife, Alexander enjoys raising his two children.

 

Peter Imming received degrees in pharmacy and chemistry and a PhD and venia legendi in pharmaceutical chemistry from a German university. He has been involved in drug chemistry teaching and research in Germany, the UK, China, and other countries. Currently, he is head of a pharmaceutical/medicinal chemistry department of a German university. His research focuses on the design and synthesis of new drug substances and on molecular mechanisms of drug action. He has a strong interest in the relation of science and Christian faith, frequently lecturing on related topics by invitation of e.g. universities, churches, and schools.

 


NETWORK SPEAKERS
 

Zachary Ardern is a postdoctoral researcher and junior group leader in bacterial evolutionary genomics based in Munich, where he is a member of an international church. He has a background in biology and philosophy. Zachary studied for his PhD in New Zealand and completed his thesis on the theory and analysis of experimental evolution in 2016. In his spare time he is active in organising and giving apologetics talks in various settings, from churches and IFES student events to skeptics’ groups.

 

 

Richard Buggs is Professor of Evolutionary Genomics at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) and a Senior Research Leader at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.  His research on genetics has been published in journals including NatureCurrent Biology and Evolution. Much of his work takes methods developed for the analysis of the human genome and applies them to the genomes of trees. From 2013-2016 he led a twelve-week teaching module Human Genetics and Genomics for final year Biomedicine undergraduates at QMUL. He holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford and received his undergraduate education at the University of Cambridge, where he was elected Bateman Scholar at Trinity Hall and gained a first class Bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences.

 


Kirk Durston, who previously worked as an engineer overseeing the build and test of experimental aircraft engines for Pratt & Whitney, left engineering to work with Power to Change at universities across Canada. He has spent 35 years with that ministry, thinking, writing, and speaking about the interaction of science, theology, and philosophy within the context of authentic Christianity. He holds bachelor’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering, a master’s degree in philosophy, and a doctorate in biophysics, and has published papers in journals of science as well as philosophy. He and his wife Patti have six children and five grandchildren. He enjoys nature photography, wilderness canoeing and camping, fly fishing, reading, and family and friends. More information can be found at www.kirkdurston.com.

 


Fraser Fleming is Professor and Head of the Chemistry Department at Drexel University. He earned his BS (Hons.) at Massey University, New Zealand, and a PhD under the direction of Edward Piers at the University of British Columbia, Canada. After postdoctoral research with James D. White at Oregon State University, he joined the faculty at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, in 1992. In 2013 he took a temporary position as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation working in the Synthesis Program and the Catalysis Program. His research interests lie in stereochemistry and organometallics, particularly as applied to the reactions of nitriles and isonitriles. He is a member of the American Scientific Affiliation and a founding member of the Christian Academic Fellowship (CAFÉ) at Duquesne University and a second CAFÉ at Drexel University. He has a long-standing interest in science and religion with the publication of his book The Truth About Science and Religion in 2016.

 


Boris Schmidtgall received his degree in chemistry and a PhD from the University of Göttingen, Germany. Subsequently, he spent three years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Science and Macromolecular Design in Strasbourg, performing fundamental research on the chemistry of proteins. Currently, he works as a scientist for the association “Wort und Wissen” in Germany, publishing articles and giving talks on topics from the field of evolution and creation research. His main fields of interest are origin of life models and biomolecular chemistry. He is married and has three children.

 

 

NETWORK PROGRAMME

Day 1

Genetic Bottlenecks and Consistency with an Original Adam and Eve
Richard Buggs

Has modern genetics disproven the idea of Adam and Eve? Could two individuals carry within them enough genetic variation to be the sole ancestors of today’s diverse human population? Theoretical and empirical studies of genetic bottlenecks show that large diverse populations can be descended from a single couple. Commonly-used methods of reconstructing past human population sizes would not point to a single couple bottleneck even if it were true. There are a range of historical scenarios by which a single couple could be the sole progenitors of present day human genetic diversity.

 

Evolution by Design? Exploring an Evolution-Compatible Natural Theology
Zachary Ardern

The multifaceted evidence for common descent, a single tapestry of life, has convinced most biologists since Darwin. I believe that this evidence has become stronger in the genomics era. In this talk I explore what can be said about design arguments in light of the genomic evidence and purported counter-examples, and propose some ways forward for Christian scientists and apologists. In particular, I suggest a framework of ‘fine-tuning’ as helpful for both considering evolutionary theory from within a Christian worldview and introducing people to the coherence of this worldview.


Day 2

Evaluating Models of the Origin of Life
Boris Schmidtgall

Currently, most scientists deny the reality of life’s creation as revealed in the Bible. Instead it is proposed that the first forms of life originated by means of unguided chemical processes. However, in view of the breathtaking intricacy and sophistication of even the mostly primitive organisms, no one has a clue how exactly the first organisms might have been formed. From the mid of the 20th century until now several scientists have conducted experiments to underpin models that have been put forth to explain the miracle of the origin of life. In spite of repeated assertions to have come close to the solution, the actual data reveal a different picture. Some of the most important models of the origin of life and related experiments will be analyzed with respect to their plausibility.

 

Divine Creation: Information, Death and Suffering, and the Origin of Life
Fraser Fleming

Life on earth started remarkably quickly, so quickly as to raise the question of whether the origin of life was preprogrammed. Several uncanny events in the earth's development raise questions of divine ordering, but never so much as to provide direct evidence for God's hand in creation. Where did this information come from, what significant events affected the development of life, how did life begin, and what are the current limits of naturalistic processes? If the universe is an open system with free will then are death and suffering compatible with divinely guidance, and if so where is God in the process? The presentation will provide background for some of these questions interspersed with time for small-group breakout discussions.


Day 3

How Confident Can We Be That Genetic Information Required an Intelligent Programmer
Kirk Durston

Is there sufficient data to support an intelligent programmer or is it just wishful thinking? This talk will present the latest evidence that genetic information requires statistically significant levels of functional information, which is the fingerprint of intelligent minds. We will discuss supporting results recently published and respond to the two most common objections: a) the data we currently have is insufficient and, b) natural selection will result in data that is highly selected and not representative of the full range of natural possibilities. Can the data we currently have stand up to these objections and lead us to any reasonable conclusions?

 

Christianity and Scholarship
Fraser Fleming

Joint Session with the Academic Network

We usually think of Jesus as a great teacher, but very seldom do we think of Jesus as being a brilliant person in the same way as a Nobel laureate. Jesus' life indicates that he was profoundly intelligent, readily grasping complex situations for which he provided stunning solutions. This presentation will move from a biblical foundation to focus on the integration of Christianity and scholarship from the perspective of developing a Christian mind and how this can guide teaching, service, and scholarship.


Day 4

Different Views on Genetics and a Christian Worldview
Panel Discussion with Zachary Ardern, Richard Buggs, Kirk Durston, Fraser Fleming, and Boris Schmidtgall; led by Peter Imming and Alexander Fink

After a lot of different aspects and specific input on genetics and the origin of life, we would like to bring all the different speakers to the table and try to summarise and compare the different positions on how to think about scientific evidence within a Christian worldview. Also the audience is encouraged to ask questions!

 

How to Integrate Science in a Christian Worldview
Alexander Fink and Peter Imming

We will discuss the implications and challenges this week’s learning will have on our ministries and refer to previous experiences - positive and negative - we have personally had or encountered.  What specific steps can we take at home? Which resources can we use and share? What would help us as scientists to be effective messengers for Christ in our context? How can we motivate more Christian scientists to participate in this process?


 

 

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