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Scientists

2021 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 researcher in bacterial evolutionary genomics based in Germany. He has a background in biology and philosophy, and his research is on some of the fundamentals of evolutionary theory. Zachary studied for his PhD in New Zealand and completed his thesis on 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.

 

Geoff Barnard worked for over 50 years as a research scientist and senior lecturer in three universities in the UK. Since 1978, he has been a regular visiting research scientist at the Weizmann Institute, Israel. His final academic position in the UK (2002-2009) was as a senior research fellow within the Department for Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge. Since 2010, Geoff and his wife Caryl have lived in Arad, Israel on the edge of the Negev Desert. He has published over 80 peer-reviewed research papers and written nine chapters for academic science textbooks. He has spoken several times at the ELF.

 

Harald Binder is a passionate and inquisitive scientist (chemist). After a three-year period working as a teacher of chemistry and biology at a secondary school, he now works with the Christian organisation Studiengemeinschaft Wort und Wissen doing research and giving lectures. His topics of interest are in molecular paleontology, origins of life, molecular biology, and philosophical questions about the understanding of life. He is married to Elisabeth and they have four grown-up children and (so far) three grandchildren.

 

Alistair McKitterick has been a tutor and lecturer in Biblical and Theological Studies at Moorlands College for over sixteen years, teaching subjects such as biblical theology, hermeneutics, practical theology, and apologetics. He is currently completing a practical theology doctorate on the effects of teaching science to evangelical students.  He is married to Emily, has four children, and lives in Chichester.

 

James M. Tour is the T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering at Rice University in Houston, Texas, USA. Tour’s scientific research spans across many areas of nanotechnology, from medicine to nanomachines and new materials. He has founded more than 10 companies based upon his research, two of those now public companies. He has over 700 research publications and over 140 patent families, with an h-index = 150 and total citations of ~110,000.

 

NETWORK PROGRAMME

Day 1

How Should We Then Read Genesis 1-11 and What About Science?

Alistair McKitterick

What reading strategies and literary features help us to read Genesis 1–11, and how might we relate these chapters to the rest of the book? Genesis has been at the centre of debates about how evangelicals should engage with science, and in this talk Alistair McKitterick will give an overview of different positions that Christians hold and highlight some key texts that are interpreted differently. We will conclude by drawing out some of the implications for our understanding of the Bible, science, and worldviews. 

 

Epigenetic Inheritance: Potential and Limitations

Geoff Barnard

In November 2016, a remarkable international meeting took place at the Royal Society (RS) in London, UK. It was entitled “New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives”. The meeting addressed many of the mechanistic problems faced by conventional Neo-Darwinism in its attempt to explain the origin and diversity of life. The extended evolutionary synthesis, as it is now called, includes the idea of epigenetic inheritance. At the RS meeting, this concept was presented by Dr. Eva Jablonka. In his talk, Geoff will give an overview of the principles of epigenetic inheritance together with its potential and limitations as a mechanism for real macro-evolutionary change. By way of background, attendees are referred to Geoff’s talk on the epigenome given at the ELF in 2013.


Day 2

Fine-Tuning in Biology

Speaker to Be Announced

Fine-tuning is a concept often applied in cosmology, but how valid is it to use ‘fine-tuning’ in biology? The speaker will discuss one particular aspect of fine-tuning in biology, namely the double layer (‘bilayer’) of lipid (fat) molecules that surround all cells. He will describe the complexity of lipid bilayers in some detail and discuss the philosophical and theological ramifications of such fine-tuning.

 

Scientists Remain Clueless on the Origin of Life

James Tour

In this session, James Tour will speak about how scientists are clueless on life’s origin, covering the four classes of compounds (amino acids, lipids, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates) and their assembly into a cell. Specifics on the state of origin of life research will be presented.


Day 3

Genomic Evidence for Common Descent: Implications for a Christian Account of Origins

Zachary Ardern

Various lines of genomic evidence support the biological relatedness of all life on Earth. It is commonly thought that this claim undermines a theistic account of biological origins, and perhaps particularly a Christian one. One strand of this objection is that common descent undermines natural theological arguments from biology. In this talk I will focus on unpacking some of the genomic evidence, explaining data which I believe all accounts should attempt to deal with. I will also briefly outline some possible routes for theistic 'bio-theological' arguments. 

 

Session 1: Speaker to Be Announced


Day 4

Dry-Aged Bones: Soft Tissue and Cells in Dinosaur Fossils

Harald Binder

Beginning in the 1990s there have been several reports about preserved bio-macromolecules in Mesozoic dinosaur fossils. Due to experience in the laboratory in handling substances like these, flexible tissue and fragments from bio-macromolecules – millions of years old – are completely unexpected. What is the interpretation of this experimental data and what may it tell us about earth history?

 

Fossils, Genes, and the Bible

All Network Speakers

Panel Discussion led by Alexander Fink and Peter Imming

Scientists collect data and try to make sense of them. Often conflicting theories arise, as worldview presuppositions enter into the interpretations. How can we compare different approaches and decide on the best explanation? We want to try to summarise and compare the different positions on how to think about scientific evidence within a Christian worldview. The audience is encouraged to ask questions!

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