The Angry Scientist!!

I won a scholarship in 1981 to attend a special Christian journalism training in Singapore. About 40 sponsored candidates were brought from all over the world to attend this training.

Each person was supposed to send much in advance the outline, plus the first chapter in full, of a proposed book in one’s area of interest. I sent in the outline of a book “Evolution And Empirical Proofs”. In the book I tried to argue that while nobody can deny the right of people to propagate the idea of  evolution, it was wrong on their part to claim that evolution was an empirically established fact.

My journalism mentor-teacher happened to be a lady from Australia, and she was very much impressed by my outline as well as by the first chapter and made a note on the corrected manuscript that she would like to have a copy if the proposed book ever gets published.

Finally I joined the distinguished group for three weeks of on-the-spot training in Singapore in 1981. The best Christian journalism teachers from around the world were there and this training became a turning point in my life. There was practically no free time, and we studied, wrote, critiqued, did more writing, and so on from early morning till late at night.

Each day two or three of the participants presented the outline of their book plus the first chapter. On the fourth or the fifth day a scientist presented his manuscript on theistic evolution. It was more evolution and less theism. Two days after that came my turn. I presented not only the outline and the first chapter, but the summary of the entire book. People were simply galvanized by the presentation. 

I was still on the path of discovery from agnosticism to creationism, and wanted to know if anyone could dismantle any of my arguments. Thus I invited questions at the end of my presentation. But what happened after that was not expected by anyone. Before anyone could ask any question, the scientist jumped up and started shouting at me. He said “you are a stupid young man, you do not know anything about science. I am a scientist. I attend conferences. I know what is truth. Your whole presentation is nothing except rubbish”.

For me, having come from one of the pioneer physics departments in India where open inquiry  with humility was always encouraged, this was a most shocking experience. In our department, even the top men (DAAD scholars, Van Hambolt Scholars, pioneers in quantum-nuclear physics) always spoke with respect to their juniors even in the face of strong disagreement. The age of a person did not matter. They made it a point to inquire first, and disagree after.

Remembering that training, I politely asked the scientist for a systematic refutation of my arguments. This only seemed to anger him more. When I asked him what he thought about the current references I had furnished from journals, he went into the third fit of anger. Everyone was uneasy.

Finally one of the older participants (a retired college professor) stood up and said, “Johnson presented his case well. What is more, he presented it so clearly that we enjoyed listening to him. What you did is no way to speak to a fellow participant. Please speak to him in a sober manner”. Meanwhile the Academic Dean, who had gone out for a  few minutes, had returned to witness the last few minutes of the outrage. An active  scientist at that time with NATO, he said “This is improper behavior. If you have any academic disagreements, please present it in a manner that suits academicians”. With that he prayed and closed the meeting.

Meanwhile, my presentation had lit a fire in their hearts and it continued to be the point of person to person discussion till the very end of the program. People would simply elbow their way to the seat next to me during tea, lunch or dinner and then we would go into extended discussion. I will never forget the satisfaction of having advanced much on my evolution-creation quest because of this intense interaction and interrogation.

However, one question keeps coming back to me: when a theist presents his side in a rational manner, why do many theistic-evolutionists and atheists lose temper and self-control. More so when the theist seems to have captured the mind of his listeners/readers.

[Dr. Johnson C. Philip is a physicist, with expertise inter alia in Quantum-nuclear Physics, and has worked extensively on the inner quark-structure of Protons and Neutrons. He has also specialized in Christian Apologetics, Biblical Archeology, Journalism, Alternative Medicines, and several other fields]

Dr Matthew Flannagan on Belief without Proof

What: Dr Matthew Flannagan speaking on Belief without Proof

When: Tuesday 31th March – 7:00pm

Where: Lecture Room 2, Laidlaw College, 80 Central Park Drive, Henderson, West Auckland

Format: Talk followed by questions, answers and discussion.

Cost:  Free!  (Donation appreciated)

 

Dr Flannagan will address the objection that Christianity is irrational in the absence of proof. He will unpack this claim and offer an alternative method of looking at faith and reason demonstrating that lack of evidence does not make faith in God irrational.

Dr Flannagan holds a PhD in Theology, a Masters degree in Philosophy. His area of expertise is the interface between Philosophy and Theology, Applied Ethics and Worldviews. He is an adjunct lecturer in Philosophy for Laidlaw College, writes for the MandM blog and has nearly 15 years experience engaging and challenging secular culture both in New Zealand and internationally.

He is a former student President at the University of Waikato, has formally debated the Abortion Law Reform Association of NZ’s Dr Zoe During and the NZ Association of Rationalist Humanist’s Dr Bill Cooke; he has been published in several international journals of philosophy and has a personal reference from the then President of the Evangelical Theological Society in his resume.

He is used to speaking to a wide range of audiences so you will not need a PhD to understand him.

Thinking Matters – Auckland

 

Thinking Matters is a community of professional and lay apologists dedicated to offering credible reasons to believe and rationally answering objections to the Christian faith.

 Thinking Matters Auckland hold regular Apologetics seminars, showcasing New Zealand’s best Apologetic talents and screen DVDs of the world’s top Apologists defending the Christian Faith. Opportunity for analysis, discussion and questions follow each event.

 The seminars are held in Lecture Room 2 of West Auckland’s Laidlaw College, fortnightly on Tuesdays, from 7-9pm; there is no charge although donations are welcome. The seminars are accessible to all with an interest in Apologetics, suitable for teenagers through to adults and open to anyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.

 

For further information contact:

Madeleine Flannagan

09 835 1554

021 026 94751

Thinking Matters

Former Buddhist Speaks Out

It has irked me that the west has a rosy-eyed view of Buddhism as a moral system. I’ve come across people who praise the atheistic religion for their peaceful way of life and their system of ethics that is – supposedly – superior to Christian model of ethics. You get this also through the media as well, for instance in the movie Bee Season (2005) with Richard Gere.

This testimony from AOG pastor Peter Thein Nyunt, a former Buddhist’s apprentice destroys that idea. He was recently in New Zealand with the Langham Partnership. The view from the inside from this native from Myanmar (formerly Burma) about Buddhism is illuminating.

For the audio go here.

Bias, Prejudice, and Cheating in Science!!

The word “Science” evokes God-like respect for many people, more because the advances of “technology” have blurred what people should know about “science” and the scientific establishment. This awe for science is often exploited by the so-called rationalists for intimidating Christians, particularly those who are passing through doubts about the Bible and their faith.

Christians need to be reminded repeatedly that while science as a discipline of study aims to be objective, the “practice” of science is not always full of objectivity. One’s philosophy, political loyalties, departmental intrigues, mutual competition, and the plain old desire to lie towards one’s goal are all common in science. A good example is Galileo.

Most people only know that Galileo Galilee was condemned by the church. But they do not know that it was a political affair, in which Galileo played a political manipulation. His manipulations were opposed by the “scientific establishment” of his time, and it is they who used the church to get Galileo condemned. In essence, the Galileo affair was not church versus science, but mostly “science-politicized” on both the sides.

That bias, prejudice, and outright cheating does exist in science has been demonstrated once again by the Celecoxib Affair. Celecoxib is a member of a family of medicines known as NSAID (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs). Dr. Scott S. Reuben of the Baystate Medical Centre in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA has published several papers on this medicine and related subjects.

It was revealed recently, in the first audit, that 21 of the 72 papers he published were outright frauds. What is more, an uncountable number derivative research papers have been published by an uncountable number of other researchers who took the original papers for granted. Only a detailed audit will reveal the exact number of fraudulent papers published by Dr. Reuben. The papers exposed as frauds are being retracted by medical journals that published them (all of these are peer-reviewed journals). Worse, his forged papers were quoted more than his more genuine papers, which means the false information propagated by him has travelled farther than the more objective one.

Initial auditing shows that he published research papers with fabricated data for 13 years and his peers simply okayed the papers without being able to detect the fraud. It is only recently that Hwang Woo Suk’s fraud related to stem cell research was found.

Science is not a monolithic body of truth. Nor is scientific research any kind of bias-free mechanical activity. One has to carefully analyze both the corpus of science as well as the conduct of researchers in science before one accepts any claim for objective truth. More so when some people try to use (rather, misuse) the name of science to attack the Bible or the Christian faith.

Online Resources For Further Reading

[Dr. Johnson C. Philip is a physicist, with expertise inter alia in Quantum-nuclear Physics, and has worked extensively on the inner quark-structure of Protons and Neutrons. He has also specialized in Christian Apologetics, Biblical Archeology, Journalism, Alternative Medicines, and several other fields]

Portrait of an Intellectually Honest Atheist

Dinesh D’Souza, author of What’s So Great About Christianity, has written an interesting article in Christianity Today about bioethicist Peter Singer and particularly Singer’s honest embrace of the ethical implications of atheism. Here are the final paragraphs:

Singer resolutely takes up a Nietzschean call for a “transvaluation of values,” with a full awareness of the radical implications. He argues that we are not creations of God but rather mere Darwinian primates. We exist on an unbroken continuum with animals. Christianity, he says, arbitrarily separated man and animal, placing human life on a pedestal and consigning the animals to the status of tools for human well-being. Now, Singer says, we must remove Homo sapiens from this privileged position and restore the natural order. This translates into more rights for animals and less special treatment for human beings. There is a grim consistency in Singer’s call to extend rights to the apes while removing traditional protections for unwanted children, people with mental disabilities, and the noncontributing elderly.

Some of Singer’s critics have called him a Nazi and compared his proposals to Hitler’s schemes for eliminating those perceived as unwanted and unfit. A careful reading of his work, however, shows that Singer is no Hitler. He doesn’t want state-sponsored killings. Rather, he wants the decision to kill to be made by private individuals like you and me. Instead of government-conducted genocide, Singer favors free-market homicide.

Why haven’t the atheists embraced Peter Singer? I suspect it is because they fear that his unpalatable views will discredit the cause of atheism. What they haven’t considered, however, is whether Singer, virtually alone among their numbers, is uncompromisingly working out the implications of living in a truly secular society, one completely purged of Christian and transcendental foundations. In Singer, we may be witnessing someone both horrifying and yet somehow refreshing: an intellectually honest atheist.

Source: JT

The Creative Power of Nothingness!!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had lost my faith by the time I reached the School senior years. Since my greatest ambition at that time was to become a scientist, I devoted all my free time to reading science books — any science book on which I could lay my hand.

I am talking of the late nineteen sixties. The Creation movement was still dormant, and books on creationism or apologetics were scarce. Most people did not know how to think critically and scientifically on evolution.  All what was available was evolutionary indoctrination that permeated all science books. Since there was no substantial challenge from the other side, evolutionist writers were often brash in their claims. They often attributed creative powers to everything conceivable.

Worse, “everything” was considered proof for evolution. If a monkey scratched his head, that was proof of evolution. If a gorilla was attracted to a bald spot on his body (this is an actual incident), that was proof of evolution.  There was no rigor in these evolutionist writings because there was no substantial challenge yet for objective demonstration.

One of the key words seen all around was “randomness”. Every evolutionist spoke or randomness and blind chance — for your are left with nothing else other than these two things once you say goodbye to the idea of God. We were indoctrinated in every nook and cranny of the science books that randomness and blind chance were great creators. They were the great gods of science. I was totally taken by this propaganda for some time. Then one day I read something and everything changed!!

I read about the Law of Biogenesis, which says in effect that  life comes ONLY from preexisting life. Pasteurization of food items and Sterilization of surgical equipment draws from the fact that the atoms in the food or in the medical theater do not just fall upon each other to become germs.

Starting from there it was a long way till my non-theist professor challenged me in public. Surprisingly, he challenged my atheistic presupposition. How thankful am I to him today!

In all these years one thing become clear to me — whether it is rats in a dark corner of your barn, or germs in your wound, life comes only from preexisting life. Blind chance and randomness do not create. Nothingness has only one creative power: that is,  “nothing”!! On the other hand,  Randomness and blind chance definitely “destroy” things.

Abiogenesis was a word coined to counter Biogenesis. The word remains as infertile (or more) today than when it was coined. All the laws of physics and chemistry go against Abiogenesis. Nothingness (randomness and blind chance) is not a creator. It is only a destroyer of order.

[Dr. Johnson C. Philip is a physicist, with expertise inter alia in Quantum-nuclear Physics, and has worked extensively on the inner quark-structure of Protons and Neutrons. He has also specialized in Christian Apologetics, Biblical Archeology, Journalism, Alternative Medicines, and several other fields]

Thinking Matters Auckland 001

 

Thinking Matters is proud to present the very first of Thinking Matters Auckland. The details of what this is and how this event will be run follows. Big thanks go to Madeline Flannagan for orchestrating and managing the event. Make sure you mark this in your calendar.
What: Dr Steve Kumar speaking on Faith and Reason
When: Tuesday, 17th March 7-9pm
Where: Lecture Room 2, Laidlaw College, 221 Lincoln Rd, Henderson, West Auckland
Format: Talk followed by questions, answers and discussion.
Cost: Free!
Dont miss hearing New Zealands most prominent Christian Apologist.

For almost thirty years Dr Kumar has been actively involved in speaking and writing about apologetics, philosophy and faith. As a New Zealand Christian apologist, he is a sought-after speaker in academic and church settings around the world. He is a frequent guest on television, radio, and news media programs and is an influential voice on issues that relate to the credibility of the Christian truth claims.

Mark it in your calendar now and forward this email to your friends

logo_auckland_b


Media Release:
Following on from the interest Dr William Lane Craig generated when he visited New Zealand last year, Thinking Matters Auckland (TMA) announce the launch of their Apologetics seminars.

At the seminars, TMA will showcase New Zealands best Apologetic talents and screen DVDs of the worlds top Apologists defending the Christian Faith.
Opportunity for analysis, discussion and questions will follow each event.
Thinking Matters is a community of professional and lay apologists dedicated to offering credible reasons to believe and rationally answering objections to the Christian faith.

Seminars will be held at West Aucklands Laidlaw College in LR2 fortnightly on Tuesdays from 7-9pm.
TMA seminars are free events, accessible to all and open to anyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.
For further information contact:
Dr Matthew Flannagan
09 835 1554
021 256 7174

He Came To Disprove God!

Several years ago a smart-looking young boy came to me and said, "Sir I am an Engineering College student. I have been reading the Bible for some time and have come to you to argue that  that God does not exist. I heard you are an apologist, and also a physicist, so you and I can have a great time talking". I was happy to meet him, and welcomed him for a cup of coffee.

On the appointed day he visited me at my home, and was unusually eager to talk. I once again asked him whether he was sure he wanted to argue with me, and he said yes. I then asked if he would keep his conversation strictly at the scientific level, seeing that is what he said the day before. He said he would keep his arguments strictly at the scientific level, and added that this would be the appropriate approach seeing that he was an Engineering student and I that I had a physics background.

Without delay I invited him to present at least one experimental or observational evidence that disproves God. He was suddenly possessed by silence. In fact he was dumbfounded. He had read plenty of publications written against God, and thought that these are all scientific arguments, but when confronted to support his contention that he would use science to argue against the existence of God, he was unable to advance a single evidence.

He than asked me to list my reasons for belief in God, and that he would refute all of them. I asked him whether such a refutation would amount to a “scientific” proof that God did not exist. He paused for a few moments and then accepted that such refutation would not amount to a scientific proof that God does not exist.

I then reminded that right from the moment he sought me out, he had been working on the premise that he would “disprove” the existence of God using “scientific proofs”. After much silence he asked my leave for a few weeks after which he said he would surely come back to me with such arguments.

The young man never came back. I still wait for him. I wait for him in vain because nobody has proved that God does not exist, though plenty of people claim that science has disproved God. The ball still remains in the court of the so-called “rationalist”.

[Dr. Johnson C. Philip is a physicist, with expertise inter alia in Quantum-nuclear Physics, and has worked extensively on the inner quark-structure of Protons and Neutrons. He has also specialized in Christian Apologetics, Biblical Archeology, and several other fields]

Public Lecture on Global Warming: a Christian response

Auckland University school of theology is hosting a public lecture on Global Warming: a Christian response with Professor Robert White, Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth Sciences at University of Cambridge.

Professor Robert White is Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge (since 1989) and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1994. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society, and a member of the American Geophysical Union. He leads a research group investigating the Earth’s dynamic crust. His scientific work is published in over 300 articles. Bob is Associate Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, and a director of the John Ray Initiative, an educational charity that works to develop and communicate a Christian understanding of the environment.

Thursday 12 March 2009, 6-7 pm

Theatre OGGB4, Business School, corner of Symonds Street and Grafton Road, The University of Auckland

Parking under Owen G Glenn building,
$5 flat rate

See Poster

Symposium on science and religion in the 21st Century

Auckland University School of Theology is hosting a symposium on Science and religion in the 21st Century: faith in science, science in faith with Professor Robert White FRS, Professor of Geophysics, University of Cambridge. Saturday 14 March 2009, 8.30am-6pm.

Programme;

Prof Jeff Tallon FRSNZ

Truth or true? – faith and science rubbing shoulders
 

Prof Bob White FRS

Natural disasters: acts of God or results of human folly?
 

Dr Graeme Finlay

The story in our genes
 

Rev Dr Graham O’Brien

Evolving evolution

 
Prof Gareth Jones CNZM

Manufacturing humans: the borderlands between human and divine control
 

Prof John McClure

Psychology and religion: is there a ghost in the machine?

 
Dr Stephen Garner/ Dr Nicola Hoggard-Creegan

The view from theology

 

Saturday 14 March 2009, 8.30am-6pm

Theatre 401-439, ‘Neon Foyer’, Engineering School, Symonds Street, The University of

Auckland

 

Registration is required for the symposium by Wednesday 11 March, with p.medhora@auckland.ac.nz

Cost $20, non-waged people $10 (refreshments and lunch provided)

Parking can be found under Owen G Glenn building, $5 flat rate

How To Oppose Reason!!

I have so far made only 3 posts on this blog, and this is only the fourth one, but the experience has been great! It is no different from what I have been facing all my life. I started the first public presentation sometimes around 1971 after I read “Bible and Modern Science” by Henry M. Morris.

This was basically a time for exploration for me because I took almost 14 years of study and exploration to move from a kind of agnosticism to full belief in Bible and creation.  Thus in those days I would study a given topic, present it in an apologetic manner and interact with people, allow my stand to be questioned, and would then spend much time in reflection to make my stand objective.  What surprised me most during these years of exploration was the way people hostile to Bible reacted.

As a student of science, I expected people to react rationally. More so if they claimed (which most of the evolutionists and critics did) to represent the rational side of the argument. However, I invariably received two kinds of responses. The first one was from the audience that came with an inquiring attitude. They would sometimes keep asking questions for hours, and I would be delighted to interact with them because this would give me an opportunity to think through areas that I had not thought of before. It would also help me to look rationally at many subjects that had not crossed my mind.

The second type of response came from people who had already decided that evolution explains it all – any kind of evolution, be it naturalistic or theistic. To my surprise – who was an inquirer on my way to discovery – these  people would rabidly attack my presentation rather than ask questions. Of course, I knew that they were opposed to my outlook (an agnostic who was on his way to theistic outlook), but what I never expected, or never felt comfortable with, was the simple and plain hostility – totally contrary to the rational behavior that I expected from them.

One of the typical incidents took place in a place called Vidisha in MP (India). At that time I was into the second round of research (in fundamental physics, at that time) towards my PhD in physics. I had a one-day program among college students where I spoke about Bible, science, and evolution. I told them that I was only an explorer, and that I strongly felt that a theistic framework was able to offer a satisfactory explanation of the origin and purpose of human life.

Students asked numerous questions and I gave them theistic answers that all of them appreciated. Since I had gone through all these questions and doubts myself during the previous years of my quest, most of the answers came easy to me. At the end of the day a student representative thanked me for two things. First, for my clear and concise communication, and second for my honest admission that I myself was a seeker inching towards a theistic framework.

The meeting was about to close with prayer when a professor who worked in this secular college jumped up from his seat, shot to the stage, and simply grabbed the mike without asking for permission. Then in a fit of rage  he jumped up and down for the next ten minutes as through he had some kind of a possession. All what he kept shouting was “Students did not need so much information from you. All they needed was just a bit of enlightenment”.

The program was organized by students, and these were times of “student power” in India. So a (presumably) non Christian student and a representative of the student-union stood up, politely told the professor that he was wrong in his assertion that “Students did not need so much information from you. All they needed was just a bit of enlightenment”. He said these things are to be decided by the students,  and with equal politeness asked the professor to allow the meeting to proceed as per schedule. The professor immediately realized that this was a warning from the entire student body, and sensing their mood he quit the stage in a hurry. The students were very apologetic about this incident, and told me later that this man, a devoted theistic evolutionist, was hostile to anything that could be labeled as Christian apologetics.

Over the years I have spoken in numerous conferences. I found that without exception, people who are devoted to the evolutionary viewpoint of life often become disruptive as soon as the apologist seems to have delivered a powerful presentation. There have only been few occasions when they did not become hostile or when they did not oppose reason. Something seems touch a raw nerve when theistic truths are defended in a rational manner.

[Dr. Johnson C. Philip is a physicist, with expertise inter alia in Quantum-nuclear Physics, and has worked extensively on the inner quark-structure of Protons and Neutrons. He has also specialized in Christian Apologetics, Biblical Archeology, and several other fields]

Science and Faith: Some Auckland events with Dr Frank Stootman

Dr Frank Stootman will be visiting New Zealand for two evening meetings and an afternoon/evening seminar in late March. Dr Stootman is an astrophysicist and an associate professor at the University of Western Sydney, and head of the Australian L’Abri community. I was able to hear him last year at a seminar he gave and found him particularly good in his discussion of the current debates in the science related to the mind. He is passionate about the integration of science and faith and in continuing the apologetic legacy of Francis Schaeffer. Some of the venues are still to be finalised, and I will update the post when the details become available. Anyone is welcome, but please contact Peter at psbowden@vodafone.co.nz first, as numbers will be limited by the size of the venues.

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Saturday 21 March – 7pm: The life and impact of Francis Schaeffer
Venue; Drs Bryan and Susan Parry’s house, 17 Empire Rd Epsom.

A discussion of the life and writings of Francis Schaeffer who with his wife Edith founded the Christian community of L’Abri in Switzerland in the 1950’s. His evaluation of culture in all its variety; art, science, literature, and ideas from a Christian perspective and in the context of community has been a profound influence for good in the lives of generations of people. His work continues in L’Abri communities around the world.

Saturday 28 March – 2pm – 9pm. Comprehending Life, the Universe, and God

Dinner catered for at 6pm.
Venue – the home of Dr Peter and Sarah Bowden
68 Esplanade Rd., Mt Eden.

Topics to be presented and discussed:
1. The Grandeur of the Universe: Dimensioning the Majesty of God
2. Is there other life out there? What are the implications? A look at modern SETI (Search for extra-terrestial intelligence)
3. Is the universe too good to be true? A look at the extraordinarily finely tuned universe we inhabit that has allowed the world and universe we know to exist and human life to flourish.

$10 fee for students. $25 for non students.