Patrick Henry College
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Dr. Michael Farris (l) interviews Drs. Lennox, Meyers, and Richards
After months of preparation by PHC’s staff and a team of students, over 800 people from across the country packed the Patrick Henry College gymnasium on April 4 and 5 for the Pensmore Dialogue on Science and Faith. Notable Christian speakers, including Oxford mathematics professor Dr. John Lennox, and authors Dr. Stephen Meyer and Dr. Jay Richards, wrestled with the origins of life and the roles of science and faith in the Christian life.
Throughout the conference, Twitter exploded with live-tweeting by attendees. Jay Richards kicked off the conference with a talk on why science matters to people of faith, and on Friday and Saturday, Lennox’s presentations entitled “Has Science Buried God?” and “Is God Necessary to Explain Life?” received standing ovations.
“It is important in the current debate that Christians are characterized by thinking more rather than thinking less,” Lennox said. “The first thing to realize is that the idea of science on the one side and God on the other, essentially at war, is dangerously false….What we’re dealing with in our culture is a worldview conflict.”
Lennox, along with Richards and Dr. Vern Poythress, emphasized that science has shifted drastically from the investigation of an orderly world, based on the idea of a Designer, to a materialistic ideology bent on excluding God at all costs.
“A world of chaos does not lend itself to science,” Poythress said, stressing that scientists must have an ultimate idea of purpose to understand the created world.
In his session entitled “The Return of the God Hypothesis,” Dr. Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute argued that evolution’s inability to explain the origin of the information in DNA meant that “mutation and natural selection are exceedingly improbable explanations for the origin of life and the universe.”
The universe is impeccably fine-tuned for life, observed Dr. Jay Richards, and our planet possesses an almost impossibly precise alignment of critical factors necessary for habitability, including a stabilizing moon, plate tectonics, an exquisitely calibrated atmosphere, even a delicately ordered galaxy turning in flawless cosmic time. “If the earth were just slightly different, no life would be here,” Richards said.
On Friday morning, nearly 20 pastors from all backgrounds attended a special session on empowering scientifically literate congregations, while some ninety high school and college students enjoyed a special student session with Dr. Robert Spitzer, Dr. Michael Kucks, and Dr. Michael Tenneson. In his comments, Spitzer encouraged students to equip themselves to confront teachers and friends who try to disprove God with science.
“I know it takes guts to respond to a teacher, but when they make a theological statement, it’s your right to respond,” said Spitzer, president of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith.
Special Saturday breakout sessions saw PHC’s Chancellor, Dr. Michael Farris, and Dr. Meyer jointly explored how public policy is impacted by the teaching of intelligent design in schools. Attendees also heard the latest research on the Earth’s habitability from renowned physics professor Guillermo Gonzalez.
In "Evidence for the Supernatural from Human Consciousness,” Dr. Robert Spitzer cited intrinsic human values and shared medical research on near-death experiences suggesting that humans are genuinely spiritual beings.
Many attendees left the conference built up in their faith.
“The Pensmore Dialogue was a fantastic opportunity to hear first-class speakers,” said PHC junior Rachel Aldrich. “I was mentally stretched and challenged with every speaker. I'm really hoping we can host this event again."
Lennox closed the conference emphasizing that evidence for a “designer” God is not only viable, it’s the best explanation for the miraculously ordered physical world we inhabit.
“'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ is one of the most famous statements in history,” Lennox said. “Those words are as powerful and meaningful today as they ever have been.”