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In the Beginning: Pensmore Dialogue at PHC Tackles Science, Faith

December 31st, 1969

By Alicia Constant and Liberty Davidson

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722


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Dr. John Lennox speaks at the Pensmore Dialogue, held at PHC on April 4-5.

Over 800 people from across the country crowded into the Patrick Henry College gymnasium on April 4 and 5 for the Pensmore Dialogue on Science and Faith. Notable Christian speakers, including Dr. John Lennox, Dr. Stephen Meyer, and Dr. Jay Richards, wrestled with the origins of life and the respective roles of science and faith in the Christian life.

Throughout the conference, Twitter exploded with dozens of attendees live-tweeting the event. On both Friday and Saturday, Lennox’s presentations entitled “Has Science Buried God?” and “Is God Necessary to Explain Life?” received standing ovations from the audience.

“It is important in the current the 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 “Signature in the Cell,” Dr. Stephen Meyer 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 fine-tuned for life, said Dr. Jay Richards, and our planet possesses an extremely improbable alignment of factors necessary for habitability, including a stabilizing moon, plate tectonics, the right atmosphere, the right galaxy, and the right cosmic time. “If the earth were just slightly different, no life would be here,” Richards said.

On Friday morning, pastors had the opportunity to attend a special nondenominational session on pastoring scientifically literate congregations. Approximately ninety high school and college students attended the special student session featuring Dr. Robert Spitzer, Dr. Michael Kucks, and Dr. Michael Tenneson. In his opening comments, Spitzer encouraged students to prepare themselves to stand up to 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,” Spitzer said.

Breakout sessions on Saturday allowed attendees to hear from PHC’s Chancellor, Dr. Michael Farris, and Dr. Stephen Meyer on how the teaching of intelligent design in schools affects public policy. PHC’s Physics professor, Dr. Michael Kucks, presented on "Faith & Science: PB&J, or Oil and Water?” and attendees also had the chance to hear the latest research on the Earth’s habitability.

In "Evidence for the Supernatural from Human Consciousness," Dr. Robert Spitzer spoke of medical research on near-death experiences that indicate humans are more than merely material beings.

Many attendees left the conference intellectually challenged and encouraged 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."

As the conference closed, Lennox emphasized that Intelligent Design is not only viable; it’s the best fit for the evidence.

“In 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.”