This was the topic of a gathering at Acadia University on February 28, 2019, organized by Acadia Students’ Union Rep for Theology, Zachary Goldsmith. The MacRae Centre partnered with the ASU to organize and fund the evening.
Rather than simply set up a binary argument about science and faith, we invited three Acadia University scientists who believe in God to discuss how they reconcile the existence of God and their commitment to scientific inquiry.
At the outset of the evening, the large group of almost 200 people in the room, with more watching the livestream, was asked to report their attitude towards the compatibility of God and science. Here were the results:
Zack introduced the evening, and then our MacRae Centre director, Dr. Anna Robbins, moderated the discussion with Dr. Rob Raeside (Geologist), Dr. John Marimboh (Chemist) and Dr. Mike Robertson (Physicist). Each had a slightly different angle on how they personally held faith and science together in belief and practice. Though many philosophical questions remained, it was a good event with lots of conversation, and opportunity for dialogue as we ‘raised the conversation.”
At the end of the evening, the opening question was asked again. The results are posted below and you can see the numbers of people who changed their minds during the course of the evening. Perhaps the two most significant observations are that several changed their mind from ‘Mostly compatible’ to ‘Absolutely compatible’, and those who moved from ‘I have no idea’ to ‘mostly compatible.’ One person moved from ‘absolutely incompatible’ to ‘mostly incompatible’ which is only significant because it represented a shift of 50%. While there was some movement through the grid during the night, it probably is as reflective of ‘bias confirmation’ as it is of any genuine shift of opinion.
That does not negate the importance of these evening events where we have opportunity to explore the beliefs that people hold, and how faith in the contemporary context is perceived, experienced, and expressed, by a variety of people. For Christians it appears to have been an opportunity to strengthen their confidence in the contemporary context, where faith and science are often unnecessarily set at odds.
You can watch the recording of the event below.