God and the Natural Sciences

1046187God and the Natural Sciences
Presented by Stephen Ames at the ISCAST Vic Intensive 2010


Stephen Ames is a Canon of St.Paul’s Cathedral, and a lecturer in the History and Philosophy of Science Programme at The University of Melbourne. For the last nine years he has been the main lecturer in the subject ‘God and the Natural Sciences’, a second and third year subject open to all students. Over 100 students enrol each year. Stephen has one Ph.D. in physics and another in philosophy of science.


The starting point is that the books of the Bible show all the marks of human production.  With careful study we can appreciate the understanding of God, the world, human life, particular human beings that is carried by each book and even competing views within and between books.  The texts tell us what certain people, at certain times and places believed about God etc. but how do we go from this to belief in God?  On what basis can we think these texts tell us something about God not just what their authors believed about God?

The question arises in the context of my teaching ‘God and the Natural Sciences’ at the University of Melbourne.  It is readily provoked by the combination of (1) Galileo’s ‘Two Books’ teaching - where God is the author of the Bible and the Book of Nature and (2) a lecture on ‘Archaeology and the Bible’.  Many atheist students want to understand how we Christians can go beyond the manifestly human production of the Exodus and Conquest narratives and by extension the rest of the Bible.  My response is to identify what other assumptions must be set out in order to make the inference to God possible and then to see how well those assumptions can be established.  My aims are (1) to make this inference intelligible to non believers and to Christians who are uncertain; (2) go onto highlight the value of the ‘Two Books’ principle and (3) to distinguish but not separate this from way God meets us in the reading of the Bible.    




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