A Theory of Everything – What are the chances?
The Student Conference 2017 was held on Saturday 11th February 2017 at The King’s Centre, Oxford.
This year the theme was based around the ideas of probability, chance, significance, randomness, order…and how they play into various different disciplines, our understanding of science as a whole, and how our faith in a creator God interacts with that. We have some excellent speakers on aspects of Physics, Biology and Philosophy coming to join us, so check out the details below:-
Tom McLeish – Lessons from Medieval Science for the Science-Religion Discussion Today (mp3)
Powerpoint: Powerpoint Tom
Dr Rhoda Hawkins – Order and Disorder (mp3)
I will discuss the role of order and disorder in science and in Christian theology. After some introductory definitions, I will give a broad brush of several different scientific areas including thermodynamics, statistical physics, stochastic processes, chaos, quantum mechanics, astrophysics and biology. After discussing the emergence of order from disorder in various systems scientifically I will make connections to order and disorder in creation. I will consider open theism, causation and the question “is God in control?” I will conclude with thoughts on how emergence of order can lead to wonder and worship.
Dr Neville Cobbe – Chance and Necessity: on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology (mp3)
In this presentation, taking inspiration for its title from a famous essay by Jacques Monod, the different views of various biologists and influential popularisers of science will be discussed in the context of a current understanding of evolutionary processes, followed by reflection on how this might relate to Biblical views of divine action.
Chris Oldfield – A Theory of Everything
Powerpoint: Powerpoint Chris
‘Everything’, wrote C.S. Lewis in 1948, ‘is a subject about which there is not much to be said’. Not that you would get that impression today. Talk of a ‘theory of everything’ being within our grasp is extremely common – in both academic literature (e.g. Hawking 1988, Chalmers 1996, Nagel 2012) and popular imagination. Even Eddie Redmayne has something to say about it. But what exactly is a theory of everything? And what exactly is at stake, theologically speaking, in the faith that such a thing exists? We shall discuss some influential pictures of what a theory of everything could/should/would look like, and ask what (if anything) God might have to do with the idea, let alone the thing itself (should we ever find one).
Other contributions for the day include:
‘Let There be Science’ book plug from Tom McLeish: Let There Be Science – book plug