Event June 8th UK: Can Science Solve Every Mystery?

Centre for Inquiry UK and Conway Hall present

Can science solve every mystery? A scientist, a philosopher and a Christian discuss.
Peter Atkins, David Papineau, Peter S. Williams
Can science answer every question? Should scientists show a little humility and acknowledge there are questions that only religion can answer? Are science and religion “non-overlapping magisteria”, as the scientist Stephen Jay Gould claimed, or is science capable of showing that religion is false, as Richard Dawkins believes? And what, exactly, do philosophers do?
Presented and chaired by Stephen Law (Philosophy, Heythrop and Provost of CFI UK).
Saturday June 8th, 2013
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
Holborn
London
WC1R 4RL
(indicative prices not confirmed) £7 (£4 students) Free to friends of CFI UK. Tickets on door.
10.30am registration. 11am-2.30pm
Speakers
Professor Peter Atkins (Univ. of Oxford). Chemist, atheist and author of many books including Galileo’s Finger and Four Laws That Drive the Universe:
“Religion closes off the central questions of existence by attempting to dissuade us from further enquiry by asserting that we cannot ever hope to comprehend. We are, religion asserts, simply too puny.”
“Sitting around thinking about the world … [that] is philosophy. And we know where that leads to in understanding. My argument is – nowhere.”
Peter S. Williams (Damaris Trust). Philosopher and leading British Christian apologist. Author of C.S. Lewis vs the New Atheists and A Faithful Guide to Philosophy:
“The existence of scientific laws is inexplicable unless we move beyond science into the realm of metaphysics, postulating a God who intends those laws for a reason.”
Professor David Papineau (KCL). One of Britain’s leading philosophers and humanists and author of Philosophical Devices:
“Philosophical problems are characterized by a special kind of difficulty, a difficulty which means that they cannot be solved, as scientific problems normally are, simply by the uncovering of further empirical evidence. Rather they require some conceptual unravelling, a careful unpicking of implicit ideas, often culminating in the rejection of assumptions we didn’t realize we had.”

About Stephen Law
  • busterggi

    At least scientists solve real problems rather than arguing endlessly about imaginary ones as theologists and philosophers do.

  • peter

    “The existence of scientific laws is
    inexplicable unless we move beyond science into the realm of
    metaphysics, postulating a God who intends those laws for a reason“

    We discover scientific laws to discover a god who creates scientific laws we have to discover???
    And why, of why has there be a reason? Applying human need to the Universe? Kind of petty, ain’t it?

  • PDH

    I don’t like the way this question is framed. To concede that science cannot explain everything is not at all to concede anything to religion. It could be, for instance, that science is really good at answering certain kinds of questions and not very good at answering others whereas religion can’t answer any questions at all.

    Nor does it imply, if science cannot answer a question, that the question cannot be answered. If I see a car hurtling towards me on a road I typically get out of the way. This is rational, evidence-based reasoning but it isn’t science. I have not, for example, performed any formal experiments to test my hypothesis that would satisfy the normal criteria used to assess scientific experiments nor have I submitted my results to a reputable scientific journal. Not all good reasoning is scientific, nor should it be.

    Religion performs many functions that science does not but in most, perhaps all cases, there are non-religious alternatives that perform that function at least as well as religion does, if not better. Philosophy, ethics, cultural traditions, art and so forth are more than capable of picking up the slack.

    Phrasing the issue in this manner puts those opposed to religion in the position of defending a straw-man parody of their own argument, in which they are assumed to be saying that science alone can completely replace religion. This invites accusations of scientism and suggests that if science cannot answer some question or perform some function that religion must be the only worthwhile alternative. It is conceding far too much, at the outset, to the religious party to even so much as tacitly imply that they have anything to contribute to these discussions at all.

    A better question would be something like ‘Are Fundamental Questions Answerable?’ or something like that. Let each party suggest how we might go about answering such questions and let us then see how, ‘Devote our lives to certain texts and traditions because we happened to be raised with them due to an accident of birth’ stands up to ‘Use the best available tools to find the most plausible explanation and proportion our beliefs to the evidence.’

  • Pulse

    Can science solve every mystery? No. It is trivial to point out mysteries that science cannot solve. Mysteries of ancient history where all relevant evidence is already lost to time is just one category of mysteries that science cannot solve.

    A better question (and the question the organizers actually imply in the format): Can religion solve any mysteries?


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