In a quest to discover if there’s anything you can’t put in a single-elimination bracket, the Emerging Scholars Network presents the Most Pressing Science & Faith Question tournament! Over the next few weeks, you will have the chance to vote in match-ups between questions related in some way to the science & faith conversation. You don’t have to answer the questions, just pick the ones you want to have answered out of each pair. When the dust settles and the votes have been tallied, the victorious query will be celebrated with a definitive answer in 1,000 words or less. OK, not a definitive answer, but definitely some musings. We’ll give some detailed attention to the rest of the final four as well. As the rest are eliminated, I’ll attempt some quick takes. Got it? Click here to go to the poll or use the embedded version below.
Here are the longer versions of each question, divided into four topic “regions.” Abbreviated versions appear in the bracket poll; you can always refer to this list for elaboration. Voting will remain open until Sunday at midnight to give me some time to prep a results post for the following Wednesday. So you can vote in Round 1 until this Sunday (March 14th), in Round 2 until March 21st, and so on. Feel free to share the link with friends, on social media, etc. All votes are welcome.
Philosophy & Ethics
- Is science the only or best way to know truth?
- Are atheism, materialism, methodological naturalism and evolution interchangeable?
- What is the difference between consensus and consilience?
- How should we interact with biomedical products of exploitation?
- How do we decide appropriate constraints for ex vivo research?
- Should animals be granted some or all of the same rights as humans?
- Is there a point at which we can conclude science will never answer a given question about the physical world?
- Is significance proportional to physical dimensions?
Theology & Religion
- Why does a good creation have so much suffering?
- Is God a tenable scientific hypothesis?
- When does science rule out a miracle?
- How does God interact with the physical world?
- How is science discussed in the Bible?
- How much can we learn from general revelation?
- How should a Christian approach science as a calling?
- How much should science inform religious practice?
- Do evolutionary origins render design in biology merely apparent?
- What makes humans human, and when did they start being human?
- Where does biological information come from?
- How does biological complexity increase?
- Is belief in God necessary for the invention of science?
- Are some versions of evolutionary biology more compatible with Christianity than others?
- What would it take for a paradigm shift away from Big Bang cosmology or common descent?
- Are multiverses and cyclical cosmologies just atheism rescue devices?
- What would the discovery of extraterrestrial life mean for Christianity?
- Where will genetic engineering take us, and should we go there?
- How do we keep our technology from repeating and amplifying our biases and mistakes?
- Should we put our hopes in a green revolution or a red planet?
- Could an artificial intelligence ever be saved?
- Would simulating a universe be the same as creation?
- Will our descendants evolve beyond humanity?
- What happens when we can time travel to the Resurrection?
Where did these questions come from? I considered the questions from our STEAM grant series, but I didn’t want to just recapitulate that process. I also consulted Can a Scientist Believe in Miracles? which has a number of questions Ian Hutchinson has fielded over the years. In both cases, there were a lot of questions that deal more broadly with how an intelligent or rational person might approach Christianity rather than being specifically science-related. I wanted to stick more closely to the realm of science. That’s not to say they can all be answered by scientific engagement, just that they deal with issues more distinctly connected to the physical world. I also considered the questions people have asked me or that I’ve seen them asking or discussing. I tried to stay away from overly technical questions and overly familiar questions without completely omitting the classics.
Naturally, my own interests also color the choices; I don’t want to end up providing answers to questions for which I have nothing to say. That doesn’t mean mine will be the only answers you’ll get. Once the finalists are determined, my intention is to identify folks who will have worthwhile answers and bring them into the conversation. Whether that means guest posts, dialogues, some kind of roundtable discussion or some other format will depend on the questions and the answerers. So much is riding on this tournament! So let’s get to the voting.
Andy has worn many hats in his life. He knows this is a dreadfully clichéd notion, but since it is also literally true he uses it anyway. Among his current metaphorical hats: husband of one wife, father of two teenagers, reader of science fiction and science fact, enthusiast of contemporary symphonic music, and chief science officer. Previous metaphorical hats include: comp bio postdoc, molecular biology grad student, InterVarsity chapter president (that one came with a literal hat), music store clerk, house painter, and mosquito trapper. Among his more unique literal hats: British bobby, captain’s hats (of varying levels of authenticity) of several specific vessels, a deerstalker from 221B Baker St, and a railroad engineer’s cap. His monthly Science in Review is drawn from his weekly Science Corner posts — Wednesdays, 8am (Eastern) on the Emerging Scholars Network Blog. His book Faith across the Multiverse is available from Hendrickson.