The True Story of Science and Faith

Ian H. Hutchinson, Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Monday, January 27, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
Bauman Auditorium at George Fox University

The public is invited and admission is free. A George Fox Student Research Symposium and dessert reception will follow.

That science and religion are incompatible competitors for our intellectual allegiance is widely presumed today. However, this warfare myth is contradicted by a serious knowledge of history, and by a serious understanding of science and Christianity.

Continued promotion of the myth by secular advocates distorts both science and faith. Their true relationship is a complex story, some highlights of which will be explained, but leads to a reaffirmation that God is revealed in both the Book of His Word (the Bible) and the Book of His Works (nature).

About the Speaker


Ian Hutchinson is professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is an international expert on the physics of plasmas – the ionized fourth state of matter – especially how to confine plasmas hotter than the center of the sun so as to generate practical energy from fusion reactions, the power source of the stars.

Hutchinson led MIT’s major fusion research experiment for 15 years and was head of MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. In addition, he was chairman of the Division of Plasma Physics of the American Physical Society in 2008. He has authored more than 200 scientific journal articles and two advanced science textbooks. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, and the Institute of Physics. He has also written and spoken widely on the relationship between science and Christianity at events sponsored by Christian organizations – including Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, The Veritas Forum, The American Scientific Affiliation, and BioLogos – and in wider secular media, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science panels, broadcast TV debates, syndicated radio interviews, public lectures, and international news blogs.

His 2011 book Monopolizing Knowledge explores how the error of scientism arose, how it undermines reason as well as religion, and how it feeds today’s culture wars and an excessive reliance on technology. His latest book, Can a Scientist Believe in Miracles? An MIT Professor Answers Questions on God and Science (Intervarsity Press, 2018), addresses the specific questions he has been asked over decades of explaining science and Christianity to university audiences.

Additional Science Lecture

"Star Power! Scientific Frontiers of Fusion Energy" at 3 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27, in Bauman Auditorium.

Dalton Lecture Series
John Dalton

The Dalton Lecture Series is sponsored by the George Fox University Department of Biology and Chemistry. These annual lectures feature eminent scientists who are Christian. The Dalton Lecture Series was born out of a desire to not only present world-renowned scientists to George Fox students and the local community, but to show how these scientists integrate their Christianity. Contrary to all-too-common thought, it is possible for a scientist to be intellectually engaged and be a Christian!

John Dalton (1766-1844) was a Quaker scientist best known for his pioneering work in the development of modern atomic theory. He remained a faithful Quaker and educator his entire life.

The Dalton Lecture is open to the public and free of charge. The Dalton Lecture is followed by a reception and a George Fox University research student poster session.

Listen to lectures on iTunes podcast Dalton Lecture 

Due to COVID-19, we will be unable to host the Dalton Lecture in 2021.

Prior Lectures

Climate Change and the Pursuit of Truth in a Post-truth World


Speaker: Dr. Richard L. Lindroth, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Ecology
Title: Climate Change and the Pursuit of Truth in a Post-truth World

Topic: Against a backdrop of climate-change science, Lindroth explored the fundamental premises of science, why they predispose science to dismissal and denial, how humans engage with facts, and how to improve science communication across ideological, cultural and tribal divisions for the betterment of humanity and sake of the world.

Bio: Dr. Richard Lindroth is a Vilas Distinguished Achievement professor of ecology and recent associate dean for research at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. His research focuses on evolutionary ecology and global change ecology in forest ecosystems.

In his years, he has mentored 24 graduate students and 21 postdoctoral scientists. With over 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles and book chapters, he also has research support from NSF, USDA, DOE, and EPA. Rick has also been a Fulbright Fellow and a current Fellow of the Ecological Society of America, the Entomological Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). 

Jesus Christ and Nanotechnology: The impact of faith upon the life of a scientist


Speaker: Dr. Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology University of Cambridge
Title: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe?

Topic: Dr. Morris spoke about his research into evolutionary convergence, the idea that the number of biological adaptations to the environment is very low and the likelihood of something akin to humans evolving elsewhere is relatively high. Despite that, humans seem to be completely alone in the Universe. He spoke about what that means in terms of faith and the relationship between science and God.

Bio: Dr. Simon Conway Morris is a professor of evolutionary palaeobiology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St. John’s College. His principal academic interests are in the Cambrian “explosion” and evolutionary convergence, both of which he addresses in his books: The Crucible of Creation, Life’s Solution and The Runes of Evolution.

Dr. Morris has won various awards, including the Walcott Medal from the National Academy and holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Uppsala and Hull. He is active in public outreach of science and delivered the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1996 as well as the Second Boyle Lecture.

Jesus Christ and Nanotechnology: The impact of faith upon the life of a scientist


Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, Astrophysicist
Title: Universe of Wonder: Galaxies, Stars, Planets, and Life

Topic: Modern telescopes are revealing an incredible dynamic universe, where galaxies and stars support planets and, at least on one planet, life. In this presentation, we will investigate what new discoveries are revealing about the cosmos and the significance of life in a dynamic universe.

Bio: Dr. Jennifer Wiseman is an astronomer, author and speaker. She studies the process of star and planet formation in our galaxy using radio, optical, and infrared telescopes, and is a senior astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She is also interested in national science policy and public science engagement, and directs the program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

She received her BS in physics from MIT, discovering comet Wiseman-Skiff in 1987, and continued her studies at Harvard, earning a PhD in astronomy in 1995. Dr. Wiseman is a Fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation, a network of Christians in Science. She has authored several essays addressing the relationship of astronomy and Christian faith and frequently gives public talks on the excitement of scientific discovery. She grew up on an Arkansas farm enjoying late-night stargazing walks with her parents and pets.

Jesus Christ and Nanotechnology: The impact of faith upon the life of a scientist


Speaker: Dr. James Tour T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering at Rice University Smalley Institute of Nanoscience and Technology
Title: Jesus Christ and Nanotechnology: The impact of faith on the life of a scientist

Topic: Dr. Tour discussed a brief overview of nanotechnology and his coming to faith in Jesus Christ and how this decision impacted his life. He also shared his thoughts regarding evolution and his hope for science and the young.

Bio: James M. Tour has more than 550 research publications and more than 75 patents, with citations totaling more than 55,000. He was named among “The 50 Most Influential Scientists in the World Today” by TheBestSchools.org in 2014; listed in “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” by Thomson Reuters' ScienceWatch.com in 2014; and received the Trotter Prize in “Information, Complexity and Inference” in 2014. He was also named “Scientist of the Year” by R&D Magazine in 2013.

In addition, he was awarded the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching at Rice University (2012); won the ACS Nano Lectureship Award (2012) and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society (2007); and was ranked one of the top 10 chemists in the world over the past decade by a Thomson Reuters citations-per-publication index survey. Tour has won several other national awards, including the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award in Polymer Chemistry and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award in Polymer Chemistry.

The Big Band, Stephen Hawking and God


Speaker: Dr. William Phillips, 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics
Fellow and group leader of the Joint Quantum Institute of the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology
Title: Ordinary Faith, Ordinary Science

Topic: Many conventional scientists are also people with conventional religious faith. As a physicist, Phillips will discuss the ways in which scientific and religious thinking differ and what they have in common, from a perspective affirming that one can be serious about religious faith and about science. He will also consider some questions that are particularly troublesome to a Christian: Why is there suffering if God is good? What about all the terrible things done in the name of religion? What about all the good people who are on a different path of faith than Christianity?

Bio: Phillips is a fellow and group leader of the Joint Quantum Institute of the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. In 1997, he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light, along with Steven Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji. One result of the development of laser-cooling techniques was the first observation, in 1995, of the Bose-Einstein condensate, a new state of matter originally predicted 70 years earlier by Albert Einstein and the Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose. In this state atoms are so chilled and so slow that they, in effect, merge and behave as one single quantum entity that is much larger than any individual atom.

Among his many awards, Phillips has received the 1996 Albert A. Michelson Medal (Franklin Institute), the Presidential Rank Award and the Arthur L. Schawlaw Prize in Laser Science. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a member of the prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Phillips is a Methodist laity and one of many accomplished scientists who speak on the interaction between science and Christianity.

The Big Band, Stephen Hawking and God


Speaker: Dr. Bill Newsome, Harman Family Provostial Professor, Director of Bio-X NeuroVentures and Professor of Neurobiology at Stanford University
Title: Brain, Mind and Free Will: Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?

Topic: Dr Newsome discussed the the recent neuroscience research and the links between neural mechanisms within the brain and human actions, behavior and thought.  He confronted questions about what it means to be human and also the nature of religious belief.  Are we just the sum of our neurons? Does my brain shape me, or do I shape my brain? Is freedom of choice an illusion?

Bio: Dr. Bill Newsome is an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor of Neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Stetson University and a PhD in biology from the California Institute of Technology.

Dr. Newsome is a leading investigator in systems and cognitive neuroscience. He has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying visual perception and simple forms of decision making. Among his honors are the Rank Prize in Optoelectronics, the Spencer Award, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, the Dan David Prize of Tel Aviv University, the Karl Spencer Lashley Award of the American Philosophical Society, and the Champalimaud Vision Award.

His distinguished lectureships include the 13th Annual Marr Lecture at the University of Cambridge, the Ninth Annual Brenda Milner Lecture at McGill University, and most recently, the Distinguished Visiting Scholar lectures at the Kavli Institute of Brain and Mind, University California at San Diego. He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 2000 and to the American Philosophical Society in 2011.

The Big Band, Stephen Hawking and God


Speaker: Dr. Henry F. Schaefer III, Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry Director, Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at University of Georgia
Title: The Big Bang, Stephen Hawking and God

Topic: Dr. Schaefer confronted some questions cosmology seeks to answer, such as “Is the universe eternal or does it have a beginning?” and “Is there knowable existence beyond the known dimensions of the universe?” 

Bio: Dr. Henry F. Schaefer III received a BS in chemical physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a PhD in chemical physics from Stanford University, and has since received 22 honorary degrees in addition to numerous national and international awards. He has published more than 1,400 scientific articles, presented plenary lectures at more than 240 scientific conferences, and spoken at more than 50 universities.

From 1981 to 1997, he was the sixth-most highly cited chemist in the world. His research seeks to develop theoretical and computational methods to understand the movement and function of electrons in molecules and to use those theoretical methods to solve important problems in molecular quantum mechanics.

The Journal of Physical Chemistry published a special issue in honor of Dr. Schaefer on April 15, 2004. In 2009, the journal Molecular Physics published five consecutive issues in honor of Professor Schaefer. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. On March 29, 2012, Professor Schaefer received the SURA Distinguished Scientist Award.

God of Antimatter


Speaker: Dr. Gerald Gabrielse, Leverett Professor of Physics, Harvard University
Title: God of Antimatter

Topic: Dr. Gabrielse introduced his research on antimatter. He addressed questions such as "What role does faith have in a scientist's life?" and "Is there more to our world than science can say?"

Bio: Dr. Gabrielse has won both Harvard's Levenson Prize for exceptional teaching and Ledlie Prize for exceptional research. He is also the recipient of the Lilienfeld Prize and the Davisson-Germer Prize of the American Physical Society, Italy's Tomassoni Prize, and Germany's Humboldt Research Award. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and is currently the chair of the Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics of the American Physical Society.

Dr. Gabrielse has more than 165 scientific publications. The Gabrielse research group conducts a variety of atomic, optical, elementary particle, plasma and low temperature physics experiments. Professor Gabrielse led the international TRAP team that developed the techniques to accumulate antiprotons at energies more than 1010 times lower than previously realized. The international ATRAP Collaboration, also led by Gabrielse, now uses these antiprotons to produce cold antihydrogen atoms, an important step towards comparing antihydrogen and hydrogen atoms via precise laser spectroscopy. Technological spin-offs include a patented solenoid design being used for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ion cyclotron resonance (ICR), along with improved cell designs for ICR.

The Roots of Human Disease


Speaker: Dr. Kent Thornburg, M. Lowell Edwards Chair, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, and Director of the Heart Research Center, Oregon Health & Sciences University
Title: New Science Wrestles An Old Problem: The Roots of Human Disease

Topic: New discoveries in science and technology have opened new windows of opportunity to explore the foundational causes of human disease. Over the past decade, our understanding of the differing roles of the human genetic code and the regulation of gene expression have shown how vulnerabilities for disease arise and are passed from one generation to the next. The emerging picture will ultimately change the practice of medicine in a dramatic way.

Bio: Dr. Thornburg has served on numerous study sections and advisory boards at the National Institutes of Health. He serves on committees and boards for the American Heart Association, the National Children's Heart Foundation and other international bodies.

Dr. Thornburg leads a team of scientists who are studying how mechanical forces alter gene expression in the developing embryo heart. His models are designed to study the roles of shear and wall stresses as signals to developing cardiac structures. His laboratory team also studies fetal heart development and the roles of growth factors and signaling molecules in programming the immature heart and coronary arteries for lifelong vulnerability for disease.

He is the principal investigator on an NIH Program Project Grant entitled "Maternofetal Signaling and Lifelong Consequences;" a training grant for translational research in heart physiology; an RO1 for investigating the role of thyroid hormone on heart development; and an R24 to study placental function in monkeys on a high-fat diet. Dr. Thornburg has published well over 125 papers on pregnancy and fetal development.