Posted by Stephen Law on October 30, 2008
Presented by Centre For Inquiry London and South Place Ethical Society
Organized by CFI London Provost Stephen Law
Saturday, 25th April, 10.30am-4pm
A day exploring the relationship between science and religion
Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL.
£10 (£5 for students) BOOK NOW. Send a cheque payable to ‘Center for Inquiry London” to: Executive Director Suresh Lalvani, Center for Inquiry London, at the above address. Alternatively pay by PAYPAL. Use the “Support” link at www.cfilondon.org and follow the instructions.
11-12AM JACK COHEN. Why I believe in evolution – or in Omphalos!
The evidence for evolution converges from at least three directons: from the fossils, from the DNA sequences, and from contemporary examples (Darwin’s finches, African cichlids, bacterial and insect resistance). “Creationism”, or “Intelligent Design” are out because they don’t explain, they haven’t the Authority, and Grand Canyon/Flood ideas are simply absurd. But there are other choices, particularly if you Believe: the Plymouth Brother Philip Gosse wrote “Omphalos” a few years before Darwin’s “…Origin…” (his son Edmund wrote “Father and Son’). The problem is that the rock column is genuinely and persuasively ancient, while the Bible insists on some thousands of years of history. God made Adam mature, with a navel (omphalos) and that’s the clue… It’s such a pretty idea, and makes so much more sense than the standard Creationist’s story! If only there were a God, that’s how It would’ve done it!
Jack Cohen is an internationally known reproductive biologist, who consulted for test-tube-baby and other infertility laboratories, and has worked in Assisted Conception Units. He was reproductive biologist in the Zoology Dept at Birmingham University for thirty years, later in Warwick Maths Institute for five where he was an Honorary Professor. His last position, at Warwick University, bridged the Ecosystems Unit of the Biology Dept and the Mathematics Institute, and his brief included bringing more science to more public awareness – which he still attempts.
12-1pm SIMON SINGH. Big Bang – the gospel according to Monsignor Georges Lemaître
Simon Singh, author of best-selling scientific and mathematical books including Big Bang, Fermat’s Last Theorem and Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial, will talk about the Big Bang model and how science develops its theories. He will also explain how the concept of the Big Bang was initially developed by George Lemaitre, who successfully combined his careers as a cosmologist and a priest.
2-3pm STEPHEN LAW. Empirical evidence against the God hypothesis
Stephen Law is Provost of CFI London, senior lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College University of London, and author of philosophy books including The War For Children’s Minds (about faith schools), The Philosophy Files (for children 12+) and The Philosophy Gym (which includes dialogues such as “The Strange Case of The Rational Dentist” and “What’s Wrong With Gay Sex?”).
Stephen will look at what appears to be powerful empirical evidence against the existence of the Judeo-Christian God, and at how the faithful respond to that evidence.
3-4pm BARONESS MARY WARNOCK. Religion as humanism
Baroness Mary Warnock is one of the Britain’s leading public figures. She is perhaps best known for her recently expressed views on assisted suicide, and her role in the production of the Warnock report – an inquiry into human fertilisation by the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology, which she chaired.
Legal stuff: CFI reserves the right to change or cancel events without notice.