Category Archives: Religion
Thursday 22 August, 5:30pm
Lecture theatre HSB2, the University of Auckland city campus
This event is hosted by the Evangelical Union.
Two of our RSS members, a Rationalist and a Christian, will debate whether we should believe in God.
Peter Harrison is a council member of the NZ Association of Rationalists & Humanists, member of the Reason and Science Society and Coordinator of the Secular Education Network, appearing on Radio Rhema promoting the idea that we should not prescribe religion to children. Peter will argue against the proposition that the Christian God has any more reality than the imaginings of human minds.
Zachary Ardern is a masters student in biology. He has a BA/BSc & PGDipSci, is currently the secretary of the Reason and Science Society, and former president of the Evangelical Union. Zachary will argue that there are good reasons to believe in the Christian God.
Friday 29th March (Good Friday), 5:30pm
Biology Building BLT100
An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design.
Talks to RSS.
About the book: The doctrine of intelligent design is often the subject of acrimonious debate. Seeking God in Science cuts through the rhetoric that distorts the debates between religious and secular camps. Bradley Monton, a philosopher of science and an atheist, carefully considers the arguments for intelligent design and argues that intelligent design deserves serious consideration as a scientific theory. Monton also gives a lucid account of the debate surrounding the inclusion of intelligent design in public schools and presents reason why students’ science education could benefit from a careful consideration of the arguments for and against it.
UPDATE: Here is the audio and handouts from the seminar Dr Monton gave:
Tuesday 21st May, 5:30pm, Arts 1 room 315
We watch a Lawrence Krauss talk/documentary
Physicist Lawrence Krauss considers that the information recoverable by any civilization over the entire history of our universe is finite in an ever-expanding universe.
Sunday 5th May
Shadows Tavern (on campus)
Hosted by Auckland Evangelical Church http://aucklandev.co.nz
Doesn’t science disprove Christianity?
Either way, are you sure? Sure enough to bet your life on it?
At least give one of NZ’s top Physicists a chance to explain how he sees the two as inseparable.
Professor Jeff Tallon is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished physicists, internationally known for research which revolutionised the field of high temperature superconductors.
Current research interests extend to nanotechnology, high pressure physics, and materials science.
Jeff has received numerous awards for his work, including the inaugural Prime Minister’s science prize, the Rutherford medal and the Dan Walls medal for physics. He currently a visiting professor at the Cavendish laboratory, Cambridge University.
He has been a prominent advocate of science education and research in New Zealand and for the compatibility of science and Christian faith.
Here’s a video to watch:
Here’s some reading: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10616394
On Tuesday 26th March we had a presentation by Paul Rishworth on Same-Sex marriage and Religious Exemptions: how New Zealand law and international human rights law interact.
This talk gave an overview of how international human rights law has developed since its origins in the aftermath of World War II, and how that body of law now interacts with New Zealand’s own law. Against that background, the current debate about same sex marriage, and the case for religion-based exemptions from solemnising same-sex marriages, will be explored.
Paul Rishworth joined The University of Auckland Faculty of Law in 1987. His research interests are in the field of human rights and comparative constitutional law, and South Pacific legal studies. His work on the New Zealand Bill of Rights has been widely cited by peers, practitioners and judges. He has worked over the years as a consultant and advisor for government agencies and groups, including the Human Rights Commission, in New Zealand and overseas, on issues ranging from restrictions on hate speech to the autonomy of religious organisations to hire and ordain leaders.
Paul was the Faculty Dean and the Head of the Department of Law 2005-2010. He remains involved in the litigation of civil rights issues in the higher courts and in community organisations. Most recently he presented in person the NZ Law Societies submission to the same same-sex Marriage Bill.
Details of this submission and the NZ Law Societies position can be found here:
A law allowing same-sex couples to marry was passed on Wednesday 17th April
UPDATE: Here is the video from this talk.
Fine tuning the universe: the review
It is frequently suggested that the fundamental laws of physics must be “tuned” to ensure that the universe can permit the existence of life. So we got in Prof. Richard Easther from the department of Physics to discuss some of these purported tunings in cosmology and fundamental physics, ask how they might be explained, and get his take on their implications.
Richard started off with what do we really mean by fine-tuned? There are currently four forces in the standard model of Physics (electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear force and gravity) but could a universe exist with less or more forces? Are the values for these for forces fixed or could they vary? It seems that although we do not know for certain we are getting close! So the question is why do we see a universe like this one? One that is apparently tuned for life.
From one perspective, the universe is not as tuned as we would be lead to believe. Out of the very large volume that the universe contains, only the smallest fraction of it can support life as we know it. If you were an entity creating a universe for life you would think you could tune it to be a little more life friendly. Also the term, “life as we know it”, has an important distinction. If the universe did have a different set of rules which would not allow “life as we know it” to form, there is no guarantee that life would not pop up in another form, a form that could not survive in a universe with our current set of rules. So the question becomes, why the universe has the observed set of rules rather than another.
Well it appears that in quantum physics the multiverse proposed by our favourite sci fi flicks may not be so far off from the truth. String and M theory are models that are predictive in their power to explain the Phenomena that we see in the universe round us.It turns out that many cosmological theories are built on a set of equations that end up predicting multi universes as a natural and necessary by-product of their other predictions. Each of these other universes has its own potentially unique set of rules, some maybe the same, some just slightly different rules to our universe. To be clear, a new one is not created every time you make a choice, rather normal quantum fluctuations start the inflation of a new universe at another location. If these happened close to our own universe just after our own big bang we may even get to see their impacts on the cosmic microwave background but we will have to stay tuned for that.
Just as we may have asked the question a 1000 years ago, “Why is our world so fine tuned for life?” and the answer being “it is not, it is just one of many possible planets” we are now getting to understand that the answer is the same for our universe. It is not.
Dr Bill Cooke will be speaking with us next week about the Christ myth theory- that Jesus was not a historical person, a theory not uncommon among skeptics.
Dr Cooke, an atheist and a skeptic himself, will be arguing against this theory, arguing that Jesus is a real historical figure. He has previously given a talk on Jesus from a historical perspective available here:
This event will take place at 5:00 on Tuesday, 2 October in the Arts 1 building, room 206-209.
UPDATE: The audio from this talk can be found here:
We will be holding a group discussion on whether to legalise gay marriage. Speaking against the law change will be Zachary while supporting gay marriage will be Joshua. The discussion will be moderated by Talia.
Each side will give a 10 minute opening statement and 10 minutes of questions for the opposing side. There will then be a general group discussion or question time until 7:00.
This event will take place at 5:00 in room 206-209 of the Arts 1 building on Tuesday 18th September.
UPDATE: You can view the debate here:
Dr. Bill Cooke, an atheist and skeptic, talks about Jesus from a historical perspective. Dr. Cooke holds that Jesus was a real historical figure whose life is misunderstood by most Christians. The talk was presented at a Reason and Science Society meeting on Thursday 16 September 2010 at the University of Auckland