Friend of Science, Friend of Faith: Listening to God in His Works and Word
– Live remote seminars on science and Christian faith now available!
In our increasingly polarized society, science and the Bible are being pitted against each other in unhealthy ways. Many Christians speak of science as an enemy, unwittingly creating stumbling blocks to faith in Christ, diminishing appreciation of the majesty of the natural world, and diverting Christian youth away from careers in the sciences. Seminars by Dr. Davidson are aimed at removing these stumbling blocks, healing the science-faith divide, and recapturing our sense of wonder at God’s creation.
For colleges and universities, a Bible-themed presentation could be coupled with a seminar given in a geology (or related) department deriving from my day job studying hydrogeology and geochemistry. A separate list of science seminar titles is provided after the science & faith titles below.
Contact info: GreggDavidson63@gmail.com
Science & Christian Faith Presentations
Should science influence biblical interpretation?
Many Christians think the answer is No, without realizing the importance an understanding of God’s natural creation has historically played in biblical understanding. The presentation walks participants through the apparent science-Bible conflicts in the days of Galileo, why science was not ultimately a threat to biblical authority, and how our understanding of scripture and science today is better for it.
Sin, death, and the fossil record
Evolution and the biblical flood are set against each other as mutually exclusive explanations for the fossil record, with the question of the timing of death taking center stage. Many argue that death could not have existed before man sinned, but this sense hinges more on human sentiment than biblical mandate. The presentation focuses on the scriptural arguments for material/animal death that preceded man’s sin.
How do we know those dating methods work?
It is often claimed that scientific dating methods are based on untestable assumptions and circular reasoning. This presentation uses an example from the Hawaiian Islands to demonstrate how assumptions get tested and how independent methods can be compared to give confidence that dating methods are reliable.
Varves, tree rings, and carbon-14: putting age models to the test
(A more technical and robust presentation to the question above regarding the reliability of dating methods – lots of graphs.) A series of studies of tree cores from Europe and sediment cores from Lake Suigetsu, Japan, allow a rigorous test of conventional and young-earth models. The test combines carbon-14 measurements from tree rings and varves (annual sediment couplets) to walk stepwise through a series of challenges and confirmations of conventional understanding. God gives us some amazing tools to study the “unobserved past.”
Fossils support evolution! Fossils support creation!
Evolutionary scientists and young earth creationists both claim that the evidence overwhelmingly supports their position. This presentation offers a layman’s summary of what the evidence is, how it is commonly misunderstood, and why the full weight of evidence is not consistent with young earth claims.
ID vs intelligent design
There is a marked contrast between William Paley’s understanding of intelligent design and the modern Intelligent Design (ID) movement. While recognition of design in nature is a good thing and even mandated in scripture, ID incorporates additional layers that are neither biblical nor helpful. By reducing belief to a science, faith is supplanted, and requiring evidence of design to be of a miraculous nature places evidence for God in an increasingly shrinking box.
Half-truths and the mission of the Church
Young earth advocates argue that the natural evidence speaks strongly of a young earth if viewed through a biblical lens. Few in the Church realize the degree to which that evidence is manipulated in presentations, which negatively impacts the witness of the Church to the lost and to its own people.
Young-earth evolutionists? “Taking us back to Egypt”
While most think of young earth organizations as defenders of traditional biblical understanding, few realize how far their views have migrated from traditional or orthodox understandings of the Bible. Leading young earth advocates are now strident evolutionists, differing from conventional understanding only in rates and mechanisms.
Human origins: “In the image of God”
Fossil hominid and genetic studies suggest humanity has a deep and complex history ultimately shared with other organisms. Population geneticists argue it was impossible for all of humanity to have started with a single couple. Is this where the Bible and science completely part ways? Not nearly as much as you might think! There are remarkable points of convergence between scientific and biblical models of understanding that do not relegate Adam and Eve, bearers of the image of God, to the trash bin of history.
“Regular science” Seminar Titles and Descriptions
The evolution of an oxbow lake: changes in sediment infilling rates based on 210Pb, 137Cs, and 14C
Presentation serves as a typical “results of a particular project” and as an example of how problems in research are solved. Bulk sediment fractions are not normally preferred for 14C measurements, but that was the only option at Sky Lake on the Mississippi floodplain. A novel approach had to be developed which turned out to work very well to map dramatic changes in the rate of sediment infilling at different stages from (1) an active river channel, (2) initial cutoff, (3) migration of the river away, and (4) land clearing.
Characterizing flow beneath a levee at flood-stage using water chemistry: sand boils, relief wells, and risk assessment
Sand boils form along a levee when flood waters force flow beneath the levee fast enough to erode sediment and carry it to the surface (called piping). Piping can potentially compromise the structural integrity of a levee, especially where flow pathways erode material close to the surface. In aquifers that are geochemically stratified (common in alluvial aquifers), the chemistry of water issuing from sand boils can be used to differentiate deep and shallow pathways, and characterize the nature of the flow system beneath the levee.
Oxbow lake-wetland systems as sources of aquifer recharge
Groundwater is being mined in many regional aquifers, including the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer, drawing greater attention to the need to understand sources of recharge. There are hundreds of oxbow lakes on the Mississippi River floodplain that hold water, but are not generally thought to be significant sources of recharge. A prolonged dry season followed by a high-water event in Sky Lake, MS, coupled with placement of a high density of monitoring wells, documented significant recharge to the aquifer from downward seepage from both the lake and the adjoining wetland.
Varves, tree rings, and carbon-14: putting young-earth and conventional age models to the test
Young earth organizations insist that assumptions made by conventional dating methods are not testable, and offer alternative models for earth history compressed within a few thousand years. A series of studies of tree cores from Europe and sediment cores from Lake Suigetsu, Japan, allow a rigorous test of conventional and young-earth models. The test combines carbon-14 measurements from tree rings and varves (annual sediment couplets) to walk stepwise through a series of challenges and confirmations of conventional understanding. Note: This is not an anti-Bible talk. It is a “how science works” talk.
Localized oxygenation of saturated wetland sediments created by preferential flow pathways: implications for wetland hydroecology
Saturated sediments rapidly turn anoxic as oxygen demand exceeds oxygen delivery. In the forested wetland of Sky Lake, MS, increases in sediment redox potential were observed at isolated locations as surface water levels increased, contrary to normal expectations. Vertical conduits of higher hydraulic conductivity are created by decomposing roots and fallen trees, allowing zones of oxygenation to exist in otherwise saturated anoxic sediments. These zones may contribute to observed correlations between wetland tree growth and water depth.