Scientists

2019 European Scientists Network

The European Science Network is committed to two main purposes: (1) Increase the praise of God the Creator-Saviour through what humans study and know in His creation (Col 1:16): (2) Put scientific findings in the context of His Word so that what we know about His creation will not obfuscate our knowledge of Himself (2 Cor 10:5).

In order to achieve its purposes, the European Science Network is geared to serve two kinds of audiences: (1) Scientists and Christians interested in science will obtain the knowledge, language, and courage to do science and speak about science within the framework of a Bible-informed Christian understanding of the cosmos. (2) Christians of all backgrounds will be helped to understand and interact with scientific findings and claims in a way that is truly apologetic, integrating scientific facts into the Christian worldview in an affirmative, active way rather than only defensively and reactively. At the same time, the demarcation lines will be demonstrated between scientific facts and their interpretation by naturalistic vs. Christian worldviews. We do not shy away from sensitive subjects like the evolution debate and ethical implications, engaging in constructive, respectful discussions.

 

NETWORK LEADERS

Alexander Fink is Director of the Institute for Faith and Science (Institut für Glaube und Wissenschaft) in Marburg, Germany (www.iguw.de). He studied physics at the universities of Bayreuth and St. Andrews (UK) and received his PhD at the Institute for Biophysics at the University of Regensburg. After having worked as an industrial product manager, he became director of SMD graduates' ministry (Akademiker-SMD, the German branch of IFES) until 2014. His passion is the dialogue of science, faith, and worldviews. Hence he founded the Kepler-Forum in Regensburg, coorganising the annual Regensburger Symposium (www.regensburger-symposium.de) at the University of Regensburg. Since 2008 he has been a member of the ELF Steering Committee and has co-led the Scientists Network. Together with his wife, Alexander enjoys raising his two children.

 

Peter Imming received degrees in pharmacy and chemistry and a PhD and venia legendi in pharmaceutical chemistry from a German university. He has been involved in drug chemistry teaching and research in Germany, the UK, China, and other countries. Currently, he is head of the pharmaceutical chemistry department of a German university. His research focuses on the design and synthesis of new drug substances and on molecular mechanisms of drug action. He has a strong interest in the relation of science and Christian faith, frequently lecturing on related topics by invitation of universities, churches, and schools.

 

NETWORK SPEAKERS
 

Ralf Bergmann received his degree in physics and a doctorate from German universities. He is or has been involved in topics such as solid-state physics, semiconductors, photovoltaics and optical technologies at several research institutions in Germany and Australia and has also worked in industrial research. Currently he is a professor at a German university and head of a research institute working on optical technologies and optoelectronics. Beyond his research, he is interested in defending the reasonability of Christian faith, especially all around the triangle of physics, philosophy, and theology and the relevance of Christian faith for modern western society.

 

Kay Carter is Director of Communications at Tyndale House, an academic institute for biblical understanding, where she supports researchers to speak about their work in a way that cuts through the academic/popular divide and captures the public imagination. Kay has a background in journalism, including as a staff member of The Sunday Times in London and as founding editor of The Difference magazine, which examined political issues through the lens of Christian ethics. She has a long-term interest in religious freedom and has worked as a lobbyist for organisations that represent persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Before joining Tyndale House, she ran the secretariat for the British All Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief.

 

Przemyslaw Chmieleck is currently working in the IT industry as an enterprise server administrator and cloud engineer in Krakow and as a lecturer at the Higher Baptist Theological Seminary in Warsaw, where he teaches logic and epistemology. He also offers applied IT and science consulting through his company TechBrain (http://technbrain.pl). He is trained in a few areas of knowledge: philosophy of science (PhD degree), IT programming (MSc Eng. degree), cognitive science (MA degree), penology (MA degree) and sociology. He has written more than 35 papers, including book translations, published in international scientific journals, mostly in English, and has spoken at more than 30 conferences in Europe and the USA. He is scientifically interested in (meta)scientific bases, epistemology, higher education, science and technology studies, brain- and neuro- studies regarding technological growth, machine learning and artificial intelligence. He is married to Ann, and they have three children: Kate, Thomas, Daniel.  

 

David Glass is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Ulster University in Northern Ireland, where he is part of the artificial intelligence research group. He has a BSc in mathematics, MA in philosophy, and PhD in theoretical physics from Queen’s University, Belfast. His current research lies at the intersection of computer science, mathematics, and philosophy of science, and he has published many papers on a range of topics including probability, evidence, and explanation. He has also carried out research on the relationship between science and belief in God and has given many academic and popular talks on various aspects of this topic. He is the author of Atheism’s New Clothes (IVP/Apollos), and contributes to the apologetics website www.saintsandsceptics.org. David and his wife Cathy have six children and live in Greenisland in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

 

Andy McIntosh now retired from the University of Leeds, holds a visiting chair in Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory, and is adjunct Professor at Mississippi State University. He has lectured and researched in these fields for over 30 years. He has a PhD in Combustion Theory from the Aerodynamics Department of what was then Cranfield Institute of Technology (now Cranfield University), a DSc in Applied Mathematics from the University of Wales and worked for a number of years at the Royal Aircraft Establishment. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, the Institute of Energy, the Institute of Physics, and the Royal Aeronautical Society. A chartered mathematician and engineer, and author of over 195 papers, articles, and patents, his work has included the study of the interaction of acoustics and combustion. His work has also included the investigations into the fundamental link between thermodynamics and information, and he has been involved in the area of biomimetics where the minute combustion chamber of the bombardier beetle has inspired a novel spray technology. He now lectures widely on origins, and has authored the book Genesis for Today (Day One, 6th Edition, 2017), Genesis 1-11 – a verse by verse commentary (Day One, 2016), Wonders of Creation – Design in a fallen world (with Stuart Burgess and Brian Edwards, Day One, 2017), and contributed to the books In Six Days (Master Books, 2009), Should Christians Embrace Evolution? (IVP, 2009), and Origins – Examining the evidence (Truth in Science, 2011). He is co director of the UK education think tank Truth in Science and married, with 3 children 

 

Jeremy Peckham has spent much of his career in the field of Artificial Intelligence, and latterly, as a businessman and entrepreneur.  He worked as a government scientist at the UK Royal Aircraft Establishment and later moved to Logica, an international software and systems integration company. He founded his first company in 1993 and launched a successful public offering on the London Stock Exchange in 1996. Jeremy is now a technology entrepreneur, having helped to establish several high-tech companies over the last 20 years, where he has served as founder and interim CEO, Chairman, or non-executive director. He set up and is Chairman of The Fraser Peckham Trust (a grant-giving foundation), Give a Kid a Life (a child sponsorship charity), and Africa Rural Trainers Trust (a Kenyan based Trust: www.africaruraltrainers.org).  Jeremy has served in lay leadership as a deacon and also as an elder for many years at Eden Baptist Church, Cambridge, UK.  He is passionate about developing and mentoring the next generation of leaders.  Jeremy is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts and 1st class honours graduate in Applied Science.

 

 

NETWORK PROGRAMME

Day 1

Is AI Indeed an Intelligence?
Przemyslaw Chmielecki

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is penetrating more and more areas of our life. But what is AI and how is it technically implemented? This talk will present the technical principles of AI in the current state and discuss some predictions for the future. The discussion will be based on the analysis of mechanisms working in the backend of AI. Nowadays AI has become a buzzword which is commonly presented as a ready-to-use solution, but in fact, the AI development process seems to be in the early stages. Furthermore, Machine Learning, which is used for searching frequent patterns and for some implementation of Predictive Analysis in the area of Big Data, is frequently misunderstood as advanced AI; those areas will also be distinguished and explained. Finally, we will look at the server (cloud) background of some popular "AI-like” products and some implementations of AI fundamentals in video games.
 

Joint session with the Academic Network:
Obstacles and Strategic Opportunities for Apologetics in Academia
Ralf Bergmann

In a post-Christian Europe we face a twofold challenge of intellectual and emotional deception. The first creates a false alternative between a “scientific” worldview and the Christian faith, and the second creates a false alternative between a “progressive” mindset opposed to an apparently suppressive, fearful, and outdated Christianity. Even many Christians are emotionally and mentally immobilized by adopting secular worldviews while they try at the same time to argue the case for Christianity within the mental paths determined by these views. The challenge is therefore to understand and overcome a misleading mindset as well as the corresponding emotional obstacles. In order to strengthen Christian students and academics, we need Christians on all levels of academic life who model the freedom of Christian thinking, encourage others on a personal level, identify and tackle structural, institutional, or political barriers, share best practice experiences, and finally initiate ideas that work in a given environment. This talk will give some examples and seek to encourage a stimulating discussion.

 


Day 2

AI and the Future of Civilisation
Jeremy Peckham

The late Stephen Hawking declared that AI could be the “worst event in the history of our civilization” and Elon Musk has stated that "AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization."  This talk looks at the ethical issues surrounding the current and future capabilities of AI, particularly in relation to its widespread uptake across many fields such as medicine, finance, justice, family care, transport, and security and by organs of State.  While AI systems can be trained on vast amounts of data to outperform humans on many classification and learning tasks thus becoming the de facto “experts,” there are inherent technical vulnerabilities.  We argue that whilst AI is limited and is unlikely to approach the consciousness, reasoning, and abstraction that defines humans any time soon, if ever, the greatest challenge to society lies not in AI becoming super human but rather society becoming subservient to machines and giving up our humanity. We conclude by formulating a Christian worldview response to these challenges.

 

AI and Human Uniqueness: Are We Just Sophisticated Computing Machines?
David Glass

AI has made a lot progress in recent years, but could it ever achieve intelligence equivalent to humans or become conscious? And what are the implications of this for how we think about ourselves? Could AI undermine human uniqueness by suggesting that we are nothing more than sophisticated computing machines? To address these issues, I will look briefly at the Turing Test before going on to explore arguments for a) the claim that AI is insufficient for consciousness, and b) the related but distinct claim that there is a non-physical dimension to the mind. In the final part of the talk, I will explore the relevance of these issues for evaluating worldviews by considering briefly how they might lead us to a view of human uniqueness that presents a challenge for naturalism, but is consistent with the Christian view that we are made in the image of God.

 


Day 3

Panel Discussion: What Christians should think about AI
Przemyslaw Chmielecki, Jeremy Peckham, and David Glass and moderated by Peter Imming and Alexander Fink

After listering to three talks that highlight different aspects of AI, we will engange in thorough discussion first with the speakers, then within the whole Network while trying to answer open questions and exploring opportunities AI offers for the communication of Bible-inspired life in our times.
 

Joint session with the Academic Network:
Effective Media Communication for Academics
Kay Carter

Engaging with media can be challenging for any academic, but Christian scholars seeking to be salt and light to media audiences face an additional layer of complexity. This is a practical session focusing on interview dos and don’ts, handling of hostile questioning, and how to introduce faith issues in an engaging way through the framework of our academic discipline. We will also look at the questions “What makes effective messaging?” and “What makes a successful interview from the journalist’s perspective?”


Day 4

The Fingerprint of Intelligence: Thermodynamics and Information
Andy McIntosh

The talk shows the impossibility of information arising without intelligence by considering the principles of thermodynamics of open systems. We explore the connection between information and thermodynamics and show that functional information is neither matter nor energy. To do this we consider the concept of information and define carefully the definition of a machine using the laws of thermodynamics. We go on to consider the realm of living systems. The functional complexity of these systems is clearly heavily dependent on the material environment in which such a system is operating, and indeed uses all the same chemical and physical laws that are used to such good effect by any man-made machines. What though are the laws that such information systems must inherently obey for natural systems? Can one quantify the organisational structure of these information procedures which use the matter and energy of the hardware in any real system? One of the major implications is that non-material information constrains the energy and matter which it uses, rather than the notion that matter and energy will themselves produce information. We show that just as there are laws of thermodynamics, there are important principles governing information exchange. John 1:1 states “In the beginning was the Word” - Scripture teaches that Intelligence comes before matter, and living systems demonstrate this principle. They are truly the fingerprint of Intelligence.
 

How to Integrate Science in a Christian Worldview
Alexander Fink and Peter Imming

We will discuss the implications and challenges this week’s learning will have on our ministries and refer to previous experiences - positive and negative - we have personally had or encountered.  What specific steps can we take at home? Which resources can we use and share? What would help us as scientists to be effective messengers for Christ in our context? How can we motivate more Christian scientists to participate in this process?

 


 

 

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