Listen: Astrophysicist Dr Jordan Collier chats to Clare Bruce.
If you’ve ever found yourself gazing at a starry night sky, wondering how it all holds together and why, you’re not alone. Mankind has been doing it for centuries.
One Sydney group working to explore those big questions about the meaning of life and the cosmos, is Cross Culture. They’re scientists, students, astronomy buffs, believers, atheists, and everything in between – and they gather four times a year to discuss science, faith, and how they fit together.
This Saturday (September 9) Cross Culture Penrith will host a talk by Dr Luke Barnes, cosmologist and co-author of A Fortunate Universe.
Dr Barnes will speak on the topic of the ‘finely tuned universe’ – a term that describes how our galaxies seem perfectly ‘tuned’ to allow for life to thrive.
It’s a phenomenon that scientists have known about for a long time, and one Dr Barnes attributes to an intelligent creator God.
Debunking the Myth that Science & Faith Don’t Mix
Event organiser Dr Jordan Collier, himself an astrophysicist, explained that Cross Culture was founded to help show people science and faith are not incompatible.
“We saw that a lot of people misunderstand how to fit science and faith together, and whether you can even do so,” he said.“Christians often feel like you have to choose science or belief in God, and people who aren’t Christian also hold this view. It’s easy to feel as though you have to decide between one or the other.
“Being a scientist myself and a Christian I was able to see that’s not true, and you can hold the two together. They inform one another. We started Cross Culture to start that conversation in the public sphere, so people can see that Christians can be intellectual, and we do have a rational faith…an evidence-based faith that fits well together with science.”
A Non-Judgmental Atmosphere
Cross Culture attracts all kinds of people, from Christians to people with no faith at all. Last term’s event was a debate that attracted a very broad audience.
The group organisers work hard to create a non-judgmental environment, where everyone feels free to ask questions and hold to different beliefs.
“Christians can be intellectual, and we do have a rational faith…an evidence-based faith that fits well together with science.”
“We stress that a lot,” said Jordan, “because there tends to be this belief that if you disagree with someone you can’t love them, and to love them you have to completely agree with everything they say. But that’s just not the case. There needs to be very open discussion where we learn from each other and we’re not judgmental.
“Everyone’s still trying to work it out, and none of us have all of the answers. So it’s very much about allowing people to criticially think about these issues, challenging them intellectually, and creating that environment where we can respectfully learn from each other without any kind of judgment.”
The ‘A Fortunate Universe’ event is on Saturday (September 9) at Penrith Observatory, Western Sydney University, on the Great Western Highway at Werrington North, from 7:30 to 9:30pm. All are welcome.
For more details see the Event Page on Facebook.