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World Science Festival

A panel of scientists at the World Science Festival in Brisbane discuss whether science and faith can co-exist. Source: World Science Festival.

Reece D’Alessandro, World Science Festival: Can science and faith co-exist?, ABC News, 27 March 2017

Fire and ice, black and white, hot and cold, science and faith.

As part of the World Science Festival, and in front of a vocal crowd, a team of experts bravely delved into the sometimes touchy intersection of science and religion.

The Science and Faith panel discussion at Griffith University’s Conservatorium Theatre, was headed by ABC presenter Dr Rachael Kohn.

“Many modern beliefs about the conflict between science and religion seem to have extended from our history,” she said.

“We live in a world where eight out of 10 people identify with a religion.”

Ms Kohn was joined by Professor AC Grayling, Professor Kenneth Freeman, Dr Zuleyha Keskin, Dr Thomas Aechtner and Professor Peter Bruza.

Professor Grayling said he emphatically believed there was no such thing as a comfortable co-existence between science and religion.

“I did in fact question within myself why I’m actually here,” he said.

With laughter from the audience, he went on to explain how religion had hindered and obstructed the efforts of scientists throughout history.

But Dr Thomas Aechtner disagreed, suggesting a harmony between the two avenues could be possible.

“There may be a religious impetus to do science,” he said.

Dr Aechtner added some people might practice science because “God wanted them to”.

His theory was echoed by Professor Kenneth Freeman, a Christian scientist, studying galactic archaeology.

“I know that God exists, I’ve known that my whole life,” he said.

“I don’t believe there’s a basic conflict between science and religion.”

Professor Freeman concluded by saying the key to progress was communication, but this did not convince Professor Grayling.

“I think religion would do well to keep its hands off science,” Professor Grayling said.

Dr Zuleyha Keskin chimed in with an observation that, “science satisfies the mind, religion satisfies the heart”.

This story is part of a collaboration for the World Science Festival between QUT and the ABC.

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