Written by on 12/09/2021





Radio Maria England Science and Faith
Season 2 Episode 1: Reductionism

Broadcasts: Mondays at 11am, Tuesdays at 9pm, Wednesdays at 2am and Saturdays at 5pm

The Science and Faith team are back with a brand new series! We kick off this season with an episode on reductionism. While reductionism has become an accepted term in academia, it is nowhere near to the way people live their lives. One would intuitively think that human existence is more than just physical existence – but where does that inner human desire come from? And is it true or just an illusion?

We also explored whether Biology can be reduced to Physics, to what extent this approach is helpful for Science, what are the limitations of a reductionist way of thinking, and how God fits into this picture. In order to tackle those questions, and many more, we invited 2 guest speakers; Fr Mariusz Tabaczek a Dominican theologian specialising in science-theology dialogue and Professor Wilson Poon, physicist and Professor in Natural Philosophy.

Are we nothing but a bunch of atoms?

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Prof. Wilson Poon
Wilson Poon is professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, which is one of the university’s oldest established chairs. He joined Edinburgh in 1990 after obtaining two degrees at Cambridge and spending a year at Portsmouth Polytechnic. His scientific research interests focus on the behaviour of complex fluids, ‘liquids with bits’ such as paint (the ‘bits’ are pigment particles) and salad dressing (where the ‘bits’ are oil drops). He experiments with very well behaved complex fluids to achieve new understanding of fundamental physics questions such as the conditions needed for the existence of liquids and the nature of glasses. At the same time, he uses the insights derived from such work to solve industrial problems, such as the efficient mixing of powders and liquids to form flowing suspensions, a necessary in diverse manufacturing processes, from chocolates to ceramics. After Poon joined Edinburgh, he helped establish the teaching of ‘science and theology’ at the University’s divinity school, initially offering it as an advanced undergraduate option, and later, partly with support from the Templeton Foundation, as a stand-alone programme at masters level. As part of this programme, he proposed and now jointly teaches an option in ‘science and theology in literature’, approaching the topic through fiction and poetry. Poon’s own interests in the field is focussed on establishing a ‘theology of science’ that takes serious the central event of the Christian faith, namely, the death of Christ on the cross. As part of this interest, he is currently exploring the poetry of R S Thomas, especially the way he brings in science to his exploration of the deus absconditus – the God who is present through absence. Poon has served terms on the Scottish Episcopal Church’s doctrine and liturgy committees, and is a keen amateur pianist.

Fr Mariusz Tabaczek
Polish Dominican, theologian (he holds Ph.D. in philosophical theology from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA and Church Licentiate from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland). He currently works as a professor of theology and researcher of the Thomistic Institute at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He is also a lecturer at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Krakow.

He specializes in the science-theology dialogue and the issues concerning divine action and natural sciences, in particular. He is interested in systematic, fundamental, and natural theology, philosophy of nature, philosophy of science (philosophy of biology, in particular), philosophy of causation, and metaphysics.

He published a number of articles on metaphysics and the issues concerning the relation of theology and science in Zygon, Theology and Science, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Nova et Vetera, Forum Philosophicum, and Scientia et Fides. He is the author of two books: Emergence. Towards A New Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science (2019), and Divine Action and Emergence: An Alternative to Panentheism (2021). He also co-authored two chapters in the second edition (2017) of Science and Religion: A Historical Introduction (ed. by Gary Ferngren).

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