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Webinar considers faith of Michael Faraday

December 2020 | by John Tredgett

Michael Faraday, c.1861
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Professor Andy McIntosh recently delivered a webinar exploring the life and faith of 19th century scientist Michael Faraday. The event was hosted by Answers in Genesis UK, which has provided several online talks on creation during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Prof. McIntosh’s own background is in science, having lectured at Leeds University. His infectious enthusiasm for his topic came through: ‘I’ve always had tremendous admiration for Michael Faraday,’ he said.

Using slides, Andy surveyed various events in Faraday’s life. His humble beginnings included binding books in Marylebone, London. A breakthrough into the academic world came after Faraday became assistant to renowned chemist Sir Humphry Davy.

Besides scientific experimentation, Faraday found time to court Sarah Barnard (his future wife) via letters, affectionate extracts of which Prof. McIntosh shared during the webinar.

Faraday proceeded to make landmark discoveries in chemistry and physics. In the 1820s he pioneered the understanding of electromagnetism, and it was largely thanks to Faraday the use of electric motors came about, transforming society.

In adult life Faraday became a strong believer, openly professing Christianity while remaining a respected, successful scientist. The stereotypical ‘conflict’ between science and faith (widely supposed today) was absent from the world of Faraday and his peers.

Faraday’s investigations were governed by the maxim, Follow where the evidence leads. Andy lamented that this approach is wanting among many today who accept the theory of evolution without question.

Andy also noted the tragic irony that today’s Faraday Institute and the annual Faraday Lectures (both platforms for the promotion of evolution) take their name from someone who believed biblical creation.

Andy also drew attention to the delightful fact that electric machines (of a sort) are found in the human body. The ATP synthase enzyme is a tiny electrostatic motor found in all living cells and is vital for life.

It uses a rotational motor mechanism to convert a chemical into energy. The telling implication was that ATP synthase had been divinely designed and installed in the cells of living things long before Faraday’s own discoveries.

Quoting one of Faraday’s biographers, Andy said, ‘Faraday believed that the laws of science are evidence of the existence of God and that the discovery of these laws is a task that has been given by God in order to bring humankind to a greater understanding of the majesty of his design.’

The talk is available at Answers in Genesis’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

John Tredgett