John is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Monash University where he was a member of the Physics Department for 36 years and Head of Department from 1991 to 1999. He is author, co-author or joint-author of around 200 scientific publications, and author of Transition Ion Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (OUP 1990). He won the 1998 Bruker Prize for EPR Spectroscopy and was Bruker Lecturer. He was president of The Australian Institute of Physics (1999-2000), of The International EPR Society (1999-2002) and of ISCAST (2006-9). John presented two lectures to the Faraday Institute Workshop, Cambridge 2007. He participated in Science-Faith: the Intersection, Darwin Celebration, St Paul’s Cathedral (Feb 2009); he preached at the inaugural Science Week Service, St Paul’s Cathedral (Aug 2009); he was a guest at the Archbishop’s Conversation, Federation Square, Oct 2009 with Robyn Williams (ABC Science Show) on Faith, Science & Atheism. He was Deputy Chair, Melbourne Anglican Diocesan Committee on Christianity & Atheism (2010-2012), a member of the Editorial Board, Science & Christian Belief; the convenor, Science & Religion Forum, Melbourne College of Divinity Centenary (July 2010), the chairman, Melbourne Anglican Diocesan Committee on Education (1985-1990) and a member of the Anglican General Synod (1985-1992).
Description: It is not only New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins who proclaim that science is the only sure path to knowledge (scientific materialism or scientism), but is often the default position adopted by those who, it will be argued, haven’t thought through the issues.
I shall refer to the excellent recent monograph Beyond Matter: Why Science Needs Metaphysics by Roger Trigg, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, which articulates a sound philosophical response to attacks on reason in science, particularly from scientism and post-modernism. This book is not a Christian apologetic, as might have been expected, but rather was aimed at exposing the weakness of scientific materialism of the New Atheists. To Triggs, “science without metaphysics flounders, as if lost in a vast and featureless ocean. It loses all sense of direction and purpose.”
I shall argue that the many metaphysical assumptions relating to science addressed by Trigg’s book are consistent with what scientists actually assume either explicitly or implicitly and which I have spoken about myself many times during the past decade. The two main assumptions are: (1) The universe is rational and ordered, hospitable to human reason and amenable to empirical enquiry; and (2) The physical reality that science investigates is distinct from us and exists independently of whether we observe it or not. In order to place Trigg’s arguments in a Christian context, I shall argue that the following metaphysical assumption is fundamental: That all forms of human enquiry obtain their legitimacy from God, the ground of all being. Clarity concerning these issues is of paramount importance for us today.My reviews of Beyond Matter: Why Science Needs Metaphysics may be found in The Melbourne Anglican, July 2016, p. 20, and a slightly longer version at http://www.iscast.org/journal/book_reviews/Pilbrow_J_2017-04_Review_Trigg_on_Metaphysics.pdf
 EPR – electron paramagnetic resonance which is the branch of magnetic resonance concerned with electron resonances while NMR and MRI involve resonances of atomic nuclei.