Thursday, August 05, 2010

My week at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion

I spent the week before last at a Summer Course at the Faraday Institute where I gave a presentation on the importance of medieval science. I had a wonderful time, meeting loads of people who ranged from legendary academics like Ernan McMullin and Simon Conway Morris, to ordinary people who are just interested in the topic of science and religion.

Unfortunately, work commitments prevented me from attending all the talks. But, of those that I did make, the stand out presentations included the following (in no particular order):

Professor Peter Harrison of the University of Oxford, spoke about science and religion in the early modern period and gave a fantastic introduction to the topic. He was particularly interesting on how religious commitments could legitimate and inform scientific investigation.

Professor Jeff Schloss from Westmonst College gave a fascinating talk about the evolution of altruism and the various theories that have been put forward to account for it. His comments on group selection (which I now finally understand) explained how Richard Dawkins has got the wrong end of the stick over this issue. Time for me to revisit David Sloan Wilson's work in this area since I had previously been convinced by Dawkins' critique.

Professor Peter Clark from the University of Lausanne made the case for a physical theory of the mind being compatible with Christianity and the Resurrection. I agree with him that it is compatible, although I’m still something of a dualist myself. But Peter said he thought many Protestant theologians had now accepted a physical mind (what is technically called monism as opposed to dualism) as linking biblical doctrine to modern science most effectively.

These talks will soon be available on the Faraday Institute website as videos. I’ll post a link when they are up.

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1 comment:

Matt said...

From what I've read about him (I never took a class with him) Jeff Schloss has done a lot to reach out to his, mostly Christian, students from my alma matter and churches in the Santa Barbara community to convince them to accept evolution without dumping their faith. He has some good videos on the BioLogos website.