Interface: Faith & Science Lecture Series

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Date(s) - October 16, 2018 - November 28, 2018
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Regent College

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Date: September 18–November 28, 2018
Location: Regent College, 5800 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6T 2E4
Join us this fall for Interface, a lecture series introducing a range of scholars exploring the relationships between theology and the sciences. Speakers include Professors Alister McGrath, Sarah Coakley, Bruce Hindmarsh, Jens Zimmermann, and David Robinson.

Can’t make it out to Regent campus but still want to participate? We’ll be live-streaming all the lectures. Check back here for the live-stream links as the time of the lectures approach. For those unable to tune in live, lecture audio and video will remain  available free of charge on Youtube and Regent Audio.

We are pleased to be able to offer this lecture series free of charge thanks to a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this lecture series are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.


Alister McGrath
Lecture 1: “Science and Faith: Conflicting or Enriching?”—September 18, 7:30–9:30 pm

Professor McGrath, a leading authority in the field, will speak of his own perception of science and religious faith, reflecting on his progression from atheism to Christianity. The lecture will focus on two central ways of understanding the relation of science and religious faith, the “conflict” or “warfare” model, adopted by Richard Dawkins; the second is an “enrichment” model, adopted by McGrath, which holds that the natural sciences and religious faith can complement each other, and seen together, lead to a richer and deeper vision of life.

Lecture 2: “God, Science & the Meaning of Life: C.S. Lewis and Richard Dawkins”—September 19, 7:30–9:30 pm

C. S. Lewis is one of the best-known Christian apologists in the world. Richard Dawkins is one of the best-known atheist apologists in the world. Alister McGrath has written acclaimed studies of each of these fascinating authors. What do they have to say on the meaning of life? How do they understand the role of the natural sciences as we work out the meaning of life? In this lecture, Professor McGrath will dialogue with both writers, exploring their vastly differing opinions.

Sarah Coakley
Lecture: “Is there a Future for ‘Natural Theology?’ Evolution, Cooperation, and the Question of God”—October 4, 7:30–9:30 pm

In recent decades, many have portrayed evolution as a process based solely on genetic selfishness, otherwise devoid of positive structure or meaning. In this lecture, Professor Sarah Coakley draws on recent developments in mathematical biology to outline a richer, multi-levelled depiction. She will argue that the competitive drive of individuals to gain genetic advantage is only one of the explanations for evolutionary cooperation; a fuller understanding of the mechanisms at work indicates a much richer picture, in which selection and cooperation are in constant dialectical play throughout the evolutionary spectrum.

After establishing the biological evidence for these cooperative processes, Coakley will guide us through the philosophical, ethical, and theological implications. This new understanding of cooperation within evolution not only re-opens the vexed question of evolutionary “teleology”, but may be argued to lead toward a natural basis for ethics. It is a short step from here to ask about the future possibilities for a new “natural theology,” though one very different from classic modern forms. More concretely, can this re-evaluation of our ancient evolutionary past enhance our capacity for intentional human cooperation (altruism) in facing our current political, ethical, and ecological crises?

Bruce Hindmarsh
Lecture: “Re-enchanting the Universe: Evangelicals and the Rise of Science”—October 16, 7:30–9:30 pm

The popular idea that Christianity and Science have always been fundamentally in conflict dissolves upon closer historical examination. This is true even for popular Protestant spirituality. The significant evangelical spiritual awakening in the North Atlantic that appeared in the eighteenth century took place among those who were the first generation to accept the basic postulates of Isaac Newton and to embrace the new science. The world of nature was now neither possessed of a transcendent spiritual form (Plato) nor an immanent spiritual form (Aristotle), so how was one to understand the relation of things spiritual and things material? A number of the early evangelicals engaged with this question in a sophisticated way. Jonathan Edwards was a young undergraduate at Yale when Newton’s Principia and Opticks were first taken out of their wooden crates and added to the college library collection, and he studied these works exhaustively. So also John Wesley produced one of the most comprehensive compendia of the period of the latest findings of science. To these can be added a number of other figures over the course of the century—devout poets, artists, practicing scientists, and theologians who responded to the rise of science with “wonder, love, and praise.”

Jens Zimmermann
Lecture: “Who am I? Personhood, Consciousness, and Transhumanist Visions”—November 6, 7:30–9:30 pm

Human consciousness is increasingly understood in technological terms. The transhumanist vision of uploading consciousness into a computer matrix and then eventually downloading one’s personality onto synthetic bodies is only the extreme edge of a popular perception. In this lecture, Professor Jens Zimmermann argues that modern culture embraces a reductive model of human identity and perception based on an already defunct scientific epistemology. Since who we think we are is deeply connected to the how we think we know and perceive reality, this lecture, with the help of theology and personalist philosophy, will offer a more robust model of consciousness that grounds personhood and therefore also human dignity.

David Robinson
Lecture: “Beyond ‘Design’: Evolutionary Biology and a Theology of Preservation”—November 28, 7:30 pm

Appeals to an original “design” in nature have faced significant criticism from both evolutionary biology and Protestant theology since the nineteenth century. This lecture surveys the two most enduring criticisms in order to articulate a theology of preservation fit for the “Anthropocene”—our present age of reckoning with the irreparable effect of human designs on the biosphere.

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