Welcome

The Los Alamos Faith and Science Forum (LAF&SF) is an incorporated 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission to “invite people to join in exploring together the mysteries of faith and science by looking deeply into both”.

We are pleased to announce our fourth summer series, starting on Wednesday, May 31, 6:00-8:00pm at the Fellowship Hall of the Unitarian Church in Los Alamos. The theme for this summer is “Hope: Science, Religion and the Future”. A light dinner will be served at 6pm, a presentation at 6:30pm, large group discussion, and then small group discussions.

Our guest speaker this summer is distinguished theologian John Haught of Georgetown University who will present two lectures on Thursday June 22 and Friday June 23. His lectures are titled “Science, Religion, and Cosmic Purpose” and “Evolution and Faith: What Is at Stake”.

Our summer 2017 series is below. Please join us!

  • Hope, Hopelessness and the Future on May 31, Nels Hoffman
  • Science of Hope on June 7, Gerry Wood
  • Evolution and Hope on June 14, Morrie Pongratz
  • Science, Religion and Cosmic Purpose at 7pm, June 22 at Fuller Lodge, John Haught
  • Evolution and Faith: What is at Stake? at 7pm, June 23 at Fuller Lodge, John Haught
  • Hopelessness on June 28, Bob Reinovsky
  • Looking into the Future on July 12, Dan Winske
  • Technology and Hope on July 19, Chick Keller
  • Religions and Hope on July 26, Rabbi Jack Shlachter and Pr. Nicole’ Ferry

All are welcome to our summer 2017 series.

 

Professor John Haught on June 22, 23

Thursday, June 22, Professor Haught will speak on “Science, Religion, and Cosmic Purpose”. Most issues in contemporary discussions of science and religion come down to the question of whether the universe may reasonably be said to have a purpose. This lecture examines the question of whether the natural sciences are compatible with the widespread religious claim that the universe is here for a reason.

Friday, June 23, Professor Haught will address “Evolution and Faith: What Is at Stake”. In 1859, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) published On the Origin of Species introducing his famous theory of evolution. Biologists today marvel at how well the theory has held up during the last century and a half. This lecture examines the question of the compatibility of contemporary evolutionary biology with religion and specifically with biblical faith.

John F. Haught (Ph. D. Catholic University, 1970) is Distinguished Research Professor, Georgetown University, Washington DC. He was formerly Professor in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University (1970-2005) and Chair (1990-95).

His area of specialization is systematic theology, with a particular interest in issues pertaining to science, cosmology, evolution, ecology, and religion. He has written more than 20 books, including:

  • The New Cosmic Story: Inside Our Awakening Universe (2017);
  • Resting On the Future: Catholic Theology for an Unfinished Universe (2015);
  • Making Sense of Evolution: Darwin, God, and The Drama of Life (2010);
  • God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens (2008);
  • Christianity and Science: Toward a Theology of Nature (2007);
  • Is Nature Enough? Meaning and Truth in the Age of Science (2006);
  • Purpose, Evolution and the Meaning of Life (2004); and
  • God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution (2000; 2nd Ed 2007).

He has authored numerous articles and reviews, and lectures internationally on many issues related to science and religion. In 2002, he won the Owen Garrigan Award in Science and Religion, and in 2004 the Sophia Award for Theological Excellence. In 2008, he received a “Friend of Darwin Award” from the National Center for Science Education.

Annual Meeting

Los Alamos Faith and Science Forum

Notice of

Annual Meeting

 

Sunday

November 6th, 2016

3:00 PM

 

Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church, Sherrill Hall

3900 Trinity Dr. 

Los Alamos, NM 87544

 

Agenda will include:

Election of members of the Board of Directors of LAF&SF

Reports from the Board and Committees

Discussion

Members and Friends are welcome

Members of the Forum may vote in the Board Election

Membership will be available at the meeting

Annual membership is $15.00

Wednesday, July 27: The Whole Person

Scientists, philosophers, and theologians have developed models of humankind that vary from a whole person (monism, only the sum of physical parts) to dualism (body and survivable soul) to tricotomies (such as three parts in the image of a triune God). The emergent property of a “self” separable from the human body and possibly surviving it is recognized as a concept common to some faiths and some sciences.

About our presenter:

Gerry Wood came to Los Alamos after completing a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2004 he retired after 35 years at LANL, working mostly in health and safety areas. Since then he has continued to consult for the CDC, Army, EPA, and private companies. He has been a member of the Los Alamos Church of Christ for 47 years, the last 25 years serving as one of the elders there. He has been involved with the Los Alamos Faith & Science Forum for three years. For more information see GerryOWood.com.

Wednesday, July 20: The Quest for Human Uniqueness

Looking for that which makes us human has taken researchers through many aspects of our human and animal nature, leading us to ask questions about the role of physiology, brain science, genetics, language and symbolic thinking, relationships and cooperation, spirituality, empathy, aggression, and the capacity for anticipation/deferred gratification in making us human. One distinctive, separating human from animals, that is frequently mentioned is the capacity to generate and transmit culture – a broad and imprecise umbrella encompassing everything from anthropology, literature, history, sociology, philosophy to language, fine arts, religion…and more. Making sense of this broad and amorphous assembly of behaviors, some of which are common to humans and animals, and some of which are not, is a formidable challenge. In this talk we will attempt to simplify the topic by looking at the implication of theory of mind – and what some call the secondary theory of mind – in the formation, and transmission of culture.

About our presenter:

Bob Reinovsky, is an elder at White Rock Presbyterian Church, a practicing physical scientist and program manager at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He grew up in the Roman Catholic faith, and adopted the Calvinist view that characterizes modern Presbyterians when he was a young adult.   His interest in exploring the intersection of science and religious faith is rooted in his conviction that these two ways of understanding the world around us do not always lead us to the same place; but do complement each other and together make for a richer understanding of who we are and what we are called to be.

Wednesday July 13 and Thursday July 14: Justin L. Barrett, Thrive Professor of Developmental Science, Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary

Both lectures start at 7pm at Church of Christ, 2323 Diamond Drive, Los Alamos.

Wednesday July 13: From Homo erectus to Homo religiosus

Darwinism has forced a rethinking of the Genesis account of human origins. Given the gradual, continuous character of evolution, the sudden appearance of humans—including their linguistic, cultural, and moral dimensions—together with the capacity and propensity for devotional relationship with God might seem a bit too much to swallow. Surely we are dealing with highly allegorical material. Perhaps. But perhaps, advances in the cognitive and evolutionary sciences and cognitive science of religion in particular give us an opportunity to revisit Darwin and the possibility that in the beginning the first modern humans were also religious humans.

Thursday July 14: When Science “Explains” Religious Beliefs: Basic Approaches and Implications

Attempts by scientists, particularly in the cognitive, neuro-, and evolutionary sciences, to explain why people have the religious beliefs and practices they do have been rejuvenated in recent decades. Part of the enthusiasm over these explanations has been their apparent ability to ‘explain away’ God. In this session, some contemporary explanatory accounts will be described and evaluated in terms of their compatibility with warranted belief in God or gods. The thesis, perhaps surprisingly, is that in some cases cognitive and evolutionary accounts provide additional support for some theological claims and, generally, appear to be little or no threat to traditional views of God, but may help distinguish among competing theological claims.

 About our speaker:
Justin L. Barrett
is Thrive Professor of Developmental Science and
Program Director, Ph.D., Psychological Science (Non-clinical)
in Fuller’s Graduate School of Psychology. He is the Chief Project Developer for the Office for Science, Theology, and Religion Initiatives (STAR) at Fuller Theological Seminary. He came to Fuller from the University of Oxford, where he taught and served as senior researcher for Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind. He has also taught at the University of Michigan and Calvin College, and served as co-area director for Young Life in Lawrence, Kansas. Most of Dr. Barrett’s academic work has concerned cognitive scientific approaches to the study of religion. His current research interests include cognitive, evolutionary, and psychological approaches to the study of religion; cognitive approaches to the study of culture generally; and religious and character development in children and adolescents. Barrett’s publications include Psychology of Religion (ed., 2010), Why Would Anyone Believe in God? (2004), Cognitive Science, Religion, and Theology: From Human Minds to Divine Minds (2011), and Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Belief (2012). He has also published scores of academic articles and book chapters across several disciplines.

Wednesday, July 6: Brain, Mind, Spirit, Soul, Heart: To be human is to be more than a body

Both Revelation and Greek philosophy has posited some ‘extra’ addition to human nature not shared with other creatures. This character later became known as the human soul.  Some have claimed it is both spiritual and immortal. Thomas Aquinas delineated quite well the characteristics of the human soul, all of which have been verified by brain research. But do we really have an immortal soul, or was it just a construct to try to account for complex human abilities? We will consider whether life after death requires a spiritual side of human nature. Finally the talk will review both Scriptural and philosophical understandings and then compare them with neuroscience findings. It will ask what is left when the abilities found in the brain have accounted for most of our behavior. Finally, we will try to detail the most up-to-date studies on what consciousness is.

About our presenter:

Chick Keller, is a Catholic High school graduate of 1957, got an AB in philosophy from St. Vincent Benedictine College, Latrobe PA, in 1961, a BS in Physics and Mathematics from Penn State University in 1964, and PhD in Astrophysics and Astronomy from Indiana University in 1969. He worked at Los Alamos Scientific/National Lab from 1969 to 2001 on computer modeling of high energy underground motions and flows. He served as various group leaders and Director of LANL branch of Univ. of Cal. Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics in 1987-2000. He has studied climate change and global warming for 20 years with several review papers published. Initially, he decided to leave philosophy for science with a goal of getting back to philosophy with a science background. He enjoys reading and subsequent writing on science applied to faith.

Wednesday, June 29: Symbols, Rituals, and Language

Humans use symbols to refer to entities, actions, and concepts that may not be immediately present or available. Symbols make it easier to think and communicate about their referent. We’ll present examples of symbols and rituals (symbolic behavior). Then we’ll consider language, which is a kind of communication that uses symbols. While humanity’s nearest animal relatives are apparently smart enough to use symbols and language if we teach them, they do not do so in nature. We’ll talk about the differences in the ways that animals and humans communicate. And we’ll ask: does religion require symbols?

About our presenter:

Nelson M. Hoffman is a physicist working at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in the Plasma Theory and Applications Group of the Computational Physics (XCP) Division. He earned a B.A. in Physics from Rice University in 1970, and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin in 1974. His research interests are mainly in the areas of laser-driven fusion and plasma physics, currently emphasizing ion-kinetic models for transport in laser-driven capsule implosions, and gamma-ray diagnostics of such capsules. He has authored or co-authored more than 75 technical publications, which have garnered more than 1000 citations. He is a member of First United Methodist Church of Los Alamos. For several years, he has been intrigued by the features of the universe referred to as “cosmological fine tuning,” the origin of life, and the origin of humanity, and their plausible links to the creative acts of the God of the Bible. Recently, he has been studying the history of science, and the ways that Judaeo-Christian theology, together with Greek philosophy and Roman law, played a crucial enabling role in the origin of modern science.