Summer 2019

In the summer of 2019, the Los Alamos Faith and Science Forum asked:
Are You a Robot? Brain, Mind, Soul

Are you a robot? If you use the internet at all, you may have been asked whether you are a robot. Many web sites do this, trying to protect against spurious account creation. On one level, it’s an easy question to answer — no, you’re not a robot, you’re a flesh-and-blood human.

But on another level, it’s more difficult. Can we be sure our behavior is not programmed by our genes, life experiences, instincts, and habits — to say nothing of our addictions and psychoses? How free are we, really?

The Los Alamos Faith and Science Forum organized weekly presentations during June and July 2019, as our speakers considered these questions. This was the schedule of presentations:

2019 Summer Schedule
Are You a Robot? Brain, Mind, Soul

Unitarian Church of Los Alamos, 1738 N Sage Loop, Los Alamos, NM
(all times are 6 PM, all dates are Wednesdays, unless otherwise specified)

June 5 Are You a Robot? The Questions – Bob Reinovsky
June 12 Consciousness: Material or Immaterial? – Chick Keller
June 19 Neuroplasticity: How the Mind Changes the Brain – Nels Hoffman
June 26 Neuroscience and Emotions – Bob Fuselier
July 3 — No meeting this week —
July 10
(7 PM)
Did My Neurons Make Me Do It? Prof. Warren Brown, Fuller Theological Seminary
July 11
(7 PM
Contextualizing Neuroscience: The Boundaries of
Human Intelligence
Prof. Warren Brown, Fuller
Theological Seminary
July 17 The Emperor Has No Brain: The reality of AI and
the illusion of intelligence
 – LANL researcher
Garrett Kenyon
July 24 Evil: Is Anyone Responsible? – Gerry Wood
July 31 Miracles: Divine Free Will – Dan Winske

During these sessions, we looked at the phenomenon of consciousness, the progress and discoveries of neuroscience in showing how the brain works, and whether we as humans possess free will and moral responsibility. We considered the mind and the soul, and asked what it means to be made in the image of God. We examined how emotions affect us, and how our brains change throughout life, in response to our experiences and thoughts. Speaking of free will, we took up the topic of evil — what it is, where it comes from, and who if anyone is responsible. And we thought about the role of miracles in all of this, and why God might be interested in creatures of flesh and blood. In July, we heard two lectures by visiting speaker Prof. Warren Brown, a psychologist, neurophysiologist, and author at Fuller Theological Seminary, on his research and writings. We also heard from Dr. Garrett Kenyon, an artificial intelligence researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Location and times

All sessions took place at the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos, 1738 N Sage Loop, Los Alamos, NM. On most evenings, we began with a light supper at 6 PM in the Fellowship Hall, with the presentation starting at 6:30 PM, followed by questions and table discussions. The exceptions were on Wednesday and Thursday the 10th and 11th of July, when no supper was served, and our visiting lecturer Prof. Warren Brown spoke in the Sanctuary beginning at 7 PM. We did not meet on Wednesday 3 July. 

Prof. Warren Brown spoke to a meeting of the Los Alamos Faith and Science Forum on 10 July 2019