Our summer topics

Astronomer Copernicus, or Conversations with God,  Jan Matejko(1873)

The Summer 2021 series explored a wide range of issues at the forefront of the science-religion intersection. At the first session, we reminded our audience about the mechanics of Zoom. Bob Reinovsky then presented an introduction to, and relationships among, the topics that were presented throughout the summer. The summer series included two talks on the foundations of modern science, two talks dealing with ethics related to science and religion, three talks related to Adam and Eve, and a final lecture on the very timely issue of vaccines.

In 2020, our summer theme was “Are We Making Progress? — Hope, Nature, Sin, and Transhumanism”. The Forum examined the issue of hope in this uncertain age, the relation of religion and ecology, the age-old question of original sin, the problem of evil in light of recent scientific discoveries, the future of humanity in the context of bioengineering advances and ethical issues, and near-death experiences. We also welcomed Rice University professor Elaine Howard Ecklund, who gave an on-line presentation titled “What Scientists think about Religion and the Common Values that Bring Science and Faith Communities Together”. All lectures took place on-line using Zoom, owing to the COVID-19 shutdown.

In 2019, our summer theme was “Are You a Robot? Brain, Mind, Soul”, as we considered the field of neuroscience and the topics of consciousness and free will. Our visiting speaker was  Prof. Warren Brown, psychologist, neurophysiologist, and author at Fuller Theological Seminary.  His two evening lectures were titled “Did My Neurons Make Me Do It? ” and “Contextualizing Neuroscience: The Boundaries of Human Intelligence “ We also heard from Dr. Garrett Kenyon, an artificial intelligence researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In 2018, our summer theme was “Purposeful Evolution?” Our visiting speaker was Dennis Venema, professor of biology at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. His two evening lectures were titled “Adam, the Genome, and Evolution” and “Evolution, Intelligent Design, and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.”

In 2017, our summer theme was “Hope: Science, Religion, and The Future.” The motivation for this theme was our desire to investigate conceptions of “The Future” and examine the basis for hope and optimism, or despair and pessimism, as we find it in science and religion. Our visiting speaker was theologian John Haught, Distinguished Research Professor at Georgetown University. His two evening lectures were titled “Science, Religion, and Cosmic Purpose” and “Evolution and Faith: What Is at Stake”.

In the winter of 2015/2016, we organized a monthly video/lecture series on the topic “What Makes Us Human?”. This was also our topic for the summer of 2016. Our invited speaker that summer was Justin Barrett, Thrive Professor of Developmental Science in the Graduate School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary, who gave two evening lectures, titled “From Homo erectus to Homo religiosus” and “When Science ‘Explains’ Religious Beliefs: Basic Approaches and Implications”.

In 2015, we organized a summer lecture series during June and July using the book Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design, by Deborah Haarsma, president of BioLogos, and Prof. Loren Haarsma of Calvin College, concluding with a visit and three keynote lectures on August 4-6 from the Haarsmas. Their lectures were titled “Evolution and Christianity: Past, Present, and Future”; “God and the Multiverse”; and “God, Evolution and Morality”.

In 2014, the Forum organized our first summer lecture series, consisting of dinner, lecture by a local speaker, and discussion on various topics, for ten weeks. In succeeding summers, we have always incorporated weekly talks by local speakers, centered around a particular theme for each summer. Beyond that, we have broadened our discussion by inviting a visiting speaker of national stature to give evening lectures.