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Seminar Series: Christian Perspectives in Science (2006-2007)

*Events with an asterix are not part of the CPiS seminar series, but should be of interest to many attenders of CPiS seminars.

Schedule

September 15, 2006

"Is There a Purpose in the Living World? Some Thoughts about Creation and Emergent Evolution"

Jaap Klapwijk, Free University in Amsterdam
Abstract
I feel it is objectionable to say that God created through evolution, but we can say that God created a world that is characterized by evolution.  In such an evolutionary world, full of chance variations and natural selection, is there place for a purpose?  Evolution implies an element of continuity and of discontinuity.  To understand this, the notion of emergent evolution is helpful. In an evolutionary development there is not just a continuous line.  Phenomena with an element of discontinuity and irreducible newness can emerge.  Life, for instance, is a phenomenon that emerges at a new organizational level: a biotic level.  But in the living world we can also speak of a vegetative, a sensitive and a mental level.  These levels are idionomous, i.e. each is governed by special laws that, in some way, represent God's creation ordinances.  Evolution is not without chance and randomness.  But in so far as it is embedded in a hierarchy of organizational levels and oriented to divine laws it is directional, and we might speak of purpose in the living world.
Recordings and related resources
audio recording (.wma)

September 29, 2006

"Outdoor Experiences for the Young and Young at Heart"
Cheryl Hoogewind,Calvin Ecosystem Preserve Manager, Calvin College
Abstract
When was the last time you spent an hour or more outdoors enjoying God's creation?  People are spending more and more time indoors keeping busy with computers, televisions, Xboxes, video games, Ipods, and many other kinds of technology.   We are over-scheduling our lives with organized sports, music lessons, and school activities of all kinds.  Richard Louv poses some interesting questions in his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.  What is happening to our children and ourselves because we are not spending time in nature?  What is capturing our attention?  There are simple ways to give children outdoor experiences in their own backyards and to encourage wonder and creativity.  In this seminar, I will share my ideas and give suggestions about how we can avoid "nature-deficit disorder."
Downloads:
powerpoint slides
audio recording first half (.wma)
audio recording second half (.wma)

October 12, 2006*

"Evangelicals and Climate Change"

Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., Executive Director, Evangelical Environmental Network

October 27, 2006

"Human Origins: Scientific Theories and Christian Theologies"

John Cooper, Professor of Philosophical Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary
Abstract
This presentation attempts a general mapping of the various positions on creation and evolution held by Christians.  It identifies three main readings of Genesis 1-3 (literal-historical-theological, literary-historical-theological, and literary-theological), three main theological paradigms of redemptive-history (Augustinian, Neo-platonic, and Modernist), and four theories of human origins (recent creation, progressive creation, biological evolution, anthropological evolution).  The presentation then explores the implications, convergences, and tensions among these positions.  This is the overview I present to students at Calvin Seminary before locating the position taken by the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church.  Dialogue and criticism are welcome.
Recordings and related resources
handout from speaker
(audio recording unavailable due to technical glitch)

November 3, 2006

"What is a Number? Augustine's Philosophy of Mathematics"
Jim Bradley, Mathematics Department; Director of Assessment & Institutional Research, Calvin College
 
Abstract
In De Libero Arbitrio, Augustine of Hippo presents an argument for the existence of God. Because the argument depends in an essential way on mathematics, Augustine expands at some length on its nature. This talk will examine the implications of his views for the four classical questions of the philosophy of mathematics: In what sense are mathematical assertions true?  What is the nature of mathematical objects, for example, numbers?  Since such objects seem immaterial but we are material beings, how do we acquire knowledge of them?  How do we account for the astonishing effectiveness of mathematics in describing the physical world?  Also, Augustine's views on mathematics have implications for many other questions.  If there is time, this talk will address two in particular: How are we to understand God's freedom? And how are we to understand the nature of logic?
Recordings and related resources
powerpoint slides
audio recording (.wma)

November 10, 2006

"The Realm of Ghosts: Sickness and Death in the Early Holland Colony"
Dr. Jan Peter Verhave, Visiting Research Fellow, Van Raalte Institute, Hope College; and microbiologist at the Radboud University Medical Centre of Nijmegen, the Netherlands
Abstract
While at the Van Raalte Institute, Dr. Jan Peter Verhave is doing research on the state of health of the early Dutch immigrants and their vulnerability to certain diseases, as derived from reports on their physical well-being in letters to family and friends in the Netherlands.  Particularly during the first few years the settlers suffered a lot, and the poor living conditions triggered some fatal diseases. Epidemic diseases came, as well as the naturalization trial: the Michigan ague.  Dr. Verhave is a microbiologist at the Radboud University Medical Centre of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and is an authority on the history of malaria and tropical diseases.  In addition, he has an interest in religious and social matters of nineteenth century Netherlands and has dug up a collection of letters to immigrants in Iowa, which recently appeared in Iowa Letters (2004). He has published a book and significant articles on church history and on the issue of religion and vaccination.
Recordings and related resources
audio recording (.wma)

November 17, 2006

"Intelligent Design on Trial"

Edward B. DavisProfessor of the History of Science, Messiah College
 
Abstract
Dr. Davis, who attended the Dover trial and who has published several articles about science and religion in modern America, will provide an overview of the "intelligent design" issue.  He will explain some of the main ideas associated with intelligent design, discuss the political and educational goals and strategies of the intelligent design movement, and comment on the recent Dover School District trial.
Downloads:
powerpoint slides
audio recording (.wma)

December 1, 2006

"The Search for Extra-terrestrial Life"
Larry Molnar and Loren Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College
Abstract
As of now, there is no evidence of life beyond earth.  But within the last decade, astronomers have discovered over a hundred planets in other solar systems, and they are on the verge of being technically capable of detecting earth-like planets (if any exist) in nearby star systems.  In this talk, we will review the current status of the search for extra-solar planets, as well as the search for life beyond earth in our own solar system.  We'll also review current hypotheses, both scientific and theological, for how life first arose on earth.  Then we'll turn to the question:  If extraterrestrial life - even single-celled life – was discovered, what would be some of the scientific and theological consequences?
Downloads
powerpoint slides
audio recording (.wma)

February 2, 2007

"Epiphany for a Small Planet: Christology, Astronomy, and Mutuality"

Alan Padgett, Professor of Systematic Theology, Luther Seminary. Crosson Fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Religion at Notre Dame University, 2006-2007
Abstract
Does the new picture of the vast cosmos we learn from science change our theology?  What difference would alien intelligent life make to our Christology?  After presenting a "mutuality" model for the relationship between theology and natural sciences (as developed in my 2003 book) I will explore these questions, using astrobiology and Christology as my example of mutuality.
Co-sponsor
co-sponsored by Calvin Philosophy Department
Recordings and related resources
powerpoint slides
audio recording (.wma)
 

February 9, 2007

"De ordine creationis: a theological approach to the nature of mathematical reasoning"

Jim Turner, Mathematics & Statistics Department, Calvin College.
Abstract
In the history of ideas, our view of the world as structured mathematically can be traced back to the 17th century rationalists, particularly to Descartes and his relocation of certainty as grounded in the divine mind to certainty as grounded in the personal cogito.  In this talk, we will speculate on what the nature of mathematical reasoning would be once the ground of certainty is returned to the divine mind.  Here we will follow the thought of the two contemporary 13th century giants of theology: Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure.
Recordings and related resources
powerpoint slides
audio recording (.wma)
 

February 22, 2007

"Naturalism, Nanotechnology, and Our "Post-human" Future: A Reformed Perspective"

Charles Adams, Dean of the Natural Sciences and Professor of Engineering, Dordt College;
Association of Reformed Institutions of Higher Education (ARIHE) Lecturer, 2006-2008.
Abstract
Advances in technology at the end of the twentieth century have provoked some scholars to predict a future where humans and computers merge to evolve an immortal, post-human "life form" that is free and capable of defining its own "nature."  Others react against such "brave new world" scenarios with horror at the prospect of "losing our essential humanity."  What does it mean to be human?  What are the limitations and the potential of technology with respect to shaping our humanity?  This lecture will begin to offer answers to those questions by contrasting a Reformed Christian worldview with the worldviews of naturalism and by suggesting how elements of naturalistic worldviews have too often corrupted Christian worldviews on science and technology.
Sponsors
Co-sponsored by Calvin Engineering Department, the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, andSeminars in Christian Scholarship.
Recordings and related resources
powerpoint slides
audio recording (.wma)

February 23, 2007

"Teaching "Technical Courses" from a Christian Perspective: A Reformed Approach to Pedagogy"

Charles Adams, Dean of the Natural Sciences and Professor of Engineering, Dordt College; Association of Reformed Institutions of Higher Education (ARIHE) Lecturer, 2006-2008.
Abstract
Christian education in the Reformed tradition claims to bring a distinctive worldview to bear on every subject in the curriculum.  Yet Christian teachers struggle to "teach Christianly" in areas such as the natural sciences, mathematics, and technology.  How does a Christian teacher avoid the near hypocritical practice of simply "sprinkling" prayer or a few Bible verses onto an otherwise secularist curriculum or lesson plan in order to call it "Christian?"  This lecture will suggest how teaching (mathematics, natural science, or any subject that might be called "technical") from a Christian perspective ought to and can be distinguished from the kind of teaching that occurs in a secular environment.
Sponsors
Co-sponsored by Calvin Engineering Department, Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, andSeminars in Christian Scholarship.
Recordings and related resources
powerpoint slides
audio recording (.mp3)

February 24, 2007* (at Grand Valley State University)

"Body, Mind, and Spirit: Emerging Perspectives in Science and Religion."*
Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor of Theology at Claremont School of Theology; Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Claremont Graduate University
(Keynote lecture of the Grand Dialogue in Science and Religion Annual Conference.)


March 27, 2007*

"Scripture, God and Time"*
Brian Leftow, Professor, Oxford University
Co-sponsor
Calvin Philosophy Department2007 Jellema Lectures


March 28, 2007*

"Creation ex Nihilo"*
Brian LeftowProfessor, Oxford University
Sponsor
Calvin Philosophy Department2007 Jellema Lectures


April 20, 2007*

"Public health issues surrounding factory farms."*
Michael Greger, M.D.physician, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States
Sponsors
Sponsored by Farms Without Harm, in conjunction with the Calvin College Philosophy and Biology Departments