Calvin College

Christian Perspectives in Science
Seminar Series

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

This seminar series explores interactions between Christian faith and scholarship in the natural and applied sciences.  A schedule of future seminars (and a list of past seminars) is given below.  Seminar topics vary over a range of interdisciplinary issues, drawing insights from religion, philosophy, astronomy, geology, biology, biotechnology, chemistry, physics, engineering, nursing, mathematics, computer science, psychology, sociology, history, and other departments and programs. 

Time and place:  Seminars are typically held several Fridays per semester, 3:30-4:45 p.m., at Calvin College in Science Building room 110, unless otherwise noted. (See the "abstract" of the talks, below, for details).  See Calvin's Visitor Resources for maps and directions to the Science Building.  Faculty, students, staff and off-campus visitors are welcome.  If you would like to receive regular email announcements for each week's seminar, or if you have other questions or comments, contact Loren Haarsma.

 

Leading a seminar:   If you are interested in leading a seminar, contact Loren Haarsma.  You don't have to write an entirely new lecture in order to lead a seminar.  You could also
--present a lecture you have given elsewhere or an article you have recently published;
--present a preliminary draft of a lecture or an article on which you are working, to get some feedback;
--lead a discussion about how to teach Christian perspectives on a certain topic in the classroom.

 

Other science-and-religion seminar series in the Grand Rapids area:
     Grand Dialogue in Science and Religion


Spring 2011 Schedule

Date

Title

Speaker

Friday

  February 4

     3:30 p.m.

   (SB-110)

What Scientists Say and Why They Say It: The Linguistic Pragmatism of Quantum Physics

 

      abstract   

Matt Walhout, Physics Department and Dean for Research and Scholarship, Calvin College.

Wednesday

  February 9

     7:00 p.m.

   (SB-010)

Those Scary Fossils:  History of Paleoanthropological Discoveries

 

      abstract     slides      handout

          audio recording (.wma)  

Ralph Stearley, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College.

Thursday

  February 10

     8:00 p.m.

   (SB-110)

The Best Science Money Can Buy:  How fossil-fuel and nuclear interests manipulate climate-relevant information

 

      abstract   

 

 (co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

 (co-sponsored by Calvin Integrated Sciences Research Institute)

Kristin Shrader-Frechette, O'Neill Family Professor, Departments of Philosophy and Biological Science, University of Notre Dame

Friday

  February 11

     3:30 p.m.

   (SB-010)

Adam's Bloodline: Genesis, Race, and Human Origins

 

    abstract          powerpoint slides

                 audio recording (.wma) 

David N. Livingstone, Professor of Geography & Intellectual History, Queen's University Belfast

Thursday

  February 17

     3:30 p.m.

 (CFAC 107

   Recital Hall)

Evolution and the Fall: Clarifying the Issues, Imagining the Possibilities

 

    abstract            audio recording (.wma)

            handout/notes/text of talk 

James K.A. Smith, Philosophy Department, Calvin College.

Friday

  February 18

     3:30 p.m.

   (SB-010)

What can Evolutionary Psychology Tell Us about Sin?

 

    abstract              powerpoint slides

                 audio recording (.wma)   

Paul Moes, Psychology Department, Calvin College.

Friday

  February 25

     3:30 p.m.

   (SB-110)

Does Religion Matter for Adolescents and Emerging Adults?

 

      abstract             powerpoint slides

                 audio recording (.wma)   

 

Laura DeHaan and Julie Yonker, Psychology Department, Calvin College.

Wednesday

  March 2

     7:00 p.m.

 (CFAC 107

   Recital Hall)

God, Chance, and Purpose

 

      abstract                 powerpoint slides

                 audio recording (.wma)    

Kelly Clark, Philosophy Department, Calvin College.

Thursday

  March 3

     7:30 p.m.

   (SB-010)

Thinking About and Responding to Climate Change

 

      abstract

 

 (co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

 (co-sponsored by Calvin Integrated Sciences Research Institute)

Stephen M. Gardiner, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Program on Values in Society, University of Washington

Friday

  March 4

     3:30 p.m.

   (SB-010)

A Historian's Approach to Ancient Stories of Human Origin and Cosmic Structure

 

         abstract                   handout

                 audio recording (.wma)    

 

            1-page summary of implications 

Bert deVries, History Department, Calvin College.

Friday

  March 11

     3:30 p.m.

   (SB-010)

"Tell me: How long did Adam dwell in Paradise?"  Traditions of reading sacred texts in the light of modern biblical criticism.

 

         abstract                 powerpoint slides

                 audio recording (.wma)  

Frans vanLiere, History Department, Calvin College.

Thursday

  March 17

     3:30 p.m.

   (NH-161)

 

Discussion of article  "Assessing Evidences for the Evolution of a Human Cognitive Platform for 'Soulish Behaviors' " by Ralph Stearley, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith v.61 n.3 p.152-174.

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2009/PSCF9-09Stearley.pdf

 

      abstract               audio recording (.wma) 

powerpoint slides (1st half)    overhead slides (2nd half)

       

Lead by Ralph Stearley, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College

Wednesday

  March 30

     7:30 p.m.

  (Commons Annex

Lecture Hall)

What Augustine Still Has to Teach Us about Human Origins and God's Creating Work

 

         abstract          

Laura Smit, Religion Department, Calvin College.

Wednesday

  April 6

     7:00 p.m.

   (SB-010)

Topic: What the Old Testament and New Testament say about the Fall

David Crump, Religion Department, Calvin College.

Friday

  April 8

     3:30 p.m.

   (SB-110)

The Doctrine of Creation: Mediated Action and Science

 

(co-sponsored by Calvin College Philosophy Department)

 

      abstract   

Robert Bishop, McIntyre Professor of Philosophy and History of Science, Wheaton College.

Wednesday

  April 13

     3:30 p.m.

   (SB-010)

Topic: What natural and social scientists should know about "evil."

Brian Madison, Religion Department, Calvin College.

Thursday

  April 28

     7:00 p.m.

(CFAC 107

   Recital Hall)

Topic:  The Atonement and issues of human origins

Suzanne McDonald, Religion Department, Calvin College.

Friday

  April 29

     3:30 p.m.

   (SB-010)

The CRC and Human Origins Since Synod 2010

 

      abstract

John Cooper, Professor of Philosophical Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary.

 


Previous seminars

Fall 2010 Schedule

Date

Title

Speaker

October 8

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

Scientific and Theological Issues on Human Origins

 

  abstract    powerpoint slides     audio recording (.wma)

Loren Haarsma, Physics and Astronomy Department, Calvin College.

October 15

   (3:30 p.m.)

(North Hall 157)

Follow-up discussion to "Scientific and Theological Issues on Human Origins"

.

October 20

   (7:00 p.m.)

   (SB-010)

Evolution and Explanation

 

  abstract     powerpoint slides     handout

          audio recording (.wma)

 

(co-sponsored by Calvin Integrated Sciences Research Institute)

(co-sponsored by Calvin College Biology Department)

Steve Matheson, Biology Department, Calvin College.

October 28*

   (7:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

 

Responding to Climate Change:  The potential and risks of geo-engineering options*

 

 

 (co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

 (co-sponsored by Calvin Integrated Sciences Research Institute)

Tom Ackerman, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, and Director of the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO)

October 29

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

The Science (and Art) of Global Climate Modeling

 

          abstract

 

(co-sponsored by the Calvin Integrated Sciences Research Institute)

Tom Ackerman, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, and Director of the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO)

November 5

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-010)

Reading Genesis 2-3 in an Age of Evolutionary Science

 

   abstract      handout        audio recording (.wma)

 

 

 

Daniel Harlow, Religion Department, Calvin College

November 12

   (3:30 p.m.)

(North Hall 161)

Follow-up discussion to "Reading Genesis 2-3 in an Age of Evolutionary Science"

.

November 18*

   (7:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

 

Ethical Issues in Climate Change:  A theological perspective*

 

(co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

 (co-sponsored by Calvin Integrated Sciences Research Institute)

Steven Bouma-Prediger, Religion Department, Hope College

December 3

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-010)

Ecclesiastes for Managers in Times of Crisis

 

          abstract

Prof. Dr. Maarten Verkerk, Professor of Philosophy of Technology at the Technical University of

Eindhoven and the University of Maastricht

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

 

Spring 2010 Schedule

Date

Title

Speaker

February 26*

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (Meeter Center Lecture Hall)

 

Against Multiverse Theodicies*

 

   (sponsored by the Calvin Philosophy Department)

Bradley Monton, Philosophy Department, University of Colorado, Boulder.

March 12

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

What Scientists Should Know About the Doctrine of Creation

       abstract          video recording 1 of 3 (.m4v)

                          2 of 3 (.m4v)         3 of 3 (.m4v)

Brian Madison, Religion Department, Calvin College.

  Saturday

March 20*

   (9:30 a.m.)

 (Loosemore

  Auditorium,

  Grand Valley

  State Univ.)

Grand Dialogue in Science and Religion Annual Conference.*

 

.

April 9

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

A discussion of the  Divine Action Project

       abstract               video recording 1 of 3 (.m4v)

                          2 of 3 (.m4v)         3 of 3 (.m4v)

Jim Bradley, emeritus Mathematics and Statistics Department, Calvin College

April 16

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

Philosophical Materialism and Moral Nihilism                   abstract    

    handout notes         (recording not available)

Loren Haarsma, Physics and Astronomy Department, Calvin College.

April 23

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-010)

In Pursuit of the Ethical Stem Cell:

Challenges in the Quest for New Biological Therapies                   abstract     

James Rusthoven, Professor, Department of Oncology, McMaster University.

April 30

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-010)

Convergence and chance in the construction of the tree of life                   abstract

video recording 1 of 4 (.m4v)    2 of 4    3 of 4    4 of 4

Steve Matheson, Biology Department, Calvin College.

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

Fall 2009 Schedule

Date

Title

Speaker

September 11

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-010)

 

Wrestling with Darwin

 

   (sponsored by Seminars in Christian Scholarship)

 

  abstract     powerpoint slides     audio recording (.wma)

 

Karl Giberson,  Eastern Nazarene College; President of Biologos Foundation; author of Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution.

September 25

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

 

"Test of Faith" DVD (part 1) viewing and discussion

 

   abstract

 

DVD produced by the Faraday Institute;

discussion lead by Deborah Haarsma, Physics and Astronomy Department, Calvin College.

October 2

   (3:30 p.m.)

(North Hall 078)

 

"Test of Faith" DVD (part 2) viewing and discussion

 

   abstract

 

DVD produced by the Faraday Institute;

discussion lead by Deborah Haarsma, Physics and Astronomy Department, Calvin College.

October 16

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

 

Why Newton was not an Empiricist

 

   abstract     audio recording (.wma)

Steve Wykstra, Philosophy Department, Calvin College.

C.J. Majeski, philosophy student, Calvin College

Noah Cawley, philosophy student, Calvin College

November 6

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

The Seven Temptations of Neuroethics

 

   abstract   powerpoint slides     audio recording (.wma)

Bill Struthers, Associate Professor of Psychology, Wheaton College

 

Spring 2009 Schedule

Date

Title

Speaker

February 27

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-010)

 

A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists: Musings on Why God is Good and Faith Isn't Evil

 

   abstract       powerpoint slides     audio recording (.wma)     

 

David Myers,  Professor of Psychology, Hope College.

  Saturday

March 14*

   (9:45 a.m.)

 (Loosemore

  Auditorium,

  Grand Valley

  State Univ.)

WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE IN GODS?*

 

   (Keynote lecture of the Grand Dialogue in Science and Religion Annual Conference.)

   (Additional talks in breakout sessions at 1:00 p.m.)

Brian Malley, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan.

April 3

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

 

C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud: Two Contrasting Worldviews

 

   abstract     powerpoint slides    audio recording (.wma)

Eric Achtyes, M.D., Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.

 

April 17

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

 

Science on Sunday: Integrating Science into the Life of the Congregation

 

   abstract       

Scott Hoezee, Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching, Calvin Theological Seminary;

     and

Deb Haarsma, Physics and Astronomy Department, Calvin College

May 1

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

Why is there no controversy surrounding theistic embryology?  Dissecting critical responses to theistic evolution.

 

   abstract      powerpoint slides    audio recording (.wma)

 

Steve Matheson, Biology Department, Calvin College.

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

Fall 2008 schedule

Date

Title

Speaker

October 3

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

 

Should Christians be Structural Realists?

 

   (co-sponsored by Calvin Philosophy Department)

 

   abstract      powerpoint slides        introduction (.wma)

      audio recording (.wma) (lecture begins 35 seconds into file)

 

Elise M. Crull,  University of Notre Dame, graduate student in History and Philosophy of Science.

October 17

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

 

Interactions between Science and Philosophy:  Newton on Space and Body

 

   abstract              audio recording (.wma)

 

C.J. Majeski, Calvin College philosophy major.

 

 (with Steve Wykstra, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College)

November 14

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-010)

 

 

"The Bible, Rocks and Time"   Is that like "rock, paper, scissors"?  An interview with Davis Young and Ralph Stearley.

 

   (co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

   (co-sponsored by Calvin GGES Department)

 

          abstract           audio recording (.mp3)

 

 

Ralph Stearley, Calvin College Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies department.

 

Davis Young, Calvin College Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies department, emeritus.

November 21

   (1:30 p.m.)

   (SB-010)

 

Potential for Research at Christian College Science Departments Targeted to Benefit the Poor

 

   (co-sponsored by Calvin Biology Department)

 

  abstract       powerpoint slides     audio recording (.wma)

   (lecture begins 4:40 into audio file; audio quality moderate/poor)

 

Martin Price, Senior Agricultural Scientist, former CEO, and Founder, at the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO), an organization to help those working internationally with the poor be more effective, especially in the area of agriculture.

 

Spring 2008 schedule

Date

Title

Speaker

  Saturday

February 9*

   (10:00 a.m.)

 (Loosemore

  Auditorium,

  Grand Valley

  State Univ.)

Is the Cosmos All There Is?  The quest for answers to big cosmological questions*

 

   (Keynote lecture of the Grand Dialogue in Science and Religion Annual Conference.)

   (Additional talks in breakout sessions at 1:00 p.m.)

Howard J. VanTill, Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy, Calvin College

February 15

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

 

Randomness, Purpose, God, and Evolution – Can they go together?

 

          abstract

   powerpoint slides              audio recording (Quicktime)

  

Richard Colling, Professor of Biology, Olivet Nazarene University.  Author of Random Designer: Created from Chaos to Connect with the Creator

February 29

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

 

Where is the "C" in Developing E-Type Systems?

 

          abstract

   powerpoint slides                 audio recording (.wma)

 

Patrick Bailey, Computer Science & Information Systems Department, Calvin College.

March 28

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

 

Interactive Cellular Assemblies, Neural Suppression, and the Unified Character of Consciousness

 

          abstract

    

Eric LaRock, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Oakland University.

Monday,

  April 7

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

 

Real Faith and Fictional Worlds

 

        abstract                audio recording (.wma)

    

George Murphy, Pastoral associate at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Akron, Ohio; adjunct faculty member at Trinity Lutheran Seminary; author of several books on science on religion.

May 2

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

Christianity and Climate Change:  Understanding the Range of Responses                      abstract

 

This is a repeat of seminar presented last October 26, to be given for a group of visiting alumni.  If you missed the earlier seminar, feel free to attend this one.

Janel Curry, Dean of Research and Professor of Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies, Calvin College.

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

 

Fall 2007 Schedule

Date

Title

Speaker

September 21

   (3:30 p.m.)

    (SB-110)

Revisiting the "God of the gaps"

 

      abstract

     powerpoint slides                 audio recording (.wma)

Ronald Larson, Chair and George Granger Brown Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan.

September 28

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

A Classical Christian Emergent Anthropology

 

       abstract

        handout                 audio recording (.wma)

John Cooper, Professor of Philosophical Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary.

October 12

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-010)

Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution

 

       abstract

     powerpoint slides                 audio recording (.wma)

Deborah Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Department; Loren Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College.

October 26

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

Christianity and Climate Change:  Understanding the Range of Responses

 

       abstract

     powerpoint slides                 audio recording (.wma)

Janel Curry, Dean of Research and Professor of Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies, Calvin College.

November 30

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

Animal Welfare and Global Sustainability:  Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation

 

       abstract

     text of lecture                 audio recording (.wma)

Matthew C. Halteman, Philosophy Department, Calvin College.

 

Spring 2007

Date

Title

Speaker

February 2

   (3:30 p.m.)

    SB-010

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

 

   (co-sponsored by Calvin Philosophy Department)

 

       abstract

      powerpoint slides             audio recording (.wma)

Alan Padgett, Professor of Systematic Theology, Luther Seminary. Crosson Fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Religion at Notre Dame University, 2006-2007.

February 9

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

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

 

       abstract

      powerpoint slides             audio recording (.wma)

Jim Turner, Mathematics & Statistics Department, Calvin College.

  Thursday

February 22

   (3:30 p.m.)

    SB-010

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

 

   (co-sponsored by Calvin Engineering Department, Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, and Seminars in Christian Scholarship.)

 

       abstract

      powerpoint slides             audio recording (.wma)

Charles Adams, Dean of the Natural Sciences and Professor of Engineering, Dordt College;

Association of Reformed Institutions of Higher Education (ARIHE) Lecturer, 2006-2008.

February 23

   (3:30 p.m.)

   Meeter

     Center

      Lecture

       Hall

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

 

   (co-sponsored by Calvin Engineering Department, Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, and Seminars in Christian Scholarship.)

 

       abstract

      powerpoint slides             audio recording (.mp3)

Charles Adams, Dean of the Natural Sciences and Professor of Engineering, Dordt College;

Association of Reformed Institutions of Higher Education (ARIHE) Lecturer, 2006-2008.

  Saturday

February 24*

   (10:00 a.m.)

 (Loosemore

  Auditorium,

  Grand Valley

  State Univ.)

Body, Mind, and Spirit: Emerging Perspectives in Science and Religion.*

 

   (Keynote lecture of the Grand Dialogue in Science and Religion Annual Conference.)

   (Additional talks in breakout sessions at 1:00 p.m.)

Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor of Theology at Claremont School of Theology; Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Claremont Graduate University.

Tuesday

March 27*

   (7:30 p.m.)

   (Calvin

    Seminary

    Auditorium)

Scripture, God and Time*

 

   (Calvin Philosophy Department:  2007 Jellema Lectures)

 

Brian Leftow, Professor, Oxford University.

Wednesday

March 28*

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (Calvin

    Seminary

    Auditorium)

Creation ex Nihilo*

 

   (Calvin Philosophy Department:  2007 Jellema Lectures)

 

Brian Leftow, Professor, Oxford University.

April 20*

   (7:00 p.m.)

   (Calvin

    Seminary

    Auditorium)

Topic: Public health issues surrounding factory farms.*

 

   (Sponsored by Farms Without Harm, in conjunction with the Calvin College Philosophy and Biology Departments.)

Michael Greger, M.D., physician, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States

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

Fall 2006

Date

Title

Speaker

September 15

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

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

      abstract             audio recording (.wma)

Jaap Klapwijk, Free University in Amsterdam

September 29

     3:45 p.m.

in Bunker Interpretive Center

Outdoor Experiences for the Young and Young at Heart

     abstract                    audio recording first half (.wma)
    powerpoint slides       audio recording second half (.wma)

Cheryl Hoogewind,Calvin Ecosystem Preserve Manager, Calvin College

October 12*

   (Thursday)

   (3:30 p.m.)

(North Hall 078)

Evangelicals and Climate Change

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

October 27

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

Human Origins:  Scientific Theories and Christian Theologies

      abstract                         handout from speaker

   (audio recording unavailable due to technical glitch)

John Cooper, Professor of Philosophical Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary

November 3

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

What is a Number?   Augustine's Philosophy of Mathematics

      abstract

    powerpoint slides             audio recording (.wma)

Jim Bradley, Mathematics Department; Director of Assessment & Institutional Research, Calvin College

November 10

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-010)

The Realm of Ghosts:  Sickness and Death in the Early Holland Colony

      abstract                         audio recording (.wma)

Dr. Jan Peter Verhave, Visiting Research Fellow

Van Raalte Institute, Hope College; and microbiologist at the Radboud University Medical Centre of Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

November 17

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

Intelligent Design on Trial

       abstract                        powerpoint slides

                                           audio recording (.wma)

Edward B. Davis, Professor of the History of Science, Messiah College

December 1

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

The Search for Extra-terrestrial Life

       abstract                        powerpoint slides

                                           audio recording (.wma)

Larry Molnar and Loren Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College

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

Spring 2006

Date

Title

Speaker

February 8

   Wed., 3:30 pm

   Meeter Center

Science and Religion: Nature as Interpreted Book

(Co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

(Co-sponsored by Seminars in Christian Scholarship)

Arie Leegwater, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Calvin College;  ARIHE lecturer for 2005-2006.

March 3

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

Creation in Genesis 1: Genre, Purpose, Truth

Daniel C. Harlow, Religion Department, Calvin College.

March 8

   Wed., 3:30 pm

 Commons

      Lecture Hall

Putting Science in its Place: The Culture of Scientific Practice

(Co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

(Co-sponsored by Seminars in Christian Scholarship)

Arie Leegwater, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Calvin College;  ARIHE lecturer for 2005-2006.

March 10

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

Thinking God's Thoughts after Him

Ronald A. Buelow, Professor of Mathematics, Bethany Lutheran College.

April 1*

   Saturday

   10:00 am

   at GVSU

Darwin, Intelligence, and Religion: How Much Can Evolution Explain?*

   (This is the keynote address of the spring conference of

the Grand Dialogue in Science and Religion)

John F. Haught, Landegger Distinguished Professor of Theology, Georgetown University.

April 21*

A New Image of Science and Nature*

   (Sponsored by the Metanexus Local Society Initiative of Calvin College and the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

Joseph Rouse, Professor of Philosophy, Wesleyan University.

April 27

   (Thursday)

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

Science:  A Misused Weapon in a Religious War

Randy Isaac, Executive Director, American Scientific Affiliation

May 5

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

Spiritual Care in Nursing:  Christ Has No Hands But Ours

Judith A. Baker, Nursing Department, Calvin College.

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

Fall 2005

Date

Title

Speaker

September 16

Sustainability: An Opportunity for the Calvin Curriculum

Ken Piers, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Calvin College.

September 29*

   (7:30 p.m.)

   (SB-010)

Einstein and His World

   (Lecture for a general audience)

Martin Klein, Eugene Higgins Professor Emeritus of Physics and History of Science, Yale University; former general editor, The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein.

September 30*

   (3:30 p.m.)

   (SB-110)

New Paths to the Depths of Physics: Einstein in 1905

Martin Klein, Eugene Higgins Professor Emeritus of Physics and History of Science, Yale University; former general editor, The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein.

October 7

Chastened Realism:  Mathematics as a Model for  Theology

Douglas Kindschi, Professor of Mathematics and Philosophy, Grand Valley State University

October 13*

   (3:30 p.m.)

(Meeter Center)

Beliefs in Natural Science, Then and Now

   (This is a Meeter Center colloquium.  It will be held

      in the Meeter Center Lecture Hall.)

Christopher B. Kaiser, Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Western Theological Seminary

October 21

Progress and Its Discontents – In the History of Life

Ralph Stearley, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College.

October 28

Global Warming and Public Policy

Matthew Heun, Engineering Department, Calvin College.

November 3-5*

Conference on "The 'Nature' of Belief" at the Prince Conference Center

Sponsored by the Templeton Foundation and by the Calvin Seminars in Christian Scholarship

November 18

Evolution Wars: A Failure to Communicate

Uko Zylstra, Prof. of Biology and Dean of Natural Sciences, Calvin College.

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

 

Spring 2005

Date

Title

Speaker

February 18

Place-based agbiotech: Bridging ideological divisions over genetically modified crops

(Co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

David Koetje, Biology Department, Calvin College.

March 4

The Truth of a Tree:  Logos Christology as a Foundation for a Christian Environmental Ethic

Laura Smit, Dean of the Chapel & Assistant Professor of Religion, Calvin College.

March 23 (Wednesday)

Partnering with Faith Communities to Promote Advance Care Planning

Karen VanderLaan, Nursing Department, Calvin College.

April 1

Science, Experience, and Philosophy:

  from Henri Bergson to Maurice Merleau-Ponty

    (Sponsored by the Metanexus Local Society Initiative of Calvin College and the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

Gary Gutting, Professor, Philosophy Department, University of Notre Dame.

April 8

   (SB-010)

Religious Opinions Concerning Human Reproductive Genetic Technologies

   (Sponsored by the Calvin Sociology Department)

John Evans, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego.

April 15

Truth and Interpretation:  Science, Religion and Culture

    (Sponsored by the Metanexus Local Society Initiative of Calvin College and the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

Lambert Zuidervaart, Professor of Philosophy, Institute for Christian Studies.

April 29

A Student's Perspective on Integrating Faith and Science

Elise Crull, Physics major, Calvin College.

May 6

Is the Continuum Hypothesis True or False?

Mike Stob, Mathematics Department, Calvin College.

 

Fall 2004

Date

Title

Speaker

October 8

Consciousness Studies, Philosophy of Science and Theology:  Why the Sciences Do Not Threaten Consciousness, Free Will or Miracles

(Co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

   (Co-sponsored by the Calvin Philosophy Department)

Steven Horst, Associate Professor and Chair, Philosophy Department, Wesleyan University.

October 12

    7:30 p.m.

Calvin Chapel

But It's Only a Rat!  Christian Reflections on Painful Animal Research

    (Sponsored by Templeton/ASA Lecture Series)

Robert N. Wennberg, Professor, Philosophy Department, Westmont College.

October 29

The Birth of Mathematical Astronomy: 

    Observational Equivalence, Simplicity, and

    Metaphysics in Ptolemy and Copernicus

Steve Wykstra, Philosophy Department, Calvin College

November 12

"Green" Academic Buildings:

   Good Stewardship or Temples for a New Religion?

John H. Scofield, Professor and Chair, Physics and Astronomy Department, Oberlin College

December 3

Christian Philosophy, Spatiality and Geography

(Co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

  (Co-sponsored by the Calvin GGES Department)

Henk Aay, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College

December 10

The Problem of Boundaries

(Co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

  (Co-sponsored by the Calvin GGES Department)

Janel Curry, Dean of Research; Professor of Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies, Calvin College

 

Spring 2004

Date

Title

Speaker

February 13

The Scientific Efficacy of Prayer

Douglas VanderGriend, Chemistry Department, Calvin College;  and Rev. Alvin VanderGriend, Prayer-Evangelism Associate for Harvest Prayer Ministries

March 12

The Human Creature

Rebecca Flietstra, Associate Professor of Biology,

         Point Loma Nazarene University

March 30

 

Can We Allow Climate to Change and Biodiversity to Become Extinct?

  (Sponsored by Templeton/ASA Lecture Series)

Sir Ghillean Prance, former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, adjunct professor at the City University of New York and a visiting professor at the University of Reading

March 31

 

The Eden Project      (www.edenproject.com)

  (Sponsored by Templeton/ASA Lecture Series)

Sir Ghillean Prance

April 16

The Future in the Instant: What human embryonic stem cells can do, and where they are taking us

Stephen Matheson, Biology Department, Calvin College

April 30

   (SB-010)

John Calvin and the Natural World

(Co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

Dave Young, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department , Calvin College

May 7

   (SB-010)

Copernicus and the Tale of the Pale Blue Dot

(Co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship)

Dennis Danielson, Professor and Associate Head of the Dept. of English, University of British Columbia. 

 

Fall 2003

Date

Title

Speaker

September 26

The End of Oil

Ken Piers, Chemistry Department, Calvin College

October 10

George McCready Price and the Foundation of Flood Geology

Ralph Stearley, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department , Calvin College

October 24

Rational, Emotional, and Moral Brains:  Implications for Teaching and Learning

Paul Moes, Psychology Department, Calvin College

November 7

Science on Sunday: A Pastor's Perspective

Scott Hoezee, Pastor, Calvin Christian Reformed Church

 

Spring 2003

Date

Title

Speaker

March 7

Creation or Curse?  Entropy, Earthquakes, Mosquitoes and Malaria

Loren Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College

March 28

What Can Mathematics Contribute to the Science-Religion Discussion?

Douglas Kindschi, Dean of Science & Professor of Mathematics, Grand Valley State University

April 11

Teaching Professional Ethics in Engineering and the Sciences

Gayle Ermer, Engineering Department, Calvin College

April 25

Ethics of Technology

Egbert Schuurman, Professor, Department of Christian Philosophy, Technological Universities of Delft and Eindhoven and the Agricultural University of Wageningen

 

Fall 2002

Date

Title

Speaker

September 27

The Skies Proclaim the Work of His Hands:  What modern astronomy is telling us about the attributes of God.

Deborah Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College

October 11

Asa Gray: Darwin's Defender or Darwin's Fool?

Stephen Matheson, Biology Department, Calvin College

November 22

Anomalous Suspension Revisited: Worldview Shaping, Realist Historiography of Science, and the Boyle-Huygens Debate

Steve Wykstra, Philosophy Department, Calvin College

December 6

Teaching Virtues: Using 4MAT Lesson Design to Integrate Knowledge, Skills & Virtues

Karen J. Vander Laan, Nursing Department, Calvin College

 

Spring 2002

Date

Title

Speaker

February 8

Embryonic Stem Cells: Promises and Perils

Hessel Bouma III, Biology Department , Calvin College

February 22

Sharing the Life and History of a Wetland Across the Generations

Cheryl Hoogewind, Calvin Ecosystem Preserve Manager, Calvin College

March 22

Transforming Care: Toward A Reformed Christian Perspective on Nursing

Mary Molewyk Doornbos, Mary E. Flikkema & Barbara Timmerman, Nursing Department, Calvin College

April 5

Cosmology and the Role of Presuppositions in Science

David Van Baak, Physics & Astronomy Department , Calvin College

April 12

The Biotech Century: Brave New World, or Just a Better One?

Jared Knoll, Biotechnology major, Calvin College

April 19

Where does mathematics come from? A Christian perspective.

James Turner, Mathematics Department, Calvin College

 

Fall 2001

Date

Title

Speaker

September 7

The New Natural World Core: It's here, and now you've got to assess it.

Loren Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College

October 12

Human Animals or Human Persons: How are bodies and persons related?

Kevin Corcoran, Philosophy Department, Calvin College

October 26

Teleology and the Laws of Physics

David VanBaak, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College

November 9

The Quest for a Quantitative Social Science: A Problem for Christians?

James Bradley, Mathematics Department, Calvin College

November 30

Models of Spiritual Discipline in Addiction Recovery

Glenn Weaver, Psychology Department, Calvin College

 

Spring 2001

Date

Title

Speaker

February 23

Is Science Intrinsically Atheistic? What is "Christian" Scholarship in the Natural Sciences?

Loren Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College

March 7

Robert Boyle and Methodological Naturalism: God, laws, and air bubbles.

Stephen Wykstra, Philosophy Department, Calvin College

April 6

'On the Mountain': Charles A. Coulson on Science and Religion

Arie Leegwater, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Calvin College

April 20

Some Considerations for Intelligent Design from Physics and Astrophysics

Steve Steenwyk, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College

May 4

The Gaia Hypothesis and the Possibility for a Christian Earth Teleology

Ralph Stearley, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College


Abstracts

Friday, February 23, 2001, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Loren Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College.
Title:  "Is Science Intrinsically Atheistic? What is 'Christian' Scholarship in the Natural Sciences?"
    
Our religious worldview affects how we search for truth, including what sorts of evidence and what sorts of answers we are willing to accept as "true." How is it, then, that natural scientists from many different religious worldviews usually reach consensus on scientific matters? Some people (including some Christians) claim that scientists reach consensus because science is "methodologically" atheistic; that is, scientists act "as if God doesn't exist" while they are doing science. Is that a fair description of how natural science usually works? If so, is there such a thing as "Christian" scholarship in science? If that is not a fair description of how science reaches consensus, what is a better description?


Wednesday, March 7, 2001, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 101.
Speaker:
Stephen Wykstra, Philosophy Department, Calvin College.
Title:  "Robert Boyle and Methodological Naturalism: God, laws, and air bubbles."
    
Robert Boyle, of "Boyle's Law" fame, was perhaps the most influential scientist in the generation preceding Isaac Newton. His voluminous and widely-read books were divided between experimental work (especially on the air pump and in chemistry), work on the theoretical foundations and guiding "meta-scientific" framework for science, and theological and religious works. Boyle urged that experimental science be conducted within the framework of the "Corpuscular" or "Mechanical Philosophy," defending this framework as a devout Christian theist, but urging that it NOT be limited in the ways that other mechanists wanted to limit it. I will give an account of some strands in Boyle's thought, raise some questions, and invite discussion on his relevance for the practice of science today.


Friday, April 6, 2001, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Arie Leegwater, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Calvin College.
Title:  "On the Mountain: Charles A. Coulson on Science and Religion"
    
Charles A. Coulson (1910-1974) was an influential English-Methodist quantum chemist and author of a number of books on science and religion. [You could say he was the Polkinghorne of the 1950s and 1960s in England.] Coulson's life, I will argue, displays a unity of action, and that unity is displayed in a variety of ways: (1) Coulson's style of attacking scientific problems in quantum chemistry, his view of the role of models and imagination in scientific work, and his emphasis on the wholeness or unity of personal experience shaped his views of the science/religion connection. (2) Coulson's emphasis on a personal religious experience, the role of a group's fellowship in confirming that experience, and a call to holiness affected his approach to his scientific co-workers, his research group and their activities, and his general promotion of science to a wider public.


Friday, April 20, 2001, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Steve Steenwyk, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College.
Title:  "Some Considerations for Intelligent Design from Physics and Astrophysics"
     
While much of the intelligent design (I.D.) discussion centers on issues involving biological function and structure and the probability of their biochemical evolution, physics, astrophysics and cosmology also may contribute some important constraints to be considered by I.D. proponents. A brief summary of I.D. is given, highlighting that much of the argument centers on probabilities that are highly uncertain. Recent and well established developments in astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology, string theory, black hole entropy and information, quantum mechanics, chaos theory, and other fields must influence considerations involving the probability that life may evolve and the generation and transmission of "information"-a key word in I.D. theory. While all of these issues cannot be addressed here in detail, some recent developments in astrophysics and cosmology involving the physical extent of the universe are addressed in some detail along with some brief comments involving some of the other areas mentioned. Some implications for estimation of probabilities will be discussed.


Friday, May 4, 2001, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Ralph Stearley, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College.
Title:   "The Gaia Hypothesis and the Possibility for a Christian Earth Teleology"
    
Recently, attention has been renewed among scientists, philosophers and theologians to the concept of teleological design or intelligent design in the natural world. Any demonstration of design in an individual, whether a living organism, a planet, or a galaxy, must take into account the historical development of that individual. During its 4.5 Gyr history, Earth has developed from a very hot near- molten entity with a dense atmosphere of CO2 and steam, lacking a shield against lethal UV radiation, into a comfortable home for many different types of life. The Earth has become remarkably robust in terms of resistance to perturbations which might threaten life. One non-Christian teleological interpretation of this is the "Gaia hypothesis", which postulates that Earth behaves as a large self- regulating superorganism. How should Christians respond to the Gaia hypothesis? Is a distinctive Christian teleological theory of Earth history possible?


Friday, September 7, 2001, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Organizer:
Loren Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College.
Title:   "The New Natural World Core: It's here, and now you've got to assess it."
    
A brainstorming session on how to assess Natural World core courses. If you teach a science core class, or expect to some day, that class WILL be evaluated. Would you like a say in how the assessment is done? Even if you don't plan to teach a core course, your students will be taking them. Help us decide how to assess whether our classes are meeting our goals. Students welcome!


Friday, October 12, 2001, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 101.
Speaker:
Kevin Corcoran, Philosophy Department, Calvin College.
Title:  "Human Animals or Human Persons: How are bodies and persons related?"
    
According to classical dualism, human persons are fundamentally and essentially immaterial souls, albeit souls contingently and intimately connected to material bodies. According to "animalism," human persons are fundamentally and essentially biological organisms and, therefore, only contingently persons. These two broad views have seemed exhaustive. I want to suggest an alternative. I propose a "constitution view" of human persons according to which we are wholly physical things, though not identical with the physical things that are our bodies.


Friday, October 26, 2001, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
David Van Baak, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College.  Calvin Lecturer, 2001-2002.
Title:  "Teleology and the Laws of Physics"
    
Since the time of Newton it has been generally accepted that the laws of nature depict the natural world as a mechanism. This viewpoint has persisted in spite of discoveries that parts of the natural world do not have any of the characteristics of Newtonian clockwork; it has even persisted despite the discovery, more than two centuries ago, that there are alternative ways of expressing the laws of physics. These "variational" expressions of the laws are wholly consistent with Newtonian forms in their observable implications, but they are not at all mechanistic in their character. Whereas the picture of the world painted by Newtonian mechanics is that of a mindless and deterministic machine, the variational expression of the same physics is eerily redolent of purpose or intention. This lecture will introduce anyone interested in science to the character of natural law, some of the alternative variational expressions of the laws of physics, and the implications for science, and the philosophy of science, of these "physically equivalent but psychologically inequivalent" ways of expressing the laws of nature.


Friday, November 9, 2001, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
James Bradley, Mathematics Department, Calvin College.
Title:  "The Quest for a Quantitative Social Science: A Problem for Christians?"
    
Since the mid-seventeenth century, many thinkers have sought to develop a science of human behavior analogous to physics -- that is, one based on natural laws that have empirical bases and are formulated mathematically. These thinkers hoped that such a science could serve as a rational basis for ordering human societies. This talk will first explore why such a quest appears problematic for Christians. It will then examine how efforts to quantify human behavior have made major positive contributions to human culture but have also generated significant social problems. It will conclude by suggesting some ways that the application of a Christian perspective could maintain the benefits of quantification while preventing some of the harms.


Friday, November 30, 2001, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Glenn Weaver, Psychology Department, Calvin College.
Title:  "Models of Spiritual Discipline in Addiction Recovery"
    
The Twelve Step model of spiritual discipline is the most widely recognized addiction recovery approach that emphasizes the importance of spiritual discipline. This presentation will describe two studies which identify an alternative model of spiritual discipline as effective in the efforts of nicotine-dependent smokers to quit smoking. Based on structured interviews with ex-smokers, the first study identified "calling-oriented spirituality" and "dependency- oriented spirituality" as related, yet distinct, practices which have been engaged in efforts to quit smoking. The second study recruited active smokers for a three-month effort to quit smoking. Participants agreed to random assignment to one of several disciplined practices throughout the three month effort: "calling-oriented" spiritual practices, "dependency-oriented" spiritual practices, or self-designed "motivational enhancement" practices. Results indicated that these practices had different effects on the way in which participants viewed their smoking during the three month effort to quit. Participants experienced the "calling-oriented" spiritual practice condition as the most appropriate approach and made the greatest progress in reducing their self-monitored cigarette and nicotine consumption. The presentation will consider some implications for addiction theory and future addiction research.


Friday, February 8, 2002, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Hessel Bouma III, Biology Department, Calvin College.
Title:  "Embryonic Stem Cells: Promises and Perils"
    
Embryonic stem cells are being widely touted by scientists, politicians and the media as potentially the long-awaited and ultimate cure for people with diabetes, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, organ failure, and spinal cord injuries. What are stem cells? Where can we get them? What do we know they can do as opposed to what we suspect they might be able to do? Should these potential cures be perceived as hype or genuine hope? What are the ethical and public policy issues raised by embryonic stem cells and what alternatives might there be? This seminar will explore these questions towards an understanding how Christians might respond to the dilemmas posed by these issues.


Friday, February 22, 2002, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Cheryl Hoogewind, Calvin Ecosystem Preserve Manager, Calvin College.
Title:   "Sharing the Life and History of a Wetland Across the Generations"
    
What do senior citizens, elementary students, and a created urban wetland have in common? Young and old people can explore together the wetland's cultural and natural history. I have been involved in a grant-funded project to create a wetland education curriculum for a new retirement community as an outreach to area schoolchildren. The program focuses on a 7-acre wetland, created when the retirement community site was developed. The program is intentionally inter- generational and emphasizes the functional importance of created wetlands in watershed and wildlife management. The project has caught the attention of area educators and won an award from the Michigan Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. Attendees will participate in a simulation of the importance of wetlands to migrating birds.


Friday, March 22, 2002, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speakers:
Mary Molewyk Doornbos, Mary E. Flikkema & Barbara Timmerman, Nursing Department, Calvin College.
Title:  "Transforming Care: Toward A Reformed Christian Perspective on Nursing"
    
How does a Reformed Christian worldview form our conceptualization of nursing practice? Does the current emphasis on evidence-based practice preclude the idea of nursing as a vocation as well as a profession? The tension between nursing as a science, based only in theoretical knowledge, and the spiritual nature of nursing as Christian service will be examined. A brief summary of a spiritual history in nursing will be discussed from the pre-Christian era through the present day. Practices and attitudes of caregivers throughout history have been informed by spiritual belief systems. What meaning does this historical perspective have for the contemporary practice of nursing? Five metaparadigm concepts of nursing will be examined and related to present day practice in the profession of nursing: caring, person, health, environment and nursing. The definition of those metaparadigm concepts influences the nurse's ethical stance and affects ethical decision making in today's complex health care system. Finally, a holistic perspective of nursing and the Christian mandate will be related to the principles of health promotion and health protection within the discipline of nursing.


Friday, April 5, 2002, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Prof. David Van Baak, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College.  Calvin Lecturer 2001-2002.
Title:  "Cosmology and the Role of Presuppositions in Science"
    
Of all the fields of human knowledge, mathematics and the natural science are those that are most often assumed to be universal, value-free, obligatory, and independent of pre-suppositions and prejudices. In these fields, if any, one may hope that all scholars will necessarily be constrained by reason and evidence to reach a consistent set of conclusions. While vast amounts of the content of the sciences do indeed reveal this kind of convergence, there are interesting areas in which consensus is not achieved, and may never be achieved. In this lecture, I will explore those places in the natural sciences where essential disagreements persist, and illustrate in the field of cosmology the reasons for the disagreements. In particular, I will describe the role of presuppositions, and extra-scientific assumptions, in motivating theories about the character and origin of the universe. This talk is intended for a general audience of persons interested in science.


Friday, April 12, 2002, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Jared Knoll, Biotechnology major, Calvin College.
Title: "The Biotech Century: Brave New World, or Just a Better One?"
    
In his book "The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World," Jeremy Rifkin argues that the applications of biotechnology are likely to make the world of our children and grandchildren fundamentally different from ours. With such chapter titles as "A Eugenic Civilization," "Patenting Life," and "Reinventing Nature," it is clear that Rifkin does not think this will be a change for the better. Through his books and lectures, Rifkin, along with numerous other anti-biotech groups, is attempting to persuade the general public to agree with him. In contrast to the warnings of Rifkin and others, however, stand biotechnology's potential benefits. If these benefits are possible, then if Rifkin is successful in convincing the public that biotech is to something be feared he will have persuaded them to oppose an increase in their quality of life. The argument for the use of biotechnology (and technology in general) can be framed in terms of a "presumptive case." Additionally, when the benefits of biotech are thought of as applicable not only to oneself but to all people, the argument for continuing its development takes on the spiritual dimension of service and love for one's neighbor. Lest Rifkin and other activist groups succeed in their goal of convincing the public that biotechnology is inherently wrong, those most knowledgeable about it need to be vocal in the general public debate. People with knowledge of biotechnology have a responsibility to let average Americans know that by continuing with biotechnology, we are not necessarily dooming our children to a "Brave New World."


Friday, April 19, 2002, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
James Turner, Mathematics Dept, Calvin College.
Title: "Where does mathematics come from? A Christian perspective."
    
In trying to understand where our ability to do mathematics comes from, a dilemma arises when coming to terms with both its subjective nature, in that it can be constructed and explored by individuals, and its "unreasonable effectiveness" in its applications. In attempting to address this paradox, philosophical positions, ranging from constructivism to Platonism, have all been declared to fall short of producing a resolution. In this talk, I will describe how the horns of this dilemma have hung up these various philosophical positions and indicate how the failure to provide such a resolution has been at root a result of a certain degree of commitment to naturalism. Finally, I will describe a rudimentary Christian perspective which has the potential of producing a resolution by going between the horns.


Friday, September 27, 2002, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Deborah Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Dept, Calvin College.
Title: "The Skies Proclaim the Work of His Hands:  What modern astronomy is telling us about the attributes of God."
     
Astronomical discoveries in recent decades have greatly expanded our understanding of planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe.  For people of all worldviews, these discoveries evoke amazement and wonder.  How can scientists of different worldviews share the same scientific methods and results, and yet disagree about God's existence and role in the universe?  For Christians, who understand science as the study of God's creation, these discoveries illustrate God's beauty, power, faithfulness, creativity, immensity, and love.  This talk will be presented to Christian school teachers on October 11, 2002, at the NWCSI-CTABC Convention (Northwest Christian Schools International and Christian Teachers Association of British Columbia).


Friday, October 11, 2002, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Stephen Matheson, Biology Department, Calvin College.
Title: "Asa Gray: Darwin's Defender or Darwin's Fool?"
    
Asa Gray (1810-1888) was already considered the finest American botanist (and perhaps biologist) of his time when, in 1860, he paused from his voluminous taxonomic work to launch a "defense" of Charles Darwin and his Origin of Species. A congregationalist Calvinist, Gray argued strenuously against various theological (and scientific) criticisms of Darwin and his theory. In addition, throughout the rest of his life, he engaged Darwin in a personal discussion of the implications of common descent with regard to the concepts of design and purpose. Reflection on Gray's ideas, and on his approach to the doubts and fears of his friend and colleague, is challenging and instructive.


Friday, November 22, 2002, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Steve Wykstra, Philosophy Department, Calvin College.
Title: "Anomalous Suspension Revisited: Worldview Shaping, Realist Historiography of Science, and the Boyle-Huygens Debate"
    
In the early 1660's, Christian Huygens visited London, read Boyle's newly-published "New Experiments touching the Spring of Air," and returned to Holland to build his own vacuum pump. He quickly 'discovered' a new phenomenon of "anomalous suspension." Basically, he purged water of air by keeping in an evacuated receiver several days; he then used the purged water to create a water-barometer; and he placed this under a bell jar which he evacuated. According to the reigning hypothesis, the water-level should drop (since it is air pressure that holds the water or mercury up in the inverted tube). Huygens found it didn't drop: it remained anomalously "suspended." Huygens's reports caused consternation back in London, where Hooke and other tried for a year to replicate his results. It was the "cold fusion" of the 1660's. When Huygens returned to London to help them, Hooke and his cohorts were finally able to duplicate the phenomenon. They never did figure it out, and in 1670's, Huygen's made it a linchpin of his aether-theoretic research programme. The controversy over anomalous suspension neatly illustrates the interplay between experiment, hypotheses, research programs, and (perhaps) religious worldviews. It is also at the core of a 1985 book by Simon Shapin and Steven Schaffer's: "Leviathan and the Air-pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life." This book is pivotal to the anti-realist sociological interpretations of science that rose to prominence in the 1980's. In my talk, I will give a fuller account of the episode, Shapin and Schaffer's use of it, and a progress report on my work so far working through the primary literature on anomalous suspension. If anyone would like homework, email me and I will ICM the relevant chapter of Shapin and Schaffer's book. I haven't tried to do the experiment yet, but by next Friday, who knows?


Friday, December 6, 2002, 3:45 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker:
Karen J. Vander Laan, Nursing Department, Calvin College.
Title: "Teaching Virtues: Using 4MAT Lesson Design to Integrate Knowledge, Skills & Virtues"
    
This interactive presentation will discuss using a learning cycle to design instruction and assessment that helps students acquire knowledge, skills, and virtues. The 4MAT System® will be introduced with an emphasis on how content can be taught as a study of a virtue. Assessment strategies for all octants of the learning cycle will be discussed. Participants will experience a 4MAT learning cycle first-hand as we discuss the challenges of teaching and assessing virtues.


Friday, March 7, 2003, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Loren Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College.
Title: "Creation or Curse? Entropy, Earthquakes, Mosquitoes and Malaria"
     In Reformed theology, the effects of the Fall are pervasive, affecting all of creation. So it is tempting for us to blame everything which annoys or hurts us on the Fall. When we study creation scientifically, however, we find that many of the things which can annoy or hurt us -- from tiny viruses to the second law of thermodynamics -- play an important, natural, and perhaps even inevitable part in the functioning of God's complex and amazing creation. We shouldn't be hasty to blame something on the Fall which was part of God's good design. We'll explore this topic in a range of areas from the laws of physics to biology to human behavioral dispositions.


Friday, March 28, 2003, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Douglas Kindschi, Dean of Science & Professor of Mathematics, Grand Valley State University
Title: "What Can Mathematics Contribute to the Science-Religion Discussion?"
     The Science-Religion literature has grown dramatically in the past few decades, producing hundreds of books and even more articles. Very little, however, has been said about Mathematics' contribution to this discussion. One significant exception is the book by Bradley and Howell, Mathematics in Postmodern Age: A Christian Perspective. While on a "mini-sabbatical" at Calvin College, I have been reading and working on this topic, and I would like to share some preliminary thoughts. In particular, I will present the quests in Mathematics for definition, truth, foundation and certainty, and how these issues might inform the science-religion discussion.


Friday, April 11, 2003, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Gayle E. Ermer, Engineering Department, Calvin College.
Title: "Teaching Professional Ethics in Engineering and the Sciences"
     Professional occupations in technology, mathematics, and the sciences provide opportunities for Christians to pursue their vocation, the calling to serve God and others by reforming his creation. As Christian educators, we are concerned with ensuring that our graduates have the skills and dispositions necessary to make ethical choices as they pursue the ideals of their disciplines. Secular professional societies and educators are becoming increasingly concerned with promoting ethical standards as well. What is meant by professional ethics? How are professional ethics and Christian faith related? How can these concepts be taught? Some suggestions for integrating the study of ethics into professional programs and courses will be presented, along with examples from the field of engineering.


Friday, April 25, 2003, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Egbert Schuurman, Professor, Department of Christian Philosophy, Technological Universities of Delft and Eindhoven and the Agricultural University of Wageningen
Title: "Deliverance from the Technological Worldview: Redirection in the Ethics of Technology"
     The overwhelming uncritical attitude toward technology can have potentially disastrous effects. An "ethics of technology" is required. Such an ethics must concern itself with humanity's good and responsible conduct in and through technology. Generally speaking, since modern times there has been a mentality of technological control. All questions relating to spiritual reflection and religious problems are ruled out. Motives, values and norms are derived from a technological worldview. This "technological ethics" is the cause of many threats and problems. It is characterized by a cosmological deficit and an ethical deficit. It is only possible to overcome these deficits by a reorientation in culture and in ethics. The Enlightenment ought to be enlightened. The cosmology of reality as God's creation, and the commandments of love, give a possibility for the redirection of an ethics of technology. A responsible cultural and technological development summons a representation of culture that depicts earth as a garden tended by humans. Technology must be developed within the perspective of the earth as one large garden-city. In an ethics of responsibility, attention is given to the central motive of love, contrasted with the central motive of power of the technological worldview. For a justified, responsible technology, the ethical challenge is finding not only true motives, but also true environment values, technological values and social values. At the end of the lecture, attention is paid to the consequences for the practice of this ethical-philosophical view and to the differences from those views which are currently held.


Friday, September 26, 2003, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Kenneth Piers, Chemistry Department, Calvin College.
Title: "The End of Oil"
     The economies of the US and the entire developed world depend heavily on the availability of the exceedingly convenient, useful, and relatively inexpensive resource we know simply as "oil." Since, as far as we know, oil is a resource that is nonrenewable within historic time scales, its supply is limited. Therefore, since demand for oil continues to increase, we can expect that at some time in the future, world oil production will reach a peak and then begin a decline. How long will it be before world oil production reaches its peak? Is there reason for concern? This seminar will explore some of the issues surrounding the debate about these questions.


Friday, October 10, 2003, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Ralph Stearley, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College.
Title: "George McCready Price and the Foundation of Flood Geology"
     George McCready Price is credited with launching the 20th-century "flood geology" movement.  His long publishing career spanned over 50 years.  From the start (Illogical Geology, 1906), his publications claimed that biostratigraphers were guilty of attempting to erect a "cosmogony" from limited observations combined with a priori assumptions.  In Q.E.D., Or New Light on the Doctrine of Creation (1917) Price compared the activities of geologists to those of librarians, sorting the various strata according to a completely artificial system, likened to a card index.  Price based this critique on faulty spatial reasoning.  Price also reasoned that all fossil assemblages were preserved discrete contemporaneous ecological assemblages.  For example, coal-bearing units typically assigned to the Carboniferous, Cretaceous and Tertiary periods were originally synchronic, representing assorted ecozones present prior to the great flood of Noah.  Unfortunately, Price accomplished most of his geological research by reading reports and textbooks authored by others.  Lacking significant field experience, Price interpreted all sedimentary structures and textures as the result of a near-instantaneous occurrence; the sorting and shuffling of fossil assemblages he felt must have occurred during a single event.  If Price could compare the systematic labors of biostratigraphers to those of librarians, then his own method resembled that of a blackjack dealer.  Price's stratigraphic arguments would be repeated, with amplification, in influential recent-creationist works such as The Genesis Flood (1961) by Morris and Whitcomb.


Friday, October 24, 2003, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Paul Moes, Psychology Department, Calvin College.
Title: "Rational, Emotional, and Moral Brains:  Implications for Teaching and Learning"
     Research in cognitive neuroscience has demonstrated that our brains function by using "semi-independent" modules to process and respond to our world.  Only recently has attention been focused on the role of emotional processing modules in influencing conscious cognitive processes.  This presentation will review recent research findings, as well as some of the presenter's own research on emotional processing in the left and right hemispheres.  Implications of these findings for teaching and learning at Calvin College will also be discussed.


Friday, November 7, 2003, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Scott Hoezee, Minister of Preaching and Administration, Calvin Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Title: "Science on Sunday: A Pastor's Perspective"
     By the time the average seminarian becomes ordained, the chances are good that this freshly minted pastor will know less about science than most college graduates.  Although it may have changed, not long ago at Calvin College the moment a student declared that he or she would be pursuing a pre-seminary track, nearly all core curriculum science requirements vanished.  This dearth of scientific knowledge is not much helped at the seminary level, either, as most theological schools likewise do not address science in depth.  The result is that pastors feel ill-equipped to handle science, don't know much about it to begin with, and so their engagement with this broad and ever-expanding field of inquiry is limited to pop stereotypes that "all science boils down to evolution (which, as everyone ostensibly knows, is the enemy of the faith)."  However, I believe that this lack of scientific engagement constitutes a dreadful mistake for pastors.  Not only is science a part of daily life in the 21st century, there is also so much that can be gained from science in terms of understanding our Creator's cosmos, being properly curious about the world, and so using scientific knowledge as reasons for doxology.  In this talk I wish to suggest some of the reasons why I believe this is the case and proffer some suggestions as to how preachers can integrate science into their work, seeking from those who attend this meeting still other ideas for how pastors could fruitfully weave science and scientific knowledge into the worship life of the church.


Friday, February 13, 2004, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Rev. Alvin VanderGriend, Prayer-Evangelism Associate for Harvest Prayer Ministries; & Douglas VanderGriend, Chemistry Department, Calvin College.
Title: "The Scientific Efficacy of Prayer"
     Scientific experiments to verify the power of prayer have been conceived of as early as 1872. Even as the evidence mounts, questions remain as to the interpretation and appropriateness of such studies.  Prayer being the mentative interaction between the natural and the supernatural, its study epitomizes the elusive harmony between science and religion. We aim to explore how the measurability, reproducibility, and causality of the efficacy of prayer can be integrated with a Christian Reformed world view.


Friday, March 12, 2004, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Rebecca J. Flietstra, Associate Professor of Biology, Point Loma Nazarene University.
Title: "The Human Creature"
     For millennia, we have sought to define who exactly we are as human beings. The two main approaches to this self-definition are the scientific/philosophical approach and the religious/theological approach. The biological understanding of human nature has been shaped by evolutionary theory, genetics, and the neurosciences. For Christians, a theological understanding of human nature centers, in part, on the doctrine of the image of God. Because these two approaches have been generated by two seemingly disparate worldviews, they are frequently presented as incompatible with—and even diametrically opposed to—each other. In this talk I will discuss how Christians might think of the human person in a way that incorporates insights from both modern biology and Christian theology. In this way I hope to uncover a richer understanding of both human biology and the human creature as imago Dei.


Tuesday, March 30, 2004, 7:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Prince Conference Center
                                (Sponsored by Templeton/ASA Lecture Series)
Speaker: Sir Ghillean Prance, former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, adjunct professor at the City University of New York and a visiting professor at the University of Reading.
Title: "Can We Allow Climate to Change and Biodiversity to Become Extinct?"
     The lecture will show the seriousness of the current environmental crisis focusing on issues of climate change and the loss of biodiversity.  Examples of damage to biodiversity will largely be taken from the lecturer's extensive experience in tropical South America.  It will particularly ask questions to Christians about whether we can stand by while such serious damage is being done to Creation and challenge the audience to be more active carers for creation.  The lecture will be in the Great Hall of the Prince Conference Center and is free and open to the public.


Wednesday, March 31, 2004, 12:30 p.m. in Science Building room 010. (note: basement of Science Building)

                                (Sponsored by Templeton/ASA Lecture Series)
Speaker: Sir Ghillean Prance, former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, adjunct professor at the City University of New York and a visiting professor at the University of Reading.
Title: "The Eden Project"
     The Eden Project (www.edenproject.com) in Cornwall, England, is a massive undertaking to convert an abandoned quarry into conservatories featuring the major biomes and their botanical specimens of the Earth.  It's mission is "to promote the understanding and responsible management of the vital relationship between plants, people and resources leading to a sustainable future for all."  Sir Ghillean Prance serves as the Scientific Director for this project.  The scriptural roots of the name of this project are intentional, as are many of the principles of environmental stewardship.  Come for an enjoyable presentation on "The Eden Project."


Friday, April 16, 2004, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Stephen Matheson, Biology Department, Calvin College.
Title: "The Future in the Instant: What human embryonic stems cells can do, and where they are taking us"
     Mammalian embryonic stem cells (ES cells) have been the focus of intense research for decades, and their use has reshaped the study of mammalian genetics and development.  The utility of ES cells derives from the combination of effectively unlimited developmental potential with relative ease of use and genetic manipulation.  Human embryonic stem cells were first isolated in 1998, and were welcomed with enthusiastic predictions of future therapeutic benefits along with significant ethical objections to their creation.  Popular debate since then has focused on the tension between the therapeutic potential of the cells and the moral costs of generating them.  Opponents of the use of human ES cells have posed challenges based on both therapeutic potential and moral costs.  We will examine these two values and their scientific bases, considering the latest findings in this fast-moving field of research.  Then we will examine the ramifications of a future in which neither therapeutic utility nor the current moral objections can constitute a significant barrier to the generation of human ES cells.  Christians are right to be concerned about how ES cells currently are made, but that will probably change dramatically in the near future.  I will argue therefore that Christians should be even more concerned about what stem cells can do, and soon will do.


Friday, April 30, 2004, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 010. (note: basement of Science Building).

                                 Co-sponsored by the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship
Speaker: Dave Young, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College.
Title: "John Calvin and the Natural World"
     An important way in which one might be a "Calvinist" in regard to the practice of science is to apply Calvin's principle of accommodation to the interpretation of biblical passages with "scientific" relevance. For Calvin, any divine revelation to or divine interaction with people requires that God accommodate or adapt himself to the limited capacities of the human creature. Calvin employed this principle in dealing with biblical representations of the incomprehensible God and the different modes of revelation of Old and New Testaments, but he also found use for it in understanding biblical references to the natural world. In effect, the divine and human authors of Scripture couched their message of redemption in terms of the understanding and comprehension of the natural world possessed by those to whom that message was first addressed. I suggest that contemporary Calvinists might apply the principle of accommodation to seeming disparities between our contemporary knowledge of the natural world and biblical references to the natural world, e.g., the foolish ostrich of Job 39:13-18; the waters under the Earth of Exodus 20:4 and Psalm 24:2; the expanse of Genesis 1:6 and Ezekiel 1:22, 25; the deluge; and the cobra of Psalm 58:4.


Friday, May 7, 2004, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 010 (note: basement of Science Building).

                                 Co-sponsored by the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship
Speaker: Dennis Danielson, Professor and Associate Head of the Dept. of English, University of British Columbia.
Title: "Copernicus and the Tale of the Pale Blue Dot"
     Most of us have at some point heard the claim that Copernicus, by "dethroning" earth from the center of the universe, "showed" that the Earth and Earth's inhabitants are cosmically not very special.  This claim is routinely extrapolated to function as a principle ― the "Copernican Principle" ― according to which not only is Earth merely one planet among many, but also the Milky Way is merely one galaxy among many, and perhaps what we think of as the whole cosmos is merely one universe among many.  Moreover, this "principle" is enlisted to show that science trumps religion: while religion wants to enthrone Earth-dwelling human beings in the center of the universe, science authoritatively demonstrates (in more ways than one) the "mediocrity" of our place.  From Fontenelle in the seventeenth century to Carl Sagan in the late twentieth, Copernicus is thus used to bring down human pride, which supposedly stems from our naive religious illusions.  Unfortunately, this comic-book version of the meaning of Copernicus is all but universally accepted by many educated people, including some scientists, whose capacity to weigh evidence ought to make them capable of a more well-informed, critical view.  An effort to attain such a critical view ― based on the exciting words Copernicus and his followers, and on a measure of undogmatic careful thinking ― can revitalize our perception not only of Copernicus in his own age but also of the interplay between science and metascientific assumptions today.


Friday, October 8, 2004, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110

                                 Co-sponsored by the Calvin College Philosophy Department
                                 Co-sponsored by the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship
Speaker: Steven Horst, Associate Professor and Chair, Philosophy Department, Wesleyan University.
Title: "Consciousness Studies, Philosophy of Science and Theology: 
                    Why the Sciences Do Not Threaten Consciousness, Free Will or Miracles"


Tuesday, October 12, 2004, 7:30 p.m. in the Calvin College Chapel
                                (Sponsored by Templeton/ASA Lecture Series)
Speaker: Robert N. Wennberg, Professor, Philosophy Department, Westmont College.
Title: "But It's Only a Rat!  Christian Reflections on Painful Animal Research"


Friday, October 29, 2004, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110
Speaker:  Steve Wykstra, Philosophy Department, Calvin College.
Title: "The Birth of Mathematical Astronomy: 
               Observational Equivalence, Simplicity, and Metaphysics in Ptolemy and Copernicus"
     Versions of the "realism vs instrumentalism" debate have played an important role in shaping developments within science up to the twentieth century and beyond.  (Ludwig Boltzmann, on a not-implausible interpretation, was plunged into depression and suicide by refusal of his fellow physicists to take seriously the atomism at the heart of his "realist" interpretation of thermodynamics—this refusal arising largely from the insistence on a "phenomenological" approach to thermodynamics, fitting the then-fashionable positivistic instrumentalism of Ernst Mach, W. Ostwald, and others.)  But this debate has deep historical antecedents, as shown by the pioneering historical/philosophical  work of Pierre Duhem in his 1909 book Saving the Appearances (Duhem himself being an important physicist and Christian believer with an instrumentalist orientation).  Ever since Duhem, historians of science have tended to see the "Saving the Appearances" tradition in astronomy as reflecting an "instrumentalist" approach to theorizing—that is, an approach that regards theories purely as "useful fictions" or calculating "instruments," enabling us to predict the observed phenomena (or "appearances"), rather than as models purporting to describe what is really out there.  An instrumentalist orientation, it is thought, lies behind both the split between physics and astronomy in the period after Ptolemy, and also in the "Wittenberg" interpretation of Copernicanism, allowing 16th century Lutherans under Melancthon to have their cake and eat it too—that is, to pioneer in adopting and improving Copernicus's theory (as an "instrument"), while still embracing geocentrism as the truth of the matter.  My talk will review:  (1) the way that that ostensibly "empirically equivalent" devices within Ptolemaic astronomy (the option between the eccentric and the epicycle, both of which "saved the appearances") generated some impetus toward some version of "instrumentalism;" (2) the role that considerations of metaphysics and simplicity played in addressing such empirical underdetermination for Ptolemy and for Copernicus; and (3) some of the recent work that may shed further light on why it is not quite right to view either Ptolemaic astronomers or Lutheran astronomers as "instrumentalists."


Friday, November 12, 2004, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110
Speaker:  John H. Scofield, Professor and Chair, Physics and Astronomy Department, Oberlin College.

Title: "Green" Academic Buildings:  Good Stewardship or Temples for a New Religion?
     There is growing interest in "green" buildings, particularly on university and college campuses.  Green building projects range from the incorporation of modest energy-saving features in otherwise conventional campus buildings to the construction of elaborate environmental centers with photovoltaic arrays intended to generate more energy than they use.  In my talk I will discuss the design and energy performance of two green academic buildings, Oberlin College's Lewis Environmental Center and Stanford University's Leslie Shao Ming Sun Field Station.  Though sharing many of the same goals, the designs of these two buildings reflect very different philosophies and methods.  These two cases offer the opportunity to discuss some of the larger energy/educational issues associated with green academic buildings.  In particular, I will raise concerns about the bad science behind the promotion of all-electric buildings, heat pumps, photovoltaic arrays, and fuel cells as "silver-bullet solutions" to our nation's growing energy problems.  Finally, I will discuss what I believe to be the root cause of this misguided energy education: the worship of the creation, rather than the Creator.


Friday, December 3, 2004, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110
                                 Co-sponsored by the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship
Speaker: Henk Aay; Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College.
Title:  Christian Philosophy, Spatiality and Geography
     One of the fundamental elementary concepts in geography is spatiality (space, spatial). In the history of science and philosophy, space has been regarded as a substance, a relationship, a perceptual framework and as an aspect or property of things.  This seminar will consider the relevance of reformational philosophy for a systematic understanding of the place of the "spatial" in all of the different kinds of things in our world.  For example: How is economic spatiality different from social and physical spatiality?  How do spatial analogies (e.g. a person's "social position") open still wider windows on the meaning and place of the spatial?


Friday, December 10, 2004, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110
                                 Co-sponsored by the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship
Speaker: Janel Curry; Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College.
Title:  The Problem of Boundaries
     This talk addresses issues of the relationship between society and nature through an analysis of New Zealand's marine resource management policies.  Two broad themes are explored: 1) that the act of bounding property and resources cannot be separated from the building of boundaries between and among people, and that 2) boundary construction reflects our views on the relationship between nature and humans -- the nature-culture boundary.  A case study is presented, based on research conducted on Northern Great Barrier Island, New Zealand.  The research involved a cross-section of people who represented a variety of marine resource stakeholder groups.  Assumptions on the nature-culture boundary reflected in policy as well as among the different stakeholder groups are presented, as well as alternative ways of viewing the "problem of boundaries."


Friday, February 18, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110
                                 Co-sponsored by the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship
Speaker: David Koetje; Biology Department, Calvin College.
Title:  Place-based agbiotech: Bridging ideological divisions over genetically modified crops
     "It is rather remarkable," writes anthropologist Glenn Davis Stone, "that a process as esoteric as the genetic modification of crops would become the subject of a global war of rhetoric."  Yet this is where we find ourselves today.  Agbiotech's critics advocate substantial changes, a moratorium, or an outright ban on GM crops.  Most base their assertions on an ecologically-based or agrarian view of agriculture.  Agbiotech proponents counter that GM crops are necessary to sustain agriculture and reduce environmental risks.  Yet in making this claim, most fail to question agbiotech's underlying industrial paradigm, which has a notorious record of ignoring cultural and environmental contexts.  Are we at an ideological impasse, as some have asserted?  In the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship-supported book we are writing, Uko Zylstra and I contend that if agbiotech proponents would adopt a place-based paradigm, then critics would be more likely to consider agbiotech.  A place-based approach would primarily seek to improve ecological and cultural resilience within bioregions, or foodsheds, and in this way promote sustainability.  Our vision is spurred by a Christian environmental perspective that embraces a careful balance between humanity's place in nature and our limited power over nature.


Friday, March 4, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Laura Smit, Dean of the Chapel & Assistant Professor of Religion, Calvin College.
Title: The Truth of a Tree:  Logos Christology as a Foundation for a Christian Environmental Ethic
     Pre-modern Christian theology took seriously the gospel of John's claim that Jesus is the Logos, the eternal Word of the Father, understanding Christ as the one who holds the universe together and whose work in creation is to give each creature its individual form and design.  More recent approaches to Christology have typically emphasized the humanity of Christ rather than emphasizing his role in creation; however, traditional Logos Christology remains a powerful way to understand the on-going work of Christ in the natural world.  The 13th-century Franciscan Bonaventure was an advocate for such Logos Christology, and in that context he presented nature as an arena within which we make contact with God.  In that arena, the human knower fulfills a priestly role.  Bonaventure suggests that we can know the physical world truly only when we know it in Christ and that when we know it in this way we perform a priestly act by offering the natural world back to God in our knowing of it.  To know in this way is not to have dominion in any destructive sense.  It is rather to open oneself to the truth of things, to their place in God's design, and to come to understand the world as it relates to God rather than as it relates to us.  This is a humble and hospitable approach to interacting with nature, which continues to be viable today.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Karen Vander Laan, Nursing Department, Calvin College.
Title:  Partnering with Faith Communities to Promote Advance Care Planning
     Advance Care Planning (ACP) is a desirable process of individual and community reflection, discussion, and communication about end-of-life care preferences.  However, with a < 40% prevalence of ACP in the general population, there is often uncertainty of individuals' preferences for care and potentially undesired treatment.  During this seminar the philosophical and ethical bases for ACP will be reviewed.  A conceptual model of the decision processes in ACP, mostly influenced by the Decision Process Model, will be discussed.  A descriptive study of ACP in one Midwestern city's faith communities will be presented.  Study participants are individuals who voluntarily attended ACP information programs conducted by ACP Facilitators.  The sample of 100 participants includes adult men and women from diverse faith communities.  This descriptive study provides a baseline understanding of how members of faith communities understand and use advance care plans and the immediate effect of ACP programs.  For the longer term, this study lays the groundwork for an evaluation of the effectiveness of faith communities as promoters of ACP.  The seminar will conclude with a discussion of the role of faith communities in promoting ACP.


Friday, April 1, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
                                 Sponsored by the Metanexus Local Society Initiative of Calvin College and the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship
                                                                                                 Contact Prof. Matt Walhout (526-6566) for more information.
Speaker: Gary Gutting, Professor, Philosophy Department, University of Notre Dame.
Title:  Science, Experience, and Philosophy:  from Henri Bergson to Maurice Merleau-Ponty
     Every modern philosophical enterprise has had to guarantee a place for itself by showing that there is something for it to know that escapes the grasp of empirical science.  There have been many vehicles for staking out the domain of philosophy, but one of the most persistently attractive has been the claim that philosophy can and should root itself in an experience with an immediacy or concreteness that escapes the abstractions required for successful empirical science.  This appeal to a distinctive realm of philosophical experience is particularly prominent among the twentieth-century philosophers characterized as "continental," and it has been especially important in the French philosophy of the last one hundred years.  It is, accordingly, appropriate to try to think through the complex questions of science, philosophy, and immediate experience via some reflections on French thinkers.  Here I find the work of two figures, Henri Bergson and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, particularly helpful.  I propose to sketch their critiques of the limitations of scientific knowledge, their consequent conceptions of philosophy as a distinctive epistemic domain, and their disagreements with one another on these topics.


Friday, April 8, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 010 (basement of Science Building)
                                 Sponsored by the Calvin Sociology and Social Work Department
Speaker: John Evans, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego.
Title:  Religious Opinions Concerning Human Reproductive Genetic Technologies
     Life.  Death.  Suffering.  Human purpose.  The limits of human control.  These are all central concepts in the dominant religious traditions in the U.S.  They are also the concepts that many people feel are implicated in reproductive genetic technologies such as genetic testing, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, cloning, and so on.  To take the oft-repeated phrase: reproductive genetic technologies are often accused of "playing God."  It is not only the experts that see these connections -- the religious beliefs of average Americans are central to predicting their attitudes about these technologies.  In this lecture I will give preliminary findings of a nation-wide study of the views of religiously oriented Americans toward reproductive genetic technologies.  I will discuss some general conclusions taken from in-depth, inductive surveys of different religious groups, including Jews, Catholics, Mainline Protestants, Evangelicals, and the non-religious.  I will give examples from the interview data about topics such as whether different religious traditions hold different notions of suffering, which in turn lead to different conclusions about the need for these technologies.  I will also present findings on how the public thinks we should debate these topics:  whether we should use our religious language in debates about these most religious of topics.


Friday, April 15, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
                                 Sponsored by the Metanexus Local Society Initiative of Calvin College and the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship
                                                                                                 Contact Prof. Matt Walhout (526-6566) for more information.
Speaker:  Lambert Zuidervaart, Professor of Philosophy, Institute for Christian Studies.
Title:  Truth and Interpretation:  Science, Religion and Culture
     Philosophers often characterize science as a pursuit of truth, and they regard truth as scientific truth. Truth is propositional, they say, and it pertains to the relation between propositions and facts. I shall argue that this misconstrues both science and truth. It overlooks the cultural and religious character of science, and it reduces truth to only one of its dimensions.  First I shall comment on Martin Heidegger's claim that propositional truth stems from the "disclosedness" of human existence. In partial agreement with Heidegger, I shall then portray truth as a dynamic correlation between human fidelity and societal disclosure. Truth calls for our faithfulness to societal principles such as solidarity and justice. It also calls forth the flourishing of all creatures in their interconnections. So truth is to be lived, and not simply claimed.  Yet making assertions and testing propositions are vital to the pursuit of truth. Further, the sciences have a special role in this regard: scientists should strive for empirical accuracy and propositional correctness in order to serve human fidelity and societal disclosure. Interpreting what such service means is indispensable to scientific endeavors. Hence science is hermeneutical, and so is scientific truth. This does not make scientific truth any less true, however. Rather, by rooting science in culture and religion, interpretation keeps science connected with the ongoing dynamic of truth.


Friday, April 29, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Elise Crull, Physics major, Calvin College.
Title: A Student's Perspective on Integrating Faith and Science
     The project of Calvin's education is rare in that it not only intends to train students rigorously in both their discipline and their faith, but also attempts to synthesize the students' maturing faiths with their academic pursuits.  As a student who has spent (nearly) four years pondering and grappling with this synthesis project, I will present my reflections on the Christian interpretation arrived at through my undergraduate experience.  Has this Christian hermeneutic (as specifically applied toward the inquiries of physics) been successful?  Is this evident in my science?  Is "synthesis" the most appropriate mode through which to approach science as a Christian?  My hope in sharing these thoughts is to present a student's honest perspective on the endeavor of uniting faith and science at Calvin.


Friday, May 6, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Mike Stob, Mathematics and Statistics Department, Calvin College.
Title: Is the Continuum Hypothesis True or False?
     The Continuum Hypothesis (CH) is an important open question concerning the "size" of the infinite set of real numbers.  It is more than open – we now know that we cannot settle the question on the basis of the currently accepted set of axioms for set theory.  This situation has caused some to claim that CH doesn't even have a truth value.  This position, if correct, has consequences for those who want to hold to an ontology of mathematics that embraces realism.  The status of CH, at the very least, presents a challenge for those who claim that a Christian is naturally led to a realist's view of mathematical objects.  In this talk, I will attempt to give a precise statement of the Continuum Hypothesis suitable for non-mathematicians, outline the current state of knowledge about its truth value, and describe the various philosophical positions that are popular consequences of thinking about CH.


Friday, September 16, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Ken Piers, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Calvin College.
Title: Sustainability: An Opportunity for the Calvin Curriculum
     The sustainability of civilization is, of course, not a novel question. Already over 200 years ago Thomas Malthus suggested that meeting the needs of a geometrically increasing population could not be achieved by an arithmetically increasing production of the basic means of subsistence. More recently, in 1972, the Club of Rome report suggested that unless steps were taken to address fundamental aspects of modern economic life, modern culture would reach the limits to growth sometime "within the next 100 years." Now these concerns come to us with renewed force. In this lecture we will present some of the "signs of the times" that suggest that there exist significant threats to the long-term viability of modern culture, threats which, if not addressed, may result in the emergence of very significant challenges for the survival of civilization as we know it. We will also suggest that an appropriate response to this state of affairs by Calvin College is to begin to address these issues in a systematic way in our curriculum, and will conclude by suggesting one way in which we may begin to achieve this goal.


Friday, October 7, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Douglas Kindschi, Professor of Mathematics and Philosophy, Grand Valley State University.
Title: Chastened Realism:  Mathematics as a Model for  Theology
     What is the nature of theological discourse?  Is it a form of science, does it explain reality, is it a useful fiction, is it art or literature?   Rarely do we ask how it might be related to mathematics.  This is in spite of the fact that mathematics historically has had a major impact on how we understand knowledge in philosophy and in theology.  This paper will argue that mathematics can and should again become an active partner in the science and theology discussion.  Furthermore, structural realism in mathematics –– which is different from scientific realism –– is a better model for theology.  The emphasis on relationship, pattern and structure provides an alternative model to the object orientation and empirical method of the natural sciences.  I will be presenting a draft of a paper on this topic prepared as a part of my sabbatical project last semester.


Thursday, October 13, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in the Meeter Center Lecture Hall.
                                 Sponsored by the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies
Speaker: Christopher B. Kaiser, Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Western Theological Seminary.
Title: Beliefs in Natural Science, Then and Now
     It is now generally recognized that early modern scientists were motivated by various religious beliefs.  However, historians and philosophers still often assume that the beliefs of early scientists either were abandoned by later scientists or became peripheral to scientific work.  What seems to have escaped the notice of historians and philosophers alike is the fact that some of the beliefs of early modern scientists have persisted in surprisingly consistent forms.  In support of this revisionist position, I shall identify two distinct beliefs having to do with the comprehensibility of the natural world that occur in the writings of early modern scientists like Johannes Kepler.  I shall discuss some of the forms those beliefs took in medieval Christianity and in Reformers like Philip Melanchthon in order to show their specifically theological character.  Finally I shall illustrate the survival and vitality of these beliefs in modern scientists like Albert Einstein and Paul Davies.


Friday, October 21, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Ralph Stearley; Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College.
Title: Progress and Its Discontents − In the History of Life
     During the last half of the twentieth century, anti-teleological statements concerning the history of life on Earth and processes which contribute to that history have become commonplace among prominent evolutionary biologists.  The course of evolution is held to be opportunistic and unguided.  On the other hand, many nineteenth-century paleontologists and morphologists sensed the opposite.  Charles Darwin, for example, saw the phenomenon of progress as a problem to be explained, rather than eliminated, by the process of natural selection.  Christians are compelled to believe that the triune almighty God acts in a purposive manner.  Furthermore, scripture records that God regards his creation as "good."  Do these considerations provide encouragement for interpreting the history of life as goal-directed?  Or are all human interpretations flawed by our finite capabilities?  Perhaps the notion of progress is difficult to quantify and to demonstrate with certainty.  On the other hand, the notion of "anti-progress" also provides opportunities for selective data presentation and overconfident conclusions on the part of its proponents.  The attack on the idea of progress elaborated by the late Steven J. Gould is an example of such a misrepresentation of the history of life.  A Christian must believe that while the Creator could have devised some solitary "optimal" taxon, God chose to promote organic diversity.  Thus taxonomic diversity is itself a goal.  That being the case, the provision of created machinery for providing this diversity should be acceptable to a Christian.  Discerning providential supervision of such machinery is a matter of faith interpretation and is inherently no different from faith interpretations of individual life history.


Friday, October 28, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Matthew Heun, Engineering Department, Calvin College.
Title: Global Warming and Public Policy
     Discussions about global warming sometimes become hostile, in part because people do not openly and honestly disclose − to themselves or to others − the values underlying their policy proposals.  I will briefly discuss the scientific mechanisms by which global warming is thought to develop and how this data poses important public policy questions.  Reducing carbon emissions in the near term presumably imposes costs on some people (e.g. higher taxes, higher prices).  Failing to reduce carbon emissions presumably imposes higher costs on other people and on later generations.  I will review existing policy proposals regarding global warming, and I will make a modest proposal for a "meme" that could make discussions of global warming, and other public policy issues, less hostile and more open.


Friday, November 18, 2005, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Uko Zylstra, Prof. of Biology and Dean of Natural Sciences, Calvin College.
Title: Evolution Wars: A Failure to Communicate
     It is my contention that a major contributing factor to the "evolution wars," as Time magazine refers to the ongoing debate about the teaching of evolution and intelligent design, is a failure to properly define the meaning of evolution.  The term evolution really has multiple meanings.  Yet when people talk and write about evolution or even the theory of evolution, they seldom distinguish between the various meanings.  So when someone asserts that "evolution is a fact," it is not clear in what sense evolution is a fact.  Further probing will generally make obvious the different degrees of empirical evidence that support the different meanings of evolution.  The result is a deep failure to communicate because different parties talking about evolution do not always use the same meanings of the term.  This also holds for classroom discussions about evolution.  If we are to think critically about the discussion of evolution, creation, and intelligent design, then we need to communicate more effectively by making these important distinctions with regard to the different meanings of evolution.


Wednesday, February 8, 2006, 3:30 p.m. in Meeter Center Lecture Hall.
                                 Co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship
                                 Co-sponsored by Seminars in Christian Scholarship
Speaker: Arie Leegwater, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Calvin College; Association of Reformed Institutions of Higher Education (ARIHE) lecturer, 2005-2006.
Title: Science and Religion: Nature as Interpreted Book
     Reading the book of nature is a common 16th century metaphor used by divines to describe scientific practice.  How valid is this description?  What funds this hermeneutical interpretation of scientific practice?  This lecture will contrast various perceived interrelations of science and religion.  Historians of science have described this relationship as one of conflict, competition, cooperation and dialogue, continuity and intimacy.  If we consider religion to be the central pivot of human existence, which gives life as a whole its ultimate orientation, how might we best view the relationship of science and religion?  Are there historical examples that aid us in this effort?


Friday, March 3, 2006, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Daniel C. Harlow, Religion Department, Calvin College.
Title: Creation in Genesis 1: Genre, Purpose, Truth
     Does Genesis intend to teach factual or scientific truths about creation? Or does it intend to affirm theological truths about God, the world, and the human race? Or does it intend to do both? Christians have always disagreed on these issues and doubtless always will. This presentation argues that the framework in Genesis 1, six days of divine labor plus a seventh day of divine rest, does not represent a historical or temporal framework indicating how God created and how long God took to create. It is rather an analogical framework that aims to depict the created status of everything in the Israelite cosmos. It pictures the formation of the three realms of creation as understood in Israelite cosmology – heavens above, earth beneath, and waters under the earth – and the symmetrical filling of those three realms with creatures suitable to each. In its brief and highly stylized account, Genesis 1 reflects the ancient Israelite cosmology. Its conception of the physical universe is not timelessly valid but culturally relative. The timeless truth of Genesis rather lies in its theological affirmations concerning the sovereignty of God, the goodness of creation, and the purpose of humanity in the divine plan.


Wednesday, March 8, 2006, 3:30 p.m. in the Commons Lecture Hall.
                                 Co-sponsored by Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship
                                 Co-sponsored by Seminars in Christian Scholarship
Speaker: Arie Leegwater, Chemistry & Biochemistry Department, Calvin College; Association of Reformed Institutions of Higher Education (ARIHE) lecturer, 2005-2006.
Title: Putting Science in its Place: The Culture of Scientific Practice
     A sociological reading of scientific practice is presently in vogue. When scientific practice is shaped by local conditions it is no longer considered to be a (the) universal undertaking, but is rather a provincial practice in which site, region and circulation matter. Science does not transcend particularities; it discloses them. For all the rhetoric that scientific practice is independent of class, politics, gender, race, religion, and much else besides, the history of science belies the fact. The social reading of science, advanced during the past few decades, is in sharp contrast to earlier ways of viewing science as an intellectual enterprise which weaves a universal network of binding theories. Such social analysis has become common coin and has elicited sharp rejoinders reflected in the "science wars." But does a social analysis of science and a focus on human interests probe deeply enough? Does such an analysis do justice to the "pre-understandings" required before observations are made, or to the "commitments" of scientists? Can a scientist find meaning in equations, observations, and technical terms by starting from an interpretive, or hermeneutic, framework?


Friday, March 10, 2006, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Ronald A. Buelow, Professor of Mathematics, Bethany Lutheran College
Title: Thinking God's Thoughts after Him
     Man has long copied the designs that God has placed into the universe.  He has placed these designs in us, in the many creatures of His creation, and in the elements and substances that are part of His marvelous creation. This multimedia presentation shows how design and mathematics are created by God, with man discovering it small piece by small piece.


Thursday, April 27, 2006, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Randy Isaac, Executive Director, American Scientific Affiliation
Title:  Science: A Misused Weapon in a Religious War
     If science and Christian faith are in ultimate harmony, why is there so much conflict today in our school boards, churches, classrooms, and courtrooms? The metaphor of war has been used since the late 19th century to describe the severity of the conflict.  The real war is not between science and Christianity but between different religious perspectives, with pseudo-science as the weapon of choice.  Evolutionism, creationism, and the Intelligent Design movement are key combatants in this religious war between metaphysical naturalism and theism. By understanding these forces, we can derive a better perspective of the relationship between science and our Christian faith.


Friday, May 5, 2006, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Judith A. Baker, Nursing Department, Calvin College.
Title: Spiritual Care in Nursing:  Christ Has No Hands But Ours
     As long as nursing has existed, nurses have understood the link between the spirit and the needs of the mind and body.  Even today, in our high-tech healthcare environment, this need is apparent and, in fact, awareness of it has increased.  As we educate nursing students and practice nursing, it is imperative that we understand what the spirit is and how we could and should care for the needs of the spirit.  In nursing we do that through a process which involves assessment, diagnosis, planning, interventions and evaluation. In recent years we have seen a burgeoning of research on topics related to spirituality.  Often these are based on vague or varied definitions of spirituality which leads to questionable comparative results.  Prayer is an activity that is being widely studied, and the results have been cause for both encouragement and dismay.  Making prayer just another tool in the arsenal of healthcare raises questions we need to address.


Friday, September 15, 2006, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Jaap Klapwijk, Free University in Amsterdam.
Title: Is There a Purpose in the Living World?  Some Thoughts about Creation and Emergent Evolution
     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.


Friday, September 29, 2006, 3:45 p.m. in Bunker Interpretive Center Discovery Place.
           
(Or meet in Science Building room 110 at 3:30 to join a group walking to Bunker Interpretive Center.)
Speaker: Cheryl Hoogewind, Calvin Ecosystem Preserve Manager, Calvin College.
Title: Outdoor Experiences for the Young and Young at Heart
    
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."


Friday, October 27, 2006, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: John Cooper, Professor of Philosophical Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary.
Title: Human Origins:  Scientific Theories and Christian Theologies
     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.


Friday, November 3, 2006, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Jim Bradley, Mathematics & Statistics Department, Calvin College.
Title: What is a Number?  Augustine's Philosophy of Mathematics
     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?


Friday, November 10, 2006, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
Speaker: Dr. Jan Peter Verhave, Visiting Research Fellow, Van Raalte Institute, Hope College.
Title: The Realm of Ghosts:  Sickness and Death in the Early Holland Colony
     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.


Friday, November 17, 2006, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Edward B. Davis, Professor of the History of Science, Messiah College.
Title: Intelligent Design on Trial
     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.


Friday, December 1, 2006, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speakers: Larry Molnar and Loren Haarsma, Physics & Astronomy Department, Calvin College.
Title: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life
     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?


Friday, February 2, 2007, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
                          Co-sponsored by the Calvin Philosophy Department
Speaker: Alan Padgett, Professor of Systematic Theology, Luther Seminary; Crosson Fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Religion at Notre Dame University, 2006-2007.
Title: Epiphany for a Small Planet:  Christology, Astronomy, and Mutuality
     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.


Friday, February 9, 2007, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Jim Turner, Mathematics & Statistics Department, Calvin College.
Title:  De ordine creationis: a theological approach to the nature of mathematical reasoning
     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.


Thursday, February 22, 2007, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
                          Co-sponsored by Calvin Engineering Department, Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, and Seminars in Christian Scholarship
Speaker: Charles Adams, Dean of the Natural Sciences and Professor of Engineering, Dordt College;  Association of Reformed Institutions of Higher Education (ARIHE) Lecturer, 2006-2008.
Title: Naturalism, Nanotechnology, and Our "Post-human" Future: A Reformed Perspective
     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.


Friday, February 23, 2007, 3:30 p.m. in the Meeter Center Lecture Hall.
                          Co-sponsored by Calvin Engineering Department, Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, and Seminars in Christian Scholarship
Speaker: Charles Adams, Dean of the Natural Sciences and Professor of Engineering, Dordt College;  Association of Reformed Institutions of Higher Education (ARIHE) Lecturer, 2006-2008.
Title: Teaching "Technical Courses" from a Christian Perspective:  A Reformed Approach to Pedagogy
     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.


Friday, September 21, 2007, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Ronald Larson, Chair and George Granger Brown Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan.
Title: Revisiting the "God of the gaps"
     Antipathy to "God of the gaps" arguments, when taken to its extreme conclusion, leads to passiveness in the face of aggressive, naturalistic, science seeking to claim for itself alone all truth, including that traditionally the province of theology or philosophy.  Such pretensions must be resisted for the sake of science as much as for the sake of theology, and this resistance must not shrink from calling attention to "gaps" or failures of science to explain credibly all that it sometimes claims as its own.  This talk will explore the issues surrounding several chasms in modern scientific explanations, including the fine tuning of natural laws, the origin of life, of human consciousness, of morality, and of human spiritual experience.


Friday, September 28, 2007, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: John Cooper, Professor of Philosophical Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary.
Title: A Classical
Christian Emergent Anthropology
     I'll argue that biblical anthropology presents a holistic or integral view of soul and body, but one in which persons can exist temporarily without earthly bodies.  I'll then present a version of this anthropology – the generically Thomist view that that soul is the subsistent form (organizing, empowering principle) of the material body that constitutes humans as one spiritual-physical substance (not two-substance dualism) – a living organism with human capacities.  But by God's supernatural power, the soul can exist apart from the body between death and resurrection.  (It is not naturally immortal.)  I modify Thomism by opting for a traducian rather than a creationist view of the soul: the union of sperm and egg is not merely biological but produces a new spiritual-physical individual.  The soul does not "emerge" and develop from mere physical stuff by metaphysical magic (as in physicalism), but because the person-spiritual capacities are potentially present from conception.


Friday, October 12, 2007, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 010.
Speaker: Deborah Haarsma and Loren Haarsma, Physics and Astronomy Department, Calvin College.
Title: Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution
     FaithAlive Resources, the publishing ministry of the Christian Reformed Church, asked us to write a book "for the person in the pew" on issues of origins.  In this short seminar, we'll give an overview of the contents of the book and our writing approach, as well as answer audience questions.  The book begins with chapters on God's governance of natural processes, doing science as part of a Christian worldview, and interpretation of scripture.  Other chapters review the scientific, theological, and worldview issues around the age of the Earth, the Big Bang, biological evolution, and intelligent design. The book ends with two chapters on several scientific and theological issues around human origins.  A book reception will follow at 4:15 p.m. in DeVries Hall Atrium.  (Read Calvin College's press release.)


Friday, October 26, 2007, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Janel
Curry,
Dean of Research and Professor of Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies, Calvin College.
Title: Christianity and Climate Change:  Understanding the Range of Responses
     Since Lynn White's famous article on the relationship between Christianity and ecological destruction, many environmental activists have accused this faith community of inaction (or worse – actions that are ecologically destructive), when it comes to environmental protection and health.  However, recent concerns over climate change have led several scientific and environmental organizations to begin to build bridges with the range of Christian traditions – mainline protestant, evangelical, and Catholic – recognizing that all must be part of the solution to global climate change.  This talk helps get beyond the stereotypes of the relationship between Christians and the environment.  A framework is presented for comparing Christian traditions in terms of their attitudes toward environmental issues and policies, along with a discussion of the implications for climate change policy.


Friday, November 30, 2007, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Matthew C. Halteman, Philosophy Department, Calvin College.
Title: Animal Welfare and Global Sustainability:  Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation
     The two-fold purpose of this presentation is (1) to demonstrate the value of questions concerning the just and compassionate treatment of animals ("the animal question") for provoking a more holistic understanding of the wide spectrum of issues organized under the general heading of "creation care"; and (2) to highlight the moral and spiritual significance that the act of eating takes on in light of these important but often hidden connections between animal welfare and global sustainability.      The animal question may at first appear far removed from the most pressing problems of our age. But a closer look reveals that our seemingly trivial daily decisions concerning the use of animals (especially the billions of animals raised for food in confined animal feeding operations or "factory farms") have serious consequences not just for the animals, but for the food, commerce, and education systems of developing countries, the dignity of the human workforce that brings animal products to market, the integrity of rural communities here and abroad, the health of an increasingly obese and diseased human population, the viability of the healthcare systems that treat these ills, the sustainability of the world's natural resources, and even the hastening of global climate change. The ways in which we currently use animals, it turns out, have profound implications for all facets of creation—human, animal, and environmental.       As this evidence of the unintended consequences of industrial livestock production continues to mount, it is becoming increasingly clear that, far from being a trivial matter of personal preference, eating is an activity that has deep moral and spiritual significance. Surprising as it may sound, the simple question of what to eat can prompt us daily to answer God's call to care for creation—to bear witness to the marginalization of the poor, the exploitation of the oppressed, the suffering of the innocent, and the degradation of the natural world, and to participate in the reconciliation of these ills through intentional acts of love, justice, mercy, and good stewardship.


Friday, February 15, 2008, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Richard Colling, Professor of Biology, Olivet Nazarene University.  Author of Random Designer: Created from Chaos to Connect with the Creator.
Title: Randomness, Purpose, God, and Evolution – Can they go together?
     The history books of life – fossils and DNA – reveal a most remarkable creation story.  Over unfathomable eons of prescribed life and death cycles, single-celled life has advanced as a divine, majestic, and interconnected web.  Filling every niche of our dynamic ever-changing planet, evolutionary creation has miraculously culminated in sentient beings capable of self and God-awareness – us!  As Christians desiring to remain faithful and culturally credible in our claim that God is the creator and that all truth is God's truth, we are challenged to work together across faith boundaries seeking ways to effectively integrate knowledge from science into a dynamic and coherent faith.  This talk introduces a new creation "logos" – Random (Equal Opportunity) Design.  Simple, but ultimately profound, random design reflects a God-ordained and sustained paradigm of astonishing creative genius that produces an integrated network of unrivaled biological development.  The talk includes defining appropriate definitions of randomness, the importance of adequate information/dot development, examples of randomness generating remarkable biological order, and a call to expand traditional views of scripture and science to accommodate a bigger, more profound God.


Friday, February 29, 2008, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Patrick Bailey, Computer Science and Information Systems Dept., Calvin College.
Title: Where is the "C" in Developing E-Type Systems?
     Where is the connection between faith and writing better code?  What influence does a practicing Christian have in the development of systems?  This discussion examines the challenges of delivering software to a demanding world in the context of a Christian perspective.  In addition to providing background on the software development process, the presentation includes an overview of the questionnaire comments from professed Christians involved in software as they explained their view of the "link" between their faith and profession.


Friday, March 28, 2008, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Eric LaRock, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Oakland University.
Title: Interactive Cellular Assemblies, Neural Suppression, and the Unified Character of Consciousness
     Over the past few decades research in neuroscience has exploded in the area of visual consciousness.  Neuroscientists have begun to unravel considerably more details about some of the functions and possible causes that underlie visual consciousness.  What is fascinating about our current knowledge of the brain is that visual consciousness of an object's properties involves the activity of neurons distributed throughout the visual cortex.  Specialized subassemblies of neurons have been identified in different areas of the visual cortex that respond to specific properties of objects, such as shape, color, motion, and location (Bartels & Zeki, 2006; Zeki, 2003). From a biological point of view, the evolution of these specialized neuronal areas has enabled the brain to represent the particular properties of an object more economically.   But the advantages of functional specialization have led to apparent gaps in our attempts to provide a thoroughgoing neural story of the unity of visual consciousness: thus far, there is no known central processing mechanism, or convergence site in the brain, where perceptual information about an object's properties could coalesce to form a unitary object of consciousness (see Crick & Koch, 1990; Gray, 1999; Singer, 1996, 1999, 2007).  Because the neuronal firings that underlie an object's representational contents (e.g., shape and color) are distributed throughout the visual cortex, it is difficult to understand how a single, unified object could arise in visual consciousness.  If there were direct correlations between an object's representational contents and distributed neural firings, it would seem that visual consciousness would consist of an unconnected set of properties minus object unity.  Normal subjects, in any case, do not visually experience objects as disunities; so merely identifying the neural correlates of the property representations of an object cannot be the complete story (LaRock, 2006, 2007).  The recognition of this explanatory gap has motivated various theories of binding in the neurosciences.  For example, Singer (1996, 2007) proposes an interactive cellular assembly hypothesis, and Luck and Beach (1998) defend the neural suppression hypothesis.  In this paper I elaborate and provide a critique of Singer's interactive cellular assembly hypothesis, and subsequently examine whether Luck and Beach's neural suppression hypothesis might have the explanatory tools requisite to account for the unified character of an object's properties at the level of consciousness.  Against Singer, I argue (1) that neuronal synchrony is not sufficient for binding the representations of an object's properties into a unified object of consciousness; and (2) that binding is not necessary for consciousness.  Against Luck and Beach, I argue that although neural suppression might help to explain disambiguation at higher levels of the processing hierarchy, this does not entail an explanation of binding.  In the final section, I develop a Kantian approach to the unity of consciousness and discuss some of its metaphysical and methodological implications.


Monday, April 7, 2008, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: George Murphy, pastoral associate at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Akron, Ohio; adjunct faculty member at Trinity Lutheran Seminary.
Title: Real Faith and Fictional Worlds
     Science fiction has become increasingly respectable and influential in recent years, portraying a variety of futures.  God usually seems to be absent from those futures, together with every other aspect of Christianity.  But is that really the case?  Religious questions often surface in new and challenging guises, and are sometimes quite explicit.  This talk will reflect on religion and science in the science fiction world, with reference to a number of popular books, films and TV shows, and will suggest some ways in which science fiction can help to communicate the Christian message.


Friday, October 3, 2008, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
                                 Co-sponsored by the Calvin Philosophy Department
Speaker: Elise M. Crull, graduate student in the History and Philosophy of Science Program, University of Notre Dame.
Title: Should Christians be Structural Realists?
     There is much ado in philosophy of science these days concerning structural realism—a position about scientific theories that purports to be the "best of both worlds" by dodging major bullets on both sides of the realism debate.  In this talk, I investigate whether or not Christians have different and/or stronger reasons for adopting such a position.  I argue that despite the initial appeal of structural realism, it admits of objections that cannot be surmounted even with the aid of arguments from Christianity.  Nevertheless, I suggest that a more nuanced version of structural realism in the vein of Poincaré might yet provide a tantalizing option for a faith-informed analysis of what science claims to be and do.


Friday, October 17, 2008, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: C.J. Majeski, Calvin College philosophy major  (with Steve Wykstra, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College).
Title: Interactions between Science and Philosophy:  Newton on Space and Body
     This talk will present some results of Carey James (C.J.) Majeski's summer research project under Professor S. Wykstra, funded by a McGregor fellowship.  One aim of the project was to develop a Reader, usable in several contexts, containing readings by scientists and philosophers that will facilitate reflection on historic interactions between science and philosophy.  In this talk, C.J. will first describe some aspects of the collaborative research experience, with some reflections on how Christian faith and academic research interact.  He will then introduce and present for group discussion a key selection from an important paper by Isaac Newton ("On Gravity and the Equilibrium of Fluids"). In the selected passage, we will see a strong philosophical side of Newton's thought, in which his theological commitments seem to actively inform—in some surprising ways—the conceptual foundations of his physics, both in his treatment of the concept of space and of material body.  C.J.'s presentation of the Newton passage will function as a paradigm example of the summer research work. Professor Wykstra will join in the group discussion.


Friday, November 14, 2008, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 010.       (Note the room)
Speakers: Davis Young and Ralph Stearley, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College.
Title: "The Bible, Rocks and Time."  Is that like "rock, paper, scissors"?  An interview with Davis Young and Ralph Stearley
     The Bible, Rocks and Time was funded in part by the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship.  Davis Young, emeritus geology professor, and Ralph Stearley, geology professor, will be interviewed by Calvin professor of English and director of the CCCS Susan Felch, and will speak on a wide range of topics related to the book, including its possible impact in science classrooms and among the general public.


Friday, November 21, 2008, 1:30 p.m. in Science Building room 010.     (Note the time and room)
                                 Co-sponsored by the Calvin Biology Department
Speaker: Martin Price, Senior Agricultural Scientist, former CEO, and Founder, at the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO).
Title: Potential for Research at Christian College Science Departments Targeted to Benefit the Poor
     As a young Assistant Professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Geneva College, Dr. Price wanted to involve his students in research that would help the exceptionally poor in developing countries.  The problem was that he didn't know what the questions were that would lead to research that would benefit the poor.  After post-doctoral research in agriculture and now 27 years directing the agricultural work of ECHO, he will share some examples of such research that has been done and suggest ways that Calvin College science departments could involve their students in pro-poor research.  He will also share some thoughts for students who would like their graduate research to benefit the poor.  ECHO, the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization, is a Christian non-profit organization that helps individuals and organizations working with rural small-holder farmers and urban gardeners in Third World countries.  It is based on a subtropical farm in SW Florida that serves for both training and operation of a seed bank for underutilized tropical plants.


Friday, February 27, 2009, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
Speaker: David Myers,  Professor of Psychology, Hope College
Title: A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists: Musings on Why God is Good and Faith Isn't Evil
     Recent "new atheist" best-sellers share a common assertion: that religion—all religions—are "dangerous" (as well as false). With his new book, which this talk will summarize, Dr. Myers aims to bridge the skeptical/believer dichotomy and to suggest how faith can be reasonable, science-affirming, healthy, hopeful, and humane.


Friday, April 3, 2009, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Eric Achtyes, M.D., Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services
Title:  C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud: Two Contrasting Worldviews
     It is possible but unlikely that C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud ever met face to face.  Yet these two men have stood out as eloquent advocates for the spiritual and materialist worldviews, respectively.  Both were rigorous thinkers and academicians, as well as prolific writers.  Each has attempted to answer the most difficult religious and philosophical questions from his own unique perspective.  Each left a legacy of scholarship that informs our contemporary culture and thinking.  During the first half of the lecture, we will examine how the life experiences of these two men helped shape their different worldviews.  In the second half of the lecture, we will focus on their approach to the problem of pain and suffering using an open discussion format.  This lecture is based on a course developed and taught for over thirty years to Harvard students by Dr. Armand Nicholi, Jr, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  Useful readings prior to the lecture include: "The Future of an Illusion" by Sigmund Freud, "The Problem of Pain" by C.S. Lewis, and "The Question of God" by Armand M. Nicholi, Jr.


Friday, April 17, 2009, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Scott Hoezee (Calvin Theological Seminary) and Deb Haarsma (Calvin College Physics & Astronomy Dept.)
Title:  Science on Sunday: Integrating Science into the Life of the Congregation
     Calvin Seminary has received a grant from the Templeton Foundation to develop resources and continuation education for pastors on science issues.  The project will encourage pastors to become more scientifically literate, more appreciative of science's contribution to the life of faith, and so more able to include science and scientific knowledge in a variety of ministry practices.  Those ministry practices could include sermons, music and worship aids, curricula for children and small groups, outdoor activities and service projects, etc.  After an overview of the project, there will be plenty of time to brainstorm.  Please bring your ideas and resources—what do you wish your pastor knew about your field?  What activities and ideas would you like to see in your local congregation?


Friday, May 1, 2009, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Steve Matheson, Biology Department, Calvin College
Title: Why is there no controversy surrounding theistic embryology?  Dissecting critical responses to theistic evolution.
     Those who simultaneously express Christian belief and affirm evolutionary theory are said to espouse a position called "theistic evolution."  The view holds the peculiar distinction of being reviled by both hard-line creationists (who call it "appeasement") and prominent atheist commentators (who deride it as fallacious).  I argue that these critics typically fail to articulate objections that are specific to the view.  Most creationist critics of theistic evolution object to one or both of these characteristics of the view: 1) its reliance on naturalistic explanation, a feature common to all scientific theorizing; or 2) its embrace of "random" causal events, a feature common to myriad scientific explanations.  Most atheist critics of theistic evolution object to its openness to supernatural explanation, a feature of religious belief in general.  Such criticisms, valid or not, fail to address anything specific to theistic evolution.  In other words, attacks on theistic evolution are usually attacks on theism or attacks on evolution, but rarely represent specific criticisms of the theistic evolution position.  To better understand the controversy surrounding theistic evolution, I propose that critiques of the position be considered in light of a lesser-known position we may (with tongue in cheek) call "theistic embryology."  Theistic embryology describes the thinking of those who simultaneously express Christian belief and affirm basic theories in human developmental biology.  Although the logic is indistinguishable from that of theistic evolution, the view is uncontroversial and the term "theistic embryology" is practically non-existent.  I suggest that critiques of theistic evolution be subjected to the "theistic embryology test."  Most critiques that claim to identify weaknesses in theistic evolution make arguments that are equally damaging to "theistic embryology" and so fail the test.  Critiques that fail this whimsical test are likely to be arguments against belief, or against naturalistic explanation, and should be considered as such.


Friday, September 11, 2009, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 010.
Speaker: Karl Giberson, Eastern Nazarene College, President of Biologos Foundation
Title:  Wrestling with Darwin
     Karl Giberson was raised in a fundamentalist parsonage and entered college in 1975 intending to become a creation scientist and join the fight against evolution.  While studying science at college he became convinced that evolution was true and, with much struggle and angst, abandoned his childhood belief in creationism.  Karl's personal story mirrors that of America in the decades since Darwinism came ashore and challenged the country's traditional creation story.  This is the story of both Karl's personal struggle to make peace with evolution and that of a deeply religious country, as it engages the same struggle.


Friday, September 25, 2009, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
     and
Friday, October 2, 2009, 3:30 p.m. in North Hall room 078.
Speaker: Deborah Haarsma, Physics and Astronomy Department, Calvin College
Title:  "Test of Faith" video and discussion
     The Faraday Institute in the United Kingdom has just released a new DVD on science and faith, entitled  "Test of Faith."  The script is well-written and includes interviews with several top experts on a range of topics.  The production values are high, including some creative special effects.  It comes with a study guide for use by small groups.  Come for a showing and consider how you might use "Test of Faith" in Calvin courses or at local churches.  To allow time for discussion, half the video will be shown at each session:

     Sept 25: apologetics, cosmology, environment

       Oct 2: evolution, neuroscience, bioethics


Friday, October 16, 2009, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Steve Wykstra, Philosophy Department, Calvin College
Title: Why Newton was not an Empiricist.
     Isaac "I feign no hypotheses" Newton is often billed as an hard-nosed empiricist.  But did Newton really think  that it is only by observation and experiment that we can ascertain the truth of any propositions about physical reality (at least, any of the sort that a physicist needs to trouble herself about)?  In Friday talks in previous years, we've considered Newton's arguments in "De Grav" ("On Gravity and the Equilibrium of Fluids), focusing on Newton's analysis of the nature of matter and of action-at-a-distance forces.  In this talk, we will turn to how, in De Grav, Newton reasons about space and time.  Newton develops his ideas by attacking the arguments Descartes gives in Principles of Philosophy.  There, Descartes champions a "relational" conception of motion: as Descartes sees it, the kinematic description of the motion of an observable  body must always be relative to some other observable body (we can't observe it's motion relative to "space," after all).  Newton's response to Descarte's relational kinematics bring him to his own view that real motion is within -- and relative to -- a "container" conception of "absolute space" and "absolute time," the same view as he later champions in the General Scholium of the Principia.  By considering his reasoning closely, we hope to get some fresh insight into three things: into whether Newton was really an empiricist, into how science works, and into, perhaps (dare we hope?), the nature of space and time themselves.


Friday, November 6, 2009, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Bill Struthers, Psychology Department, Wheaton College
Title: The Seven Temptations of Neuroethics
     Whether defined as the neural basis of morality and ethics or as the subfield of biomedical ethics that deals with advances in the neurosciences, there is considerable concern among Evangelical Christians about Neuroethics.  There are a number of potential areas in Neuroethics that will prove to be points of contention and they can be understood as the Seven Temptations. Each will be addressed with specific attention given to Evangelical responses to how the scientific, medical and public policy communities view these issues.  An overview of the importance of addressing these temptations within the social, political, and theological arenas will be presented.


Friday, March 12, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Brian Madison, Religion Department, Calvin College
Title: What scientists should know about doctrine of creation
     The contemporary dialogue between theology and the natural sciences tends to proceed uni-directionally: that is to say theologians look to the sciences as providing descriptions of reality which either serve as challenges to traditional theological formulations or as sources for creative theological exploration.   This seminar seeks to press the dialogue in the reverse direction by exploring the rich resources of Christian theology regarding the nature of reality, the nature of causation, and the significance of understanding the world as existing in relation to God through the divine activity of creation.  Scientists may find such resources helpful and challenging regarding their scientific exploration of a world Christian theology claims is, and describes as, created.   Metaphysical, Christological and pneumatological aspects of a doctrine of creation will be addressed in relation to contemporary scientific endeavors.


Friday, April 9, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Jim Bradley, emeritus Mathematics and Statistics Department, Calvin College
Title: A Discussion of the Divine Action Project
     During the 1990's, a series of five conferences on faith and science were co-sponsored by the Vatican Observatory and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley.  They took God's action in the physical universe as their unifying theme; hence the undertaking came to be known as the Divine Action Project.  Participants were scientists and theologians from Protestant and Roman Catholic backgrounds, most of whom held a more or less orthodox view of Christian belief.  Each conference produced a significant collection of scholarly papers covering the topics quantum cosmology and the laws of nature, chaos and complexity, evolutionary and molecular biology, neuroscience and the person, and quantum mechanics.  This talk will provide a brief sketch of the project illustrated with examples from the chaos and complexity study.  Its primary purpose is to initiate a conversation on the subject of God's action in the physical universe.


Friday, April 16, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Loren Haarsma, Physics and Astronomy Department, Calvin College
Title: Philosophical materialism and moral nihilism
     The natural sciences are often used to support worldviews of philosophical materialism.  Some Christians respond by claiming that philosophical materialism logically implies moral nihilism.  Often these claims are coupled to arguments that the theory of evolution promotes selfishness and eugenics as "natural goods."  This seminar will briefly discuss the oversimplifications of biological evolution behind these claims and ways to disentangle the science of evolution from philosophical materialism, then move on to discuss the broader claim that philosophical materialism implies moral nihilism.  Some moral theorists look for a non-theistic basis for objective moral authority in self-evident principles, reason, community, nature, or some combination of those.  We'll consider distinctions between reductionist materialisms and emergentist materialisms, and end with a discussion about whether some versions of the argument that philosophical materialism imply moral nihilism rely on such a low view of creation and common grace as to make them problematic for Calvinists.  If so, does a high view of creation and common grace suggest a better response to philosophical naturalism?


Friday, April 23, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 010  (note the room number).
Speaker: James Rusthoven, Professor, Department of Oncology, McMaster University
Title: In Pursuit of the Ethical Stem Cell: Challenges in the Quest for New Biological Therapies
     In human stem cell research, the recent development of cellular constructs with embryonic stem cell features has raised hopes that human embryos will no longer be disrupted or destroyed in the effort to develop new biological therapies for human diseases.  However, some suggest that such new biotechnologies have not solved older ethical problems, just added new ones.  In this presentation, the current state of these new biological technologies will be presented and their potential risks and benefits for developing new therapies will be compared.  Both persistent and new ethical problems will be articulated and discussed.  Concerns will be raised regarding the safety of such cellular therapies as society approaches an era of clinical testing of embryonic stem cell-derived cellular therapies.


Friday, April 30, 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 010  (note the room number).

Speaker: Stephen Matheson, Biology Department, Calvin College
Title: Convergence and chance in the construction of the tree of life
     To what extent has "chance" influenced the outcomes of biological evolution? To some, the unfolding of the tree of life was so strongly contingent on early and seemingly random events that its current forms (which include H. sapiens) could just as likely have been utterly different. To others, the unfolding of the tree of life is characterized by recurrent themes that are so pervasive that its current forms were well-nigh inevitable. We will examine the ideas of the two prominent scientists who have advocated these two divergent views of the nature of evolution. The late Stephen Jay Gould made famous the "rewind the tape" metaphor: according to Gould, if we repeatedly replayed the history of life on earth, it would turn out differently – very differently – each time. Simon Conway Morris has famously emphasized evolutionary convergence, wherein similar designs arise independently during evolution, suggesting a predictable pattern. Two brilliant and accomplished paleontologists and evolutionary biologists, examining the same data, reached apparently opposite conclusions. We will discuss the fossils that formed the focus of Gould's case, look at some examples of convergent evolution that are the basis of Conway Morris's position, and consider the relevance of both sets of ideas in Christian conceptions of an unfolding creation.


Friday, October 8, 2010; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Loren Haarsma, Physics and Astronomy Department, Calvin College
Title: Scientific and Theological Issues on Human Origins
     This is the first of what we hope will be a series of seminars this year by various speakers on the topic of human origins.  We will first summarize discoveries made in the last few decades in genetics and paleontology, and discuss what we can learn from these discoveries about how God created humans.  Then we'll survey main points of Christian tradition on a number of important theological topics: humans as God's image-bearers, the human soul, original sin, and natural evil.  We'll describe several proposed scenarios for human origins which seek to bring together what we learn both from scripture and from nature, and we'll analyze some of the pros and cons of those scenarios.  The goal of this seminar is to map out the important issues, the areas of agreement, and the range of disagreements.  Audience questions and suggestions will influence which particular issues we explore in greater depth in later seminars.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010; 7:00 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
Speaker: Steve Matheson, Biology Department, Calvin College
Title: Evolution and Explanation
     Is evolution true? Most scientists consider this question settled. In this lecture we'll address a somewhat different question, and a better one: How does evolution make sense of the living world? In other words, how does evolution explain the ways in which living things came to be the way they are? We will look at the many kinds of evidence and data that are explained by common ancestry so that we can understand why evolutionary theory has been so successful. We will look at points of concern for Christians and briefly discuss the ways in which Christians can respond to those worries. And there will be plenty of time for questions and answers. Come learn why evolutionary theory is such an excellent explanation.


Friday, October 29, 2010; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.

Speaker: Tom Ackerman, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, and Director of the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO).
Title: The Science (and Art) of Global Climate Modeling
     In four decades, global climate models have grown from simple energy balance models of Earth to among the most complex physical models ever built. These models seek to encapsulate in a computational framework our current understanding of how the Earth climate system works, including fundamental relationships between atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere (ice), and land surfaces. Current models contain roughly 1 million lines of computer code and are run on platforms ranging from desktop computers to the largest computers in the world. Climate models are used to assess the impact of human activity on future climate warming and results are being used to advocate for changes in energy policy and infrastructure that have extensive social and economic consequences. How well do understand climate? How well do climate models capture our understanding? What are the uncertainties associated with climate models? What is the prospect for narrowing uncertainties in the near future? How do these uncertainties impact projected climate warming over this century? Should public policy be based on results from science models that have inherent uncertainty? This talk will explore the broad landscape of these questions from the perspective of a climate scientist.


Friday, November 5, 2010; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
Speaker: Daniel Harlow, Religion Department, Calvin College
Title: Reading Genesis 2-3 in an Age of Evolutionary Science
     This presentation will summarize the main points of an article recently published in the journal Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (vol. 62, no. 3 [September 2010]: 179–95) and then lead a discussion of it and of issues it raises. The article is framed by recent research in molecular biology, primatology, sociobiology, and phylogenetics––research which indicates that our species, Homo sapiens, did not descend from a single pair of individuals, and that early Homo sapiens did not start in paradisal physical or moral conditions. The body of the article is a study of Genesis 2–3 in its literary and cultural context, examining Adam and Eve as strictly literary figures, with attention both to the biblical text and ancient Near Eastern parallels. Along the way, it explains why most biblical scholars do not find the doctrines of the Fall and original sin in Genesis 2–3 itself but only in later Christian readings of these chapters. The article also examines briefly Paul's appeal to Adam as a type of Christ. It concludes that the doctrines of the Fall and original sin may be reaffirmed with Adam and Eve as literary rather than historical figures, but invite reformulation given the evidence for an evolving creation.


Friday, December 3, 2010; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
Speaker: Maarten J. Verkerk, Professor of Philosophy and Technology, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven and Maastricht Universiteit, The Netherlands
Title: Ecclesiastes for Managers in Times of Crisis
     The presentation will be based on a book by Prof. Verkerk published this past September in the Netherlands related to management problems in different organizations and recommended solutions based on Christian philosophy and old biblical wisdom. Verkerk tries to persuade the readers to take a different look at their managerial attitude of control and command. Questions related to meaning and spirituality are also addressed.


Wednesday, February 4, 2011; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Matt Walhout, Physics Department and Dean for Research and Scholarship, Calvin College.
Title: What Scientists Say and Why They Say It: The Linguistic Pragmatism of Quantum Physics
     Many pronouns fail to work in the language of quantum physics.  As a result, quantum physicists are unable keep track of individual objects, and they resort to speaking mainly about aggregations and statistical averages.  This lecture relies on three metaphorical illustrations to show how problems of language and logic show up in experimental contexts.  The examples are nested within a broader consideration of whether linguistic pragmatism (particularly the kind developed by philosopher Wilfrid Sellars) provides a unified understanding of what science IS and what science IS FOR.  Such a conception might help us see how scientific reasoning can be linked to our material, social, and even theological inferences.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011; 7:00 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
Speaker: Ralph Stearley, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College.
Title: Those Scary Fossils:  History of Paleoanthropological Discoveries
     Biologists and anatomists have been intrigued by natural comparisons between apes and humans since the 1600's.  In the middle 1700's, Carolus Linnaeus included humans, apes and monkeys in his mammalian order, Primates.  These biological investigations set the stage for the fossil discoveries to come.  Starting in the middle 1800's, strange and scary remains of human-like creatures began to be discovered, first in Europe, then Asia, then Africa.  The oldest of these fossil hominids now date to 6 million years before the present; all of the earliest forms are African.  Some remains are associated with tools of bone or stone or with body ornamentation.   Many skeletal elements demonstrate malnutrition, bone breakage, or other signs of a hard life.  The earliest of these fossil hominids have cranial capacities slightly larger than those of present-day great apes.  Clear trends can be seen over time in stature & locomotion, dentition, and cranial capacity during the past 4 million years, with conditions resembling more and more those of modern humans through time.  This amplifying record has seemed ominous to some—are there skeletons in our human family closet?   Or, are these individuals no more embarrassing than the other horse thieves in all our lineages?  This talk will narrate the history of these discoveries and hopefully explain something of their significance.  Lots of photos, including many scary ones.


Thursday, February 10, 2011; 8:00 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Kristin Shrader-Frechette, O'Neill Family Professor, Departments of Philosophy and Biological Science, University of Notre Dame
Title: The Best Science Money Can Buy:  How fossil-fuel and nuclear interests manipulate climate-relevant information
     Since at least 1995, peer-reviewed scientific journals have clearly established scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is occurring.  Many lay people have been misled, however, by fossil-fuel special interests who fund climate deniers. The same manipulation of science occurs among those who argue that nuclear fission can address climate change. Carefully dissecting the relevant science, this talk shows (1) that scientific consensus has accepted anthropogenic climate change since at least 1995, (2) that nuclear fission is not a low-carbon-electricity source, (3) that it is not safe, as revealed by Price-Anderson, and (4) that the nuclear industry "trims the data" on atomic-energy costs. Regarding costs, the talk shows that, if one corrects only 5 counterfactual assumptions, fission costs(excluding subsidies) can be shown to be 6 times higher than industry alleges.  That is why the market will not provide nuclear loans, and why the industry requires taxpayers to provide subsidies.  The talk concludes by showing that good science, good economics, and good ethics all point in the same direction. Energy efficiency, conservation, wind, and solar photo-voltaic are able to address climate change.


Friday, February 11, 2011; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
Speaker: David N. Livingstone, Professor of Geography & Intellectual History, Queen's University Belfast.
Title: Adam's Bloodline: Genesis, Race and Human Origins
     The idea that the human race can be traced back to a single ancestor has been both deep and lasting. In our own day it surfaces in very different arenas, both religious and secular. Contemporary geneticists and palaeo-anthropologists, for example, using DNA research, have variously christened humanity's common ancestor Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosome Adam.  Representing a very different politics, religiously-motivated racial supremacists in the United States have been no less busy working out an Adamic chronology for particular racial groups with particularly pernicious propaganda.  In this lecture I explore something of these recent obsessions before turning to an historical analysis of the role of the biblical Adam in theories about human origins over the past five centuries. In particular I focus on a wide range of thinkers who argued for the existence of human beings before the Adam of the Genesis narrative. During the seventeenth century, the idea was largely abominated as heretical, but in years to come attracted increasing support as it enabled a range of exegetical and empirical problems to be resolved. It presented solutions to the question of the settlement of the New World, eased problems posed by the so-called pagan chronologies, and offered a biological solution to issues about acclimatization, hybridity, and racial divergence.  Its use as a political resource was no less conspicuous as it was variously mobilised for both egalitarian and racist purposes.  For these and other reasons, the idea of pre-adamic humanity attracted a growing range of committed defenders – often those with a conservative Christian heritage.  In the aftermath of the Darwinian revolution, the idea was often adopted by evangelical scientists and theologians who found in the idea of  pre-Adamic hominids, nearly but not quite human, a means of making peace with evolutionary anthropology.  Over its remarkable history since the mid-seventeenth century, the idea of non-Adamic humanity has run the gamut from humanitarianism to racism, from heresy to orthodoxy.  The passion to track Adam's bloodline, one way or another, continues to fascinate the human race. If Paul Ricoeur is correct to say that Adam's fall from grace is "the anthropological myth par excellence", the mission to track Adam's bloodline must surely rank as the archetypal quest of Western culture.


Thursday, February 17, 2011; 3:30 p.m. in CFAC-107 (Recital Hall).
Speaker: James K.A. Smith, Philosophy Department, Calvin College.
Title: Evolution and the Fall: Clarifying the Issues, Imagining the Possibilities
     This presentation aims to do three things.  The first task is somewhat polemical, but the second and third goals are meant to be constructive (and maybe even irenic!). (1) What's not at issue: I will suggest a clarification of what's at stake in the current discussion by noting what this debate is not about.  It is not about evolution vs. creationism.  There isn't a simple dichotomy of pro-science versus anti-science views.  As we jointly examine and critique the various proposed scenarios for human origins, those who resist the more "symbolic" interpretations of the Fall do take the scientific data seriously.  This may be stating the obvious, but some articulations of the issues seem to require that these clarifications be made. (2) Going "meta": Drawing on Alasdair MacIntyre's account of tradition, I want to sketch an understanding of confessional theological reflection which emphasizes that wrestling with what is essential to a tradition is a defining feature of a tradition.  In other words, I want to paint a picture of "tradition" and "orthodoxy" which makes room for genuine development and reform within a tradition.  So defending "orthodoxy" cannot and should not be equated with mere repristination.  However, it does entail that theological development and reform still discerns parameters and boundaries for what constitutes a faithful extension of the tradition.   (3) Imagining the Fall: constructively, I want to loosen up our theological imagination by proposing a model that takes seriously evolutionary and genetic evidence for common ancestry, predation, etc. while also retaining a doctrine of a "historical" Fall.  My goal in this section is to point out that proposals that take seriously evolutionary and genetic evidence need not entail rejecting a historical understanding of the Fall, though this will also require some reconfiguration of how the doctrines of the Fall and original sin are articulated.  My only goal in this respect is to suggest that, with some faithful theological imagination, we could imagine some models that are not yet on the table.


Friday, February 18, 2011; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
Speaker: Paul Moes, Psychology Department, Calvin College.
Title: What can Evolutionary Psychology Tell Us about Sin?
     Evolutionary Psychology (EP) has had a significant impact on psychological theories and has a good deal to say about human nature and the reasons for our actions – both good and bad.  But can EP shed light on biblical concepts of sin or righteousness?   This presentation will review the basic ideas of EP, its implications for psychology and how it may – or may not – help us understand our basic sinful nature.  The basic thesis for the presentation is that EP, while providing some valuable insights, fails to capture the full extent of our human nature, including our sinful tendencies.


Wednesday, February 25, 2011; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Laura DeHaan and Julie Yonker, Psychology Department, Calvin College.
Title: Does Religion Matter for Adolescents and Emerging Adults?
     Although religious belief is common among most American adolescents and emerging adults (individuals 18 to 25), studies examining effects of religious beliefs on this population are limited. We analyzed all identified empirical studies from 1990 to 2010 that focused on adolescents and emerging adults, in which religion, spirituality and/or faith (R/S) was an identified variable. Studies were examined in terms of how R/S was conceptualized and operationally definition. Our next step was to conduct a meta-analysis to examine the association between R/S and outcome measures of risk taking behavior, depression, well-being, self-esteem, and personality.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011; 3:30 p.m. in CFAC-107 (Recital Hall).
Speaker: Kelly Clark, Philosophy Department, Calvin College.
Title: God, Chance, and Purpose
     Before God and creation via evolution get too cozy, we need to remember that evolution is a chancy process. While natural selection itself is not a method of chance, what it selects from is a matter of chance—random mutations. Random mutations supply the fuel that operates the evolutionary machinery. Without mutations, individuals within a species would have exactly the same characteristics; none would be any better than another in terms of avoiding predators or coaxing mates. It’s only when mutations occur—making some individuals slightly faster or able to smell better or more attractive—that natural selection kicks in, lending its endorsement to the favorable trait. Without mutations, natural selection is empty. But, and here’s the God and creation problem, mutations are random. How can a random process be compatible with God’s intentions to create plants and animals, and then humans (in His image)? If the process was random, how could God have known what he was going to get? How could God have guided a process that is fueled by random events? I'll consider five models for how God might use random processes to accomplish God's purposes.


Thursday, March 3, 2011; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
Speaker: Stephen M. Gardiner, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Program on Values in Society, University of Washington.
Title: Thinking About and Responding to Climate Change
     Abstract:  Ethical action on climate change is made more difficult by global, intergenerational and   theoretical challenges, and puts us at risk of moral corruption.  Jane Austen can help us to understand the threat of this "perfect moral storm".  (Prof. Gardiner is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Program on Values in Society at the University of Washington in Seattle. He specializes in ethics, political philosophy and environmental ethics.  Prof. Gardiner received his PhD. in Philosophy from Cornell University in 1999 for a dissertation on Aristotelian virtue ethics. He also has an M.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a B.A. from Oxford University in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.  Prof. Gardiner is the editor of Virtue Ethics, Old and New (Cornell,2005), and the coordinating co-editor (with Dale Jamieson, Simon Caney and Henry Shue) of Climate Ethics (Oxford, forthcoming). His manuscript A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics and the Global Environmental Tragedy is also currently under contract at Oxford.)


Friday, March 4, 2011; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
Speaker: Bert deVries, History Department, Calvin College.
Title: A Historian's Approach to Ancient Stories of Human Origin and Cosmic Structure
     In antiquity the intent of stories of human origin was not objective explanation of a process over time, but narrative portrayal of archetypical events that help the audience make sense out of their own existential human predicament. The truth of such narratives lay not in their pinpoint accuracy in the realms of biology or geology, but in their liturgical power enabling an audience to come face to face with the life forces threatening to overwhelm them. The presenter will examine ancient stories of origin and order as historical documents, both as sources for ancient socio-religious history and for their role in ancient history. First, various types of stories from ancient cultures, such as the Vedic Myth of Perusha, The Babylonian Descent of Ishtar into the Underworld, and The Canaanite Conflict between Baal and Yam, will be used to demonstrate the role of literary narrative in the representation of meaning for humans face-to-face with cosmic forces. Second, while the Genesis creation stories served a similar socio-religious purpose, they were adapted for that late in ancient history, at a point in the mid-first millennium BC when there was a broad cultural shift away from cosmo-theism to transcendental theism, not only in exilic/post-exilic proto-Judaism, but also among neighboring societies (in India, Persia and Greece, for example).  The purpose of this presentation is to bring out the meaning of human-origin texts in their original historic context in order to make clear these do not lend themselves to the commonly held "concordist" presupposition that the ancient creation narratives contain scientifically verifiable information.


Friday, March 11, 2011; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
Speaker: Frans vanLiere, History Department, Calvin College.
Title: "Tell me: How long did Adam dwell in Paradise?"  Traditions of reading sacred texts in the light of modern biblical criticism.
     This presentation will be a follow-up to Bert deVries's presentation last week. It will outline how Genesis 1-3 was interpreted after it became to be regarded as sacred history. Ultimately, the problem with the current debate over human origins has less to do with the problem of human origins than with the question: How do we read these ancient texts? For centuries, the meaning of Genesis 1-3 was determined not so much by what these texts actually said, as by what they were supposed to say; they were thought to contain some hidden truth that was especially relevant for the religious community that held them as sacred, but this truth could only be uncovered through mystical and spiritual reading. For centuries this is just how these texts were read: against a religious framework that assigned a deeper, mystical or theological meaning to these texts. These are the biblical hermeneutics underlying Paul's letter to the Corinthians, as well as the Reformed Confessions. However, modern biblical criticism has challenged this hermeneutical model. While a modern critical reading may solve many of the apparent contradictions between these sacred texts and science, it does raise the question: Can we still regard these texts as authoritative and sacred, if we read them in this way? Or do they become "just" stories, no longer the Word of God?


Thursday, March 17, 2011; 3:30 p.m. in North Hall room 161.
Speaker: Ralph Stearley, Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, Calvin College.
Title: A discussion on the article, " Assessing Evidences for the Evolution of a Human Cognitive Platform for 'Soulish Behaviors'"
     During the past one hundred fifty years, a great number of fossil hominid specimens have been unearthed, providing an outline of hominid history extending back five million years. Associated with these hominid fossils are artifacts. Christians and others who have attempted to assess the humanity of these long-dead individuals have focused on evidences of cognition such as cave art, evidences of care given to injured or ill individuals, or burial. However, many more types of evidences as to cognitive abilities in these creatures are available.  Warren Brown has proposed that a cluster of interlinked cognitive capacities were elaborated over the past few million years of hominid history during an "evolutionary trajectory" which, in turn, undergird human "soulish behaviors." These include language, a theory of mind, episodic memory, top-down agency, future orientation, and emotional modulation. This article is an attempt to put traction on Brown's proposal, through detailed examination of the paleoanthropological record. The ability to teach, and thus symbolically and rapidly transmit culture, is suggested as an additional capacity which is part of this cognitive platform. Primary data (anatomy, artifacts) and reliable inferences (based on comparative studies) support a notion of a stage-wise erection of a cognitive platform for soulish behaviors. A few significant, less-understood gaps remain in the cognitive trajectory.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011; 7:30 p.m. in Commons Annex Lecture Hall.
Speaker: Laura Smit, Religion Department, Calvin College.
Title: What Augustine Still Has to Teach Us about Human Origins and God's Creating Work
     In conversations about origins, Augustine is sometimes painted as a fundamentalist in the way he read Scripture (he wasn’t), as someone who corrupted the Hebrew worldview of the Bible with Hellenism (he didn’t), and as the source of a distorted understanding of sin and salvation that needs to be overcome (it needn’t).  Given how central Augustine has been to the development of Christian thought in the west, especially (though by no means exclusively) to the development of the Reformed tradition, we should dig a little deeper and get a fuller understanding of what he actually says about human origins, about human freedom and responsibility, about the nature of sin, about the goodness of creation and the goodness of God.


Friday, April 8, 2011; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building room 110.
Speaker: Robert Bishop, McIntyre Professor of Philosophy and History of Science, Wheaton College.
Title: The Doctrine of Creation: Mediated Action and Science
     There is a very prevalent line of thinking found in both Christian and non-Christian circles that scientific explanations of natural events must be interpreted as competing with or replacing biblical explanations for such events. Contrary to popular Western culture mythology, this line of thinking is thoroughly modern, arising in the 18th century and refined in the 19th. The historical development of the idea of scientific and biblical explanations as competing takes place at the same time as the biblical doctrine of creation is being gutted. In this talk I will primarily focus on a particular feature of the doctrine of creation in need of recovery for thinking about science: that God’s action in creation is always mediated. I will draw on the idea of mediated action to illustrate how the doctrine of creation provides resources for dispensing with the notion that scientific and biblical explanations are competing, and instead allows us to interpret scientific explanations as consistent with Christianity.


Friday, April 29, 2011; 3:30 p.m. in Science Building basement room 010.
Speaker: John Cooper, Professor of Philosophical Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary.
Title: The CRC and Human Origins Since Synod 2010
     This presentation explains the position of the CRC on human origins as modified by the Synod of 2010. (I was an advisor to Synod and advocated for its decision.) Synod 2010 removed the declaration of Synod 1991 that "the uniqueness of humans as image bearers of God rules out the espousal of all theorizing that posits the reality of evolutionary forebears of the human race." But it reaffirmed the other five declarations of 1991, including permissible approaches to Genesis and doctrinal conclusions that are required. Consequently, the CRC position is now open to espousal of evolutionary theories of human ancestors that are consistent with these hermeneutical and doctrinal positions. The presentation outlines some limits and possibilities of the CRC position in relation to current scientific, philosophical, theological, and exegetical views. There will be time for discussion.


Last updated March 18, 2011