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News & Stories: 2007-08

Seminar brings Chinese scholars to campus
May 23, 2008

Calvin College will host a four-week seminar from June 23 to July 18 on science, philosophy and belief.

The seminar is specifically designed for faculty and graduate students in related disciplines from universities in mainland China, and thus will bring to Grand Rapids a group of 22 Chinese graduate students and professors. The program will cover all of their travel and seminar expenses thanks to a $2 million grant received by Calvin in January 2007 from the John Templeton Foundation.

The upcoming seminar will be led by Calvin College's Del Ratzsch and Franklin and Marshall College's Michael Murray. In addition a quartet of luminaries from the worlds of science and religion will serve as guest instructors and will deliver lectures free and open to the public (see below for details).

Calvin's Joel Carpenter is director of the college's Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity and he said the seminar will examine a universal topic.

"Chinese intellectuals are eager to engage their western counterparts, and fewer topics are hotter than the relationship between scientific and religious ways of knowing," he said. "For 50 years, Chinese academics have been taught that science is the true path to knowledge and religion is superstition. Today they are deeply skeptical of that message, and they are eager to learn more about how front-line scholars in the West deal with this topic. We want to give them the best minds we can offer, people who have thought long and deeply about science and religion."

Carpenter said the seminar will focus attention on historical and contemporary philosophical conceptions of science, the role of philosophy and theology in the rise of modern science, and historical and contemporary approaches to the relationship between science and religion.

Kelly Clark, a Calvin philosophy professor who is directing the overall science and belief project funded by Templeton, said the goal of the project is "to produce a sophisticated ongoing conversation about philosophy, science and belief in China that will equip scholars, strengthen teaching at Chinese universities, and sustain and deepen this line of inquiry in China."

As part of the project, Calvin is planning a major academic conference at Peking University in the summer of 2009.

~by Phil de Haan, communications & marketing

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Public Lectures

The following public lectures will be available during the four-week seminar:

Sir John Polkinghorne
Cambridge University
7:30 p.m. Thursday June 26
"Can a Scientist Believe in a
Destiny Beyond Death?”
Calvin Theological
Seminary Chapel

Dr. Alvin Plantinga
University of Notre Dame
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 2
"Science and Religion:
Why Does the Debate Continue?”
Calvin Theological
Seminary Chapel

Dr. Owen Gingerich
Harvard University
7:30 p.m Wednesday July 9
"The Divine Handiwork:
Evolution and the Wonder of Life”
Gezon Auditorium

Dr. Richard Swinburne
Oxford University
7:30 p.m. Wednesday July 16
"God and Morality”
Gezon Auditorium