Source: World Network of Religious Futurists

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MetaNexus to Host Science & Religion Conference
By Julia Loving, May 8, 2006

PHILADELPHIA--A new curriculum proposal for more effective science education and current perspectives on the evolution/intelligent design controversy highlight the Metanexus Institute's annual international conference on science and religion, June 3-7 on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

The conference, Continuity + Change: Perspectives on Science and Religion, presents leading international scholars whose work delves into important new and emerging ideas at the intersection of science and religion scholarship and research. Complete details are posted at Registration is available for a single session, an entire day, or the full conference.

The tension between continuity and change is not simply philosophical conundrum; it is also at the root of the most pressing questions of our time. We wrestle with the tensions of tradition vs. innovation in the law, religious thought, and political life. The pace of change in scientific discovery, technological advancement, environmental transformation, and globalized culture is accelerating at such a dizzying rate that our abilities to cope are tested to the limits. The key to surviving and flourishing as human beings depends on how we find continuity and make the right choices in the midst of such rapid change.

Featured public sessions, co-sponsored by the Academy of Natural Sciences (Philadelphia), include:

Beyond Intelligent Design, Science Debates, and Culture Wars: A Teach-In on Evolution, Sunday, June 4. This day-long series of talks will investigate the question of the origins and evolution of life, taking into account scientific, theological, philosophical, historical, and political considerations, many of which impact education and public policy. Distinguished presenters and respondents for these sessions include Ian Barbour (Carleton College), John Haught (Georgetown University, the only theologian to testify in the Dover trial), George Ellis (University of Cape Town), and Nancey Murphy (Fuller Theological Seminary.

Teaching the History of Nature: Towards an Integrated Science Curriculum is the topic for discussion on Monday evening, June 5. As the world becomes ever more scientific and technological, Americans demonstrate not only declining scientific knowledge, but also the inability to effectively address philosophical, religious, and moral issues. To participate in a meaningful way in our democratic society, to make informed policy decisions that will affect not only our lives but also the world’s future generations, we must transform our ways of educating and of learning. Our curriculum reform discussion will propose an integrated science curriculum organized around teaching of the history of nature as an effective framework that will enable students to better understand science, as well as important philosophical, religious, moral, and practical issues at the interface of science and society. Featured speakers are Ursula Goodenough (Washington University of St. Louis), George Ellis (University of Cape Town), and Dennis Cheek (Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation).

Spiritual Capital: Global Perspectives on Economics and Religion, Saturday evening, June 3. This opening plenary session will explore the influences that religion and spirituality have on economic and societal realities—locally and globally. While capitalism certainly has spread far beyond the Protestant countries in the last century, the hypothesis that capitalism’s advance—along with other aspects of the modern world—would necessarily lead to religion's demise is clearly false. This interdisciplinary forum will explore the economic and societal consequences of religion and spirituality as part of the emerging social science of “spiritual capital.” Featured speakers include Theodore Malloch (the Roosevelt Group), Timur Kuran, (University of Southern California), and Robert Putnam (Harvard University; the author of Bowling Alone).

“We live at an extraordinary moment in the natural history of our planet and the cultural evolution of our species,” said William Grassie, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Metanexus Institute. “The domains of science and the domains of religion, however understood, stand at the center of our hopes for a healthier and safer future. This is a moment for integrating the best of religion and the best of science in service of humanity and the world. This conference is an important opportunity to pursue this multifaceted, multidisciplinary, and multifaith challenge.”

Other conference sessions include:

Indic Religions in an Age of Science
Positive Psychology and Character Strengths
The Emergent Mind
Worldviews in Mathematics, Physics & Cosmology
Pentecostalism and Science

Metanexus Institute is an international organization based in Philadelphia that advances research, education, and outreach on the constructive engagement of science and religion through a variety of projects and opportunities for dialogue. Metanexus supports nearly 300 projects in 37 countries. The annual conference is, in part, a gathering of representatives of Metanexus’ Local Societies Initiative (LSI) members, who have established science-and-religion dialogues in their communities, networked with the global programs.
© 1998-2008 by World Network of Religious Futurists.

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