Course 116: Einstein Was Wrong:
How Science and Religion Seek Meaning in the Spiritual and Material Worlds
Leaders: David Clark and Andrew France Jr.
Description: An interactive discussion on how science studies the material world and religion treats the spiritual world. The goal is to raise questions as we objectively examine positive and negative interactions between science and religion, and see if there are points of common interest or concern between these disciplines. Definitive answers are unlikely, but good questions are always useful for the advancement of both science and theology. Scientists depend on empirical knowledge obtained from nature, theologians rely on revealed knowledge from God. Religious or spiritual beliefs range from theism to atheism; scientific "realists" believe in an external physical reality while "anti-realists" see reality as a mental construct only. The ideological tension between science and religion has recently increased in some ways and decreased in others. Both fields have always influenced each other in political or philosophical ways which may or may not reflect serious conflict between the laws of nature and the laws of God. Can science and religion coexist peacefully? We will pursue dialogue on the following topics: (1) Creation: Genesis and the big bang. Views of time and space. Darwinian evolution vs. "creationism". (2) How sure are we? Benefits and detriments of uncertainty and doubt. How does religion deal with doubt and certainty? The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the limits of science. (3) Classical physics and religion: Galileo and the Church, Newton's laws and a "Christian approach"(?) to physics. (4) Einstein's relativity theory: the warping of space and time, a shock for both science and theology. Does the term "Jewish science" have any meaning? (5) Quantum physics: a disturbing challenge to rational thinking? Einstein's comment that "God does not play dice with the universe!". The practical applications of quantum mechanics despite its "weirdness". Who ordered the newly discovered Higgs boson? It raises more questions than it answers! (Will it inspire a return to the discredited "god of the gaps" idea?)
Biographies: David B. Clark: MS Chemistry, Bucknell University, BA Lycoming College, 38 years teaching college level science courses, retired in 2005 from Pennsylvania College of Technology (Penn State). Rev. Dr. Canon Andrew M. France Jr.: ordained Episcopal priest 1966, retired 2007, D. Min., Master of Divinity, BA, Clinical Counselor, Psychiatric Chaplain, U.S. Air Force veteran.
Materials for Course: Required: Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction, by Thomas Dixon, Oxford University Press (2008), ISBN 978-0-19-929551-7. Available in paperback or electronic editions from online sources and others for less than $15. Other readings will be provided for the class as handouts.
Number of Participants: Minimum: 5; Maximum: 15
Location: Red Cross - Edna Sheary Room
Meeting Time: Wednesdays, February 27- April 3, 1 - 2:30 p.m.