Something to ponder: "Do we truly have a free-will to make decisions that change the course of our lives? A surprising number of theologians and scientists say, NO! Some theologians say Providence determines our actions, while some scientists says we are biologically determined to act in certain ways. Does that surprise you? What do you think? And what do you think about the fact that so many conservative theologians and free-thinking scientists (polar opposites on other issues) actually reach the same conclusion (even though they use different arguments to reach that same conclusion)? Finally, what exactly is free-will and why is it such a hotly contested concept in both behavioral science and theology?” That's the cluster of questions this March's Science & Theology Dialogues will take up on Sunday, March 9th.
While we usually pick a topic from the Templeton Foundation (click here), this time we are going to look at a paper from the Faraday Institute in England which works on some of the same issues. They have published an interesting exploration of the March topic on their website, so participants can just download it and avoid ordering and reading a whole book (click here for the article). Also, check out these other essays (click here and click here). For more theological context to this perennial issue, you can also read what Thomas Aquinas wrote about it in his Summa Theologica (click here). We will use as a reference the following sections: The Providence of God (22), Of Predestination (23) and Of Free-Will (83). Finally, if you know of other articles or run across a blog posting that may be interesting post in the comments.
As always, our goal is not to simply to critique the thoughts and ideas of others and the articles but to see what relevance these ideas have on our present day interpretation and practice of our personal and community expressions of Christianity.
Hope you can join us!
Larry (Computer science), Mike (Engineering), and Vicki (Geology)
Other important information:
We are switching to essay discussions: With this conversation, we are switching gears a little bit. Our last few discussions required that we purchase and read a book. Many indicated to me that they felt like they could not participate since they did not have the time to purchase and or read the book. Because these Templeton & Faraday essays are online they can be downloaded and read on your mobile devices.
Your input is needed and valued: The Templeton and Faraday essays promise to be a great resource for our conversations. If you know of any other sites that have interesting topics that would make a great source for our conversations, please share with the group by placing the links in the comment sections. Also if you are not able to attend this conversation gathering, please vote for your topic choice for our next gathering.
More about the Purpose of the "Science & Theology Dialogues:" We are trying to create a safe space for people to pose basic questions about how their faith background and science training & interests interrelate. Many people either have given up on this quest (they never could fit the pieces together), or they try to make hard-and-fast rules where there's a lot of ambiguity and mystery. We, on the other hand, have not given up on the quest to integrate faith and science. But, to be clear, our group never seeks to "prove" God or any claim, but to "explore" and "evaluate" new ideas and theological models over a beer or meal. We don't really have debates as much as conversations about new ideas from a range of disciplines (science, social science, theology, literature) that help us make sense of the world and our place in it.
More about our Facilitators of our "Science & Theology Dialogues": Going forward we are hoping Larry Branch and others interested in faith and science issues can host future "Science & Theology Dialogues" through DC Theology Pub & An Emerging Christianity Conversation in DC. Larry’s interest in science & theology comes from his life experiences in the areas of computer science, social justice, and local church involvement. Larry is a software developer working on a number of projects as a contractor at the US Department of Labor. He lives in Loudoun County where he has chaired the county Board of Social Services. While serving on this influential board, he developed a special passion for providing affordable housing to all county residents. He also has attended a non-denominational church in the county since 1985, and he has served as an elder for several of those years. Larry describes himself as a “sojourner on a spiritual quest like many others in DC; but an unusual person in the District in that I do not have a political affiliation; rather, I enjoy meeting a variety of people. Even though I am committed to the Christian discipline and worldview, I especially love conversations with those of other spiritual disciplines and worldviews.” The diversity of Larry’s experiences makes him an ideal facilitator for this science & theology dialogue.