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Alan Lightman: Science & Religion
EVENT DESCRIPTION Fact and Faith In this lecture, Alan Lightman discusses the differences between science and religion in their beliefs, in the ways those beliefs are arrived at, and in what constitutes authority and evidence for the beliefs. Lightman looks at the differences between the spiritual and physical worlds. Central to religious and spiritual beliefs is the highly personal “transcendent experience”—and the authority for it arises from the experience itself. Central to most scientific beliefs is impersonal testing in the external world. Science and religion differ profoundly in the process of revision: all knowledge in science is considered provisional, subject to test and revision when needed. Lightman is a writer and physicist and has served on the faculties of Harvard and MIT, where he was the first person to receive a joint position in the sciences and in the humanities. ABOUT THE SPEAKER Alan Lightman is an American writer, physicist, and social entrepreneur. Born in 1948, he was educated at Princeton and at the California Institute of Technology, where he received a PhD in theoretical physics. He has received five honorary doctoral degrees. Lightman has served on the faculties of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was the first person at MIT to receive dual faculty appointments in science and in the humanities. He is currently professor of the practice of the humanities at MIT. His scientific research in astrophysics has concerned black holes, relativity theory, radiative processes, and the dynamics of systems of stars. His essays and articles have appeared in the Atlantic, Granta, Harper’s, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Salon, and many other publications. His essays are often chosen by the New York Times as among the best essays of the year. He is the author of 6 novels, several collections of essays, a memoir, and a book-length narrative poem, as well as several books on science. His novel Einstein’s Dreams was an international bestseller and has been the basis for dozens of independent theatrical and musical adaptations around the world. His novel The Diagnosis was a finalist for the National Book Award. His most recent books are The Accidental Universe, which was chosen by Brain Pickings as one of the 10 best books of 2014, and his memoir Screening Room, which was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the best books of the year for 2016. Lightman is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also the founder of the Harpswell Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to advance a new generation of women leaders in Southeast Asia.” GENERAL INFORMATION Our (usually) First Wednesday Dialog series brings in outside speakers to share interesting topics related to Humanism -- kind of like Ted Talk. We socialize and enjoy refreshments until about 7:15, at which point the speakers presents for as long as they choose, usually until 8:00 or so. At this point we pass the mic around and have a group discussion about the topic. When the discussion wraps up, we continue with more refreshments and socializing until around 9:00 when all attendees are welcome to join our open steering committee meeting. We take donations at the door to cover the cost of the meeting ($5 is suggested). Half of the donations (after we pay the rent) are given as an honorarium to the speaker with a $25 minimum. All regular attendees are encouraged to bring refreshments to share. Note that we have a large mailing list outside of Meetup.com so the RSVP numbers are generally much lower than the actual attendance.

First Parish In Concord

20 Lexington Road · Concord, MA

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The Concord Area Humanists are a casual and inclusive collection of Humanists and secularists of all types from the Concord area in Massachusetts. We meet several times a month to discuss topics related to Humanism. Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

You can learn more about us at our main website:

http://concordareahumanists.org/

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