That’s Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is apparently holding a science festival on April 12-April 21. Not a bad idea in the home of Harvard and MIT.
But what are these events doing there?:
April 14, 10:00am – 11:00am
Sunday – Life, the Universe, & EverythingFirst Church Somerville UCC, 89 College Avenue, just north of Davis Square. First Church Somerville UCC is a church made up of many inquiring minds, a critical mass of professional scientists, and all kinds of spiritual seekers. This Sunday we will be exploring what kinds of conversation, common ground, or integration might exist between science and religion, faith and reason. What can our spirituality learn from science and can science be enlightened by faith? All are welcome here! First Church Somerville UCC Cost: Free
You can bet that there won’t be anyone saying that there can’t be a productive “conversation” between science and faith!
April 21, 10:00am – 11:00am
Science and Spirituality Sunday
Faith Responds to Climate Change. First Church Somerville UCC, 89 College Avenue, just north of Davis Square First Church Somerville. UCC is a church made up of many inquiring minds, a critical mass of professional scientists, and all kinds of spiritual seekers. This Sunday we’ll be exploring in worship how faith might or must respond to the science of climate change and the reality of global warming. All are welcome here! First Church Somerville UCC. Cost: Free
The Passion of the Cosmos: Scientists on Evolution, Cosmology, and Religion: Open Forum
Sunday, April 21
The Monastery of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, 980 Memorial Dr., Cambridge
Science, religion, and more! Noted scientists of faith will share their experience of religious practice and scientific discipline. Share your own experiences, ask questions, pose challenges, or simply, come, watch, listen, and learn.
John Durant, Ph.D. | Director of MIT Museum and Adjunct Professor in the MIT Program in Science, Technology, and SocietyIan Hutchinson, Ph.D. | MIT Professor of Nuclear Science and EngineeringDavid K.Urion, M.D. | Head of the Behavioral Neurology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital; Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard MedicalJennifer Wiseman, Ph.D. | Astronomer; Director of the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) for the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Note how the title echoes Mel Gibson’s odious film, ‘The Passion of the Christ”, and that this event is held at a monastery.
Wiseman is head of the DoSER program (Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, sponsored by Templeton; Hutchinson is a Christian physicist who is part of the Templeton-funded “Test of Faith” project and has decried scientism; and David K. Urion’s books include Having a God Day, And One was a Doctor, and One was a Priest, and Compassion as a Subversive Activity: Illness, Community, and the Gospel of Mark.
As always, my question is this: “What the hell are these events doing in a science festival?” My first guess, of course, was that some of the money came from the Templeton Foundation, but the list of sponsors doesn’t show that. Rather, many sponsors are reputable, including MIT, Harvard, and the National Science Foundation. (I wonder whether any public money, such as that dispensed by the NSF, funded these religious events.)
At any rate, it still mystifies me that it’s almost obligatory for science festivals to have events that emphasize the harmony between science and religion. I see no need for that. Would the festival be less popular without these three events? I doubt it.
And given that most scientists aren’t religious, especially the accomplished ones, if we must hear the pro-accommodationist side, do we ever get to hear the other? I’m not holding my breath.
My own view, though, is that we needn’t hear either side of the science-and-religion debates at these events. Let the organizers stick to science. These are science festivals, not science-and-religion festivals.
What’s next—attempts to reconcile science and astrology?