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Research seminars

The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion Research Seminars are held at 1.00 p.m. on alternate Tuesdays in the Garden Room, Library Building, St. Edmundís College. A free light buffet lunch and drinks are served from 12.30 p.m. onwards. All are welcome.

The Garden Room is on the ground floor of the Library Building which is located in the far left-hand corner as you enter the College grounds. The free buffet lunch is served there.

Easter term

What are the similarities between scientific and theological explanations?

Prof. Rene van Woudenberg

Tuesday April 28, 2015

Garden Room, Library Building
St Edmund's College
Mount Pleasant
Cambridge
CB3 0BN

Abstract

Theories in Science and Theology: Their Roles and their Epistemic Statuses

This paper, first,  compares the roles that theories play in science and (Christian) theology respectively. The roles that are distinguished include: explanation, prediction, and understanding. It is argued that theories in theology partly play a role that is similar to the role that theories play in science. Second, the epistemic statuses of theories in science and theology are compared. It is argued that (some) theories in theology have epistemic statuses that theories in science lack. Finally it is explored under which conditions scientific and theological theories can be deemed compatible. It is argued that some form of non-scientism is required for this.

The Penultimate Curiosity?

Prof. Andrew Briggs

Tuesday May 12, 2015

Garden Room, Library Building
St Edmund's College
Mount Pleasant
Cambridge
CB3 0BN

Abstract

What lies at the root of the long entanglement between science and religion? Why, throughout the journey of human inquiry from cave painting to quantum physics, have attempts to describe the physical world that we can see been so closely enmeshed with the aspiration to see beyond the rim of the visible world?

The University cities of Oxford and Cambridge each contain a remarkable invocation with a fascinating history. Both are set in the seminal scientific buildings of the university, and both articulate a connection between science and faith. How did they come to be there, and what connects them? The curiosity that leads to the search for religious understanding and the curiosity that leads to the search for scientific understanding have common origins in aspects of the human mind that go back as far as the earliest records of human intellectual endeavour. Their relationship developed as the categories of religion and science became distinct and new information was discovered. The struggle to make sense of the world as a whole seems to be an urgent and fundamental requirement in all human societies – an ultimate curiosity that creates a slipstream of interest in which penultimate curiosities about particular aspects of the physical world have (to a greater or lesser extent) been able to swim. 

The Ethics of Cognitive Enhancement: A Theological Perspective

Prof. Neil Messer

Tuesday May 26, 2015

Garden Room, Library Building
St Edmund's College
Mount Pleasant
Cambridge
CB3 0BN

Abstract

The field of neuroethics gathers together a range of ethical questions, from the highly theoretical to the thoroughly practical, raised by current developments in neuroscience. At the practical end of the range are questions about the ethics of cognitive enhancement, or the use of technologies such as drugs to enhance the performance of human brains and minds beyond "natural" levels. Broadly speaking, two questions arise: first, can a meaningful distinction be drawn between uses of such technologies for therapy and for enhancement? Second, can their use for enhancement be morally justified? This lecture will survey selected philosophical discussions of these questions and offer a Christian response grounded in a theological account of health, disease and medicine. It will be argued that this account can support a coherent and morally significant distinction between therapy and enhancement, and supply criteria for the ethical evaluation of enhancement.


Further information about the Speakers may be obtained by clicking on the speaker's name above.