The Prophet and the Astronomer: Religious and Scientific Views of the "End of the World." Given that we, as a species, are painfully aware of our own mortality, our anxiety with respect to the "End" has been expressed since the dawn of history through religion, art, literature, and now science. This lecture explores the many connections between these topics, focusing in particular on how apocalyptic ideas influence the development of scientific theories today, from asteroid impact and black holes to the fate of the universe as a whole.
The Enigma of the 3 Origins: There are 3 questions which were once the province of religion and are now very much a topic of scientific research: the origin of the universe (where did everything come from?), the origin of life (how did life appear on Earth?), and the origin of mind (what makes the brain develop consciousness?). This lecture traces the many answers to these questions, beginning with religion and going all the way to cutting-edge scientific ideas.
Science, Power, and Society in the 21st Century: It is clear that we live in an age where information is power. However, there is also much confusion and frustration generated by the rapid pace of the computer industry, both in hardware (the fastest chips) and software (the latest version of Word, iMovie, FaceBook...). Ignoring science's latest advances will certainly leave you behind: the choices we must make as individuals and members of a democratic society depend on how well informed we are - genetic engineering and ethics, nuclear power and alternative energy sources, global warming, and "scientific terrorism" (bio-chemical warfare, computer hacking, etc.). This lecture reviews some of the cutting-edge ideas in these topics, inviting the audience to reflect on their role as individuals and as members of different communities in light of the latest scientific and political advances.
Science, Religion, and Society: This lecture surveys the
infamous "war" between
science and religion, following a historical perspective starting with
Augustine, moving on to the Renaissance and the Inquisition (Galileo,
Kepler, Newton), and ending with the advent of religious fundamentalism
creationism, both answers to the increased secularization of the modern
world. My approach is conciliatory, showing that there need not be a
between secularization and spirituality: the poison here is dogmatism,
the religious and the scientific camps.