Renowned Scientist Denis Alexander to give 2014 Herrmann Lectures on Faith and Science
Denis Alexander will present the 2014 Herrmann Lectures on Faith and Science November 5 through November 7 on the campus of Gordon College in Wenham, MA. This year’s lectures will examine the topic, “Is Life Going Anywhere? Creation-Biology, Randomness, and Purpose.” The annual series is hosted by Gordon’s Center for Faith and Inquiry (CFI) in partnership with the John Templeton Foundation.
“Denis will address a number of theological and philosophical matters at the crossroads of modern science (biology in particular) and Christian belief,” CFI Director Thomas Albert (Tal) Howard said. “Many at Gordon have encountered these questions before, but I suspect Dr. Alexander’s perspective will expand our frame of reference and depth of knowledge.”
Alexander, who is an emeritus professor of the Faraday Institute at St. Edmund’s College in Cambridge, will give three lectures: “The Lion Roars: Creation and Biology” at 7 p.m. on November 5; “The Farmer Sows: Biology, Randomness, and Purpose” at 4:30 p.m. on November 6; and “The Creation Groans: Biology and the Problem of Suffering” at 4:30 p.m. on November 7, all in the Ken Olsen Science Center on the Gordon campus. They are free and open to the public, and the public is invited to receptions that begin a half hour prior to each lecture.
Last year, Gordon faculty members Brian Glenney (philosophy), Craig Story (biology) and Mike Veatch (mathematics and computer science) conducted a CFI-sponsored fellowship project on a related topic, titled “A New Approach on Theistic Evolution: Determinate Outcomes of Random Processes.” It is a subject that Story says is “on the true cutting edge of the philosophy of science and theology.”
“I have found over and over again that Christians who have trouble with evolution usually reject the idea that it is an unguided and random process,” Story said. “Therefore it is critical to carefully discuss the meaning of the terms ‘random’ and ‘unguided.’ For example, just how random is biological evolution? The idea that anything at all in God’s universe can be random is one that has been rejected by some. Yet scientists use the term to mathematically describe many processes of the world.”
Alexander, who gave the prestigious Gifford Lectures at Saint Andrew’s University in 2012, was an Open Scholar at Oxford and received a Ph.D. in neurochemistry at King’s College, London. He currently serves on the National Committee of Christians in Science. He is a member of the executive committee of the International Society for Science and Religion, and is on the board of advisors at The BioLogos Forum. Alexander has served at the Molecular Immunology Programme; the Laboratory of Lymphocyte Signalling and Development; the Imperial Cancer Research Laboratories in London; and American University of Beirut, Lebanon. In addition, he spent 15 years developing university departments and laboratories overseas, helping establish the National Unit of Human Genetics.
“He is a devout and deeply accomplished individual,” Howard said. “We are privileged to host such a prestigious scholar.”
The CFI and the Templeton Foundation co-sponsor the Herrmann Lectures to honor the pioneering work of Dr. Robert Herrmann, who addressed, throughout his distinguished career, the “Big Questions” around the theme of science and religion. His friendship and collaboration with Sir John Templeton enabled numerous groundbreaking events, networks, programs and publications that greatly expanded the group of strategic thinkers engaged in conversation on the crucial relationship between these two fields of study. Now in its third year, each fall the Hermann Lectures engages a world-class thinker to develop an in-depth, original perspective on a topic on the threshold of science and religion in three lectures over several days, and to engage their peers and colleagues in thought-provoking dialogue. Following each lecture, distinguished scholars formally respond to the ideas presented in the lectures. In 2013, noted astronomer and historian of science Owen Gingerich spoke about the nature of science and the central theses of seminal scientists Copernicus, Darwin and Hoyle; his book based on those lectures, God’s Planet, was released this month by Harvard University Press.
A complete schedule and further informaton, including details about the scholars who will respond to the lectures, is available online at www.gordon.edu/herrmannlectures. For information on the Hermann Lectures on Faith and Science, or to schedule an interview with CFI Director Tal Howard, contact Ryan Groff at the Center for Faith and Inquiry at Gordon College at [email protected] or (978) 867-4227.
Gordon College is a multi-denominational Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston’s North Shore, offering majors in 38 fields with graduate programs in education and music education. Gordon is nationally recognized for excellence in academics and in character building, and ranks as one of the nation’s top Christian colleges.
The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. We support research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will. We encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights.