Lecture 1: "Science and Faith: Conflicting or Enriching?"—September 18, 7:30–9:30 pm
Professor McGrath, a leading authority in the field, will speak of his own perception of science and religious faith, reflecting on his progression from atheism to Christianity. The lecture will focus on two central ways of understanding the relation of science and religious faith, the “conflict” or “warfare” model, adopted by Richard Dawkins; the second is an “enrichment” model, adopted by McGrath, which holds that the natural sciences and religious faith can complement each other, and seen together, lead to a richer and deeper vision of life.
Lecture 2: "God, Science & the Meaning of Life: C.S. Lewis and Richard Dawkins"—September 19, 7:30–9:30 pm
C. S. Lewis is one of the best-known Christian apologists in the world. Richard Dawkins is one of the best-known atheist apologists in the world. Alister McGrath has written acclaimed studies of each of these fascinating authors. What do they have to say on the meaning of life? How do they understand the role of the natural sciences as we work out the meaning of life? In this lecture, Professor McGrath will dialogue with both writers, exploring their vastly differing opinions.
Lecture: "Is there a Future for 'Natural Theology?' Evolution, Cooperation, and the Question of God"—October 4, 7:30–9:30 pm
In recent decades, many have portrayed evolution as a process based solely on genetic selfishness, otherwise devoid of positive structure or meaning. In this lecture, Professor Sarah Coakley draws on recent developments in mathematical biology to outline a richer, multi-levelled depiction. She will argue that the competitive drive of individuals to gain genetic advantage is only one of the explanations for evolutionary cooperation; a fuller understanding of the mechanisms at work indicates a much richer picture, in which selection and cooperation are in constant dialectical play throughout the evolutionary spectrum.
After establishing the biological evidence for these cooperative processes, Coakley will guide us through the philosophical, ethical, and theological implications. This new understanding of cooperation within evolution not only re-opens the vexed question of evolutionary "teleology", but may be argued to lead toward a natural basis for ethics. It is a short step from here to ask about the future possibilities for a new "natural theology," though one very different from classic modern forms. More concretely, can this re-evaluation of our ancient evolutionary past enhance our capacity for intentional human cooperation (altruism) in facing our current political, ethical, and ecological crises?