Jefferson Center Summer Institute

Matt Young has a report on Panda’s Thumb about the Jefferson Center’s Summer Institute this year — an event where I appeared as the “skeptical scientist” representative. It was fun, and I was impressed with the Jefferson Center. I’d urge anyone interested in a humanistic viewpoint that’s about more than religion-bashing to get involved, especially if you live in Oregon or northern California.

One observation. Usually the creation/evolution issue stands out as the main area of friction between science and religion today, often leading to the notion that it’s only fundamentalist religion that has any gripe with science. Since many of the other presenters at the Summer Institute hailed from liberal religious backgrounds, it was an interesting occasion to highlight a clash between current scientific trends and non-fundamentalist religion. And that’s the issue of physicalism in general and cognitive neuroscience in particular. There’s some serious fear and loathing among non-fundamentalists as well, though it’s more likely to surface as an internal squabble within intellectual and academic circles, with lots of words like “reductionism” and “scientism” being thrown around.

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