You’d think it’d be an easy week for staff while the hapless students prepare for exams – in fact there seems to be a huge number of conferences around the college this week. Not least of which is the SophiaEuropa Conference ‘Knowledge, Truth and Wisdom: Science, Religion and Culture in Shaping Europe’, mentioned in previous posts.
The conference started yesterday morning with a sociology session. There’s far too much to list here, but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed The Search for Meaning: Between Science and Religion, by keynote speaker Pofessor Tom Inglis of UCD. Dr Gary McDarby also gave an interesting talk, Technology Enhamced Evolution in the Absence of a Loving God, where he highlighted concerns that the pace of technological discovery has far outstripped our consideration of its effects on society.
There were a whole bunch of talks this morning that were also interesting. I think there will be a description of the talks on the conference website soon, but I must say I really liked Thomas Moellenbeck‘s talk on the famous argument from design (see posts below). Thomas presented a comparison of the argument from design as articulated recently by Cardinal von Schborn (‘intelligent design’), and that of Cardinal Newman – it seems Newman felt such arguments lead straight to atheism!
I gave my own spiel then, a truncated version of my public seminar on the Big Bang (see The Big Bang and the Mind of God posts below). Of course I used up most of the session presenting the basic evidence and theory of the model, before getting to the philosophical implications, but I think that’s the price you pay for tackling modern subjects. It’s worth doing this – after all, not everyone knows that a prediction of modern physics is that the universe may not have a ‘before’ (from general relativity) or even a ’cause’ (from quantum). There wasn’t really time to go into Hawking’s analogue of God and the Queen (below), but I enjoyed giving the talk. Afterwards, the questions were tough enough, as you might expect in a roomful of theologians.
Professor Eamonn Conway of Mary Immaculate College, Eric Weislogel (Executive Director of Metanexus, sponsors of the conference), and I then went off for a radio discussion on WLR. I must say I thought the DJ (Billy McCarthy) did a very good job of probing our different positions on life, the universe and everything, with Eric acting as umpire between Eamonn and I. It goes out tomorrow morning sometime, must remember to record it while we’re at the conference…
When I finally made it back to my office this afternoon, I noticed a Materials Conference in full swing in the adjacent building. I had a look at the posters and the schedule of talks. You know what, I don’t miss technical research at all. I far prefer interdisciplinary debates with philosophers and theologians on the meaning of science etc…pity it took me so many years to figure this out!