|Dear WesleyNexus Colleague:
We at WesleyNexus hope the New Year has greeted you with hope and promise. We look forward to
connecting with our participants on programs, resources and other issues throughout the coming year.
Below you will find a number of items we wish to draw to your attentions.
Nobel Prize Winner in Physics to Participate in Evolution Weekend Panel
Dr. John Mather, Nobel Prize in physics, 2006 will be participating in a panel discussion with Dr.
Connie Bertka (Co-chair of the Smithsonian Human Origins Project), Rabbi George Driesen
(Founder and President of the Institute for Science and Judaism), and Thomas Burnett (recently part
of the BioLogos Foundaton team and now with the National Academy of Sciences). The panel
discussion will provide expert commentary following the live webcast of “Evolving Universe,
Evolving Faith” a production of Darkwood Brew online Christian ministry (Omaha, NE) in
celebration of Evolution Weekend.
All are invited! This event will be held on Sunday Evening, February 10, 2013, 5:30pm to 8:30 pm
at the Baltimore-Washington Conference United Methodist Church Mission Center (11711 East
Market Place, Fulton, MD). Come listen and participate in this multimedia interfaith event! Enjoy
fellowship and discussion with others interested in the mysteries, magnificence, and process of
creation, and in the challenges and opportunities at the intersection of religion and science. The live
webcast will be shown on two large projection screens and our expert panel discussion with audience
participation will follow the webcast. Ample free parking is available at the Conference Center.
WesleyNexus is happy to be a sponsor of this Maryland program.
For those who are not able to be in Maryland for the program, the live webcast with Dr. Grace Wolf-
Chase, Astrophysicist with the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and Sr. Research Associate with the
Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Chicago and Rev. Bruce Booher, ordained
pastor with Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and a member of the Lutheran Alliance for Faith,
Science and Technology, can be accessed via the web at the Darkwood Brew website. Darkwood
Brew’s Dr. Eric Elnes will be the online host of the event which begins at 6:00 EST on February
The flyer of the event can be found here. Please post it and share with those whom you think will be
enriched by this event. If you have any questions, please check the Maryland website at www.
EvolutionWeekendMD.com or send an email to EvolutionWeekendMD@gmail.com. You can also
reach WesleyNexus, Inc. via email at WesleyNexus@aol.com.
Renowned sociologist Peter Berger will present a lecture arguing that secularization theory—the idea
that modernity necessarily leads to a decline of religion—has been falsified. Instead of our time being
an age of secularity, ours is an age of pluralism. Our problem is not that belief in God is no more but
that ours is a time of belief in many gods and that “there are too many of them around.”
Berger will present an outline of a theory of pluralism for the modern era on February 5, 2013 at the
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs of Georgetown University at 12 pm.
RSVP is required and can be accessed on the event web page here.
Myth of Universal Love
On January 5th, Stephen Asma wrote a provocative thought peace for the NY Times Stone Forum
where he questions the viability of universal love as a moral principle for which we should all strive.
As he puts it, “in the light of the new year, it’s worth considering how far we actually can, or should,
extend this good will.” In answering this proposal, Asma states that he is not a proponent of universal
love. As a self-described secularist, he views the problem from an evolutionary perspective.
“Empathy is actually a biological emotion (centered in the limbic brain) that comes in degrees, because
it has a specific physiological chemical progression. Empathy is not a concept, but a natural biological
event —an activity, a process”. A person who stands squarely within the Wesleyan tradition of loving
one’s neighbor will find this article a challenge, both for the faith itself and the dialog of faith with
science. As such, it provides a stimulus for critical thought. The article can be found here.
Reviews of Tom Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos
Tom Nagel is University Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University and a
distinguished critic of reductive materialism which states that everything can be understood by
understanding chemistry and biology. In Tom Nagel’s recent book, Mind and Cosmos, Nagel lays out
in a short, crisp fashion his criticism of “materialistic naturalism”. Not surprisingly, his book has
stimulated quite a response.
In October, Brian Leiter and Michael Weisberg published an article , “Do You Only Have a Brain? On
Thomas Nagel”, in The Nation, deeply critical of his position. Then in January in The New York
Review of Books, H. Allen Orr, in a tone a little less strident but no less critical, challenges Nagel’s
naturalistic teleology. In “Awaiting a New Darwin", Orr, though admitting that one cannot rule out the
possibility of teleology in nature, asserts that the real question “is not whether teleology is formally
compatible with the practice of science. The question is whether the practice of science leads to taking
teleology seriously.” Since, for Orr, the scientific evidence for teleology does not exist, there is no
reason for taking it seriously now. To do so will require a radical change.
For many in the science and religion dialog, however, Orr’s assertion is old hat. Science is
methodologically ill-suited to uncover intimations of purpose. John Haught, Philip Clayton,
Michael Ruse, John Cobb and John Polkinghorne, to name just a view, have presented cogent
arguments for teleology within an evolutionary framework. But the conversation will continue with
Nagel’s book being the most recent catalyst.
Profiles In (Evolutionary) Courage
Over the last few years, Michael Zimmerman, founder of the Clergy Letter Project (and also a
member of the WesleyNexus Advisory Board) has highlighted individuals who have responded to
intimidations against the teaching of biological evolution by standing up and being heard. The stories
of Denise, Al, Ron and other clergy, and Zack provide evidence of how difficult it is in some
communities to stand up for the teaching of solid science.
Please let us hear from you as you continue your search for meaning and discover articles and books,
webcasts and upcoming programs that we can share with others.
Rick Barr, Secretary, WesleyNexus
|January 28, 2013