February 22, 2015

Dear WesleyNexus Colleague:

I just finished watching the wonderful movie “The Theory of Everything” which portrays the life of
Stephen Hawking, a name known by most in the western world either through his writings or via popular
shows like "The Simpsons" or "The Big Bang Theory".  I remember reading that his book,
A Brief History
of Time
, was one of those coffee table books which everyone owned and displayed in their living rooms
but few actually read.  So people know Stephen Hawking and through the movie they may get a sense of
his personal struggles and triumphs.   Near the end of the movie, there is a scene which shows Hawking
meeting the Queen of England where he was awarded knighthood, though he privately declined the honor.  
This was certainly a high point of his life.  However, I was a bit disappointed that the movie failed to
mention another high point in his life, the meeting that Hawking had in 1981 with Pope John Paul II during
a conference of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.  For the English, the Queen of England is rightly
revered but from a global perspective few persons have the stature of Pope John Paul II (and I say that
being a liberal Methodist!).  Given the misunderstanding of both science and religion and the presumed
conflict that exists between them, the movie could have presented a scene that helped dispel some of the
fictions of the relationship between these core human activities.  Dispelling misunderstanding and
misperception has been a primary goal of WesleyNexus over the past five years.  We appreciate your
participation in this effort and hope you continue to find value in what WesleyNexus has to offer.    

We continue to ask for your support.  WesleyNexus is very much a virtual organization.  I write this on my
home computer using free email and incurring no organizational expense.  All funds that we collect are
spent on maintaining our web presence, sponsoring programs, distributing the newsletter and promoting
activities of other organizations within the science and religion space.
All contributions are acknowledged for tax reporting purposes. Please consider supporting us with a
contribution either through the PayPal DONATE link below, or, by sending a check to:  

WesleyNexus, Inc.  
24500 Fossen Road
Damascus, MD 20872

Thanks in advance for your support.

God Bless,

Rick Barr, Secretary,
WesleyNexus, Board of Directors

WesleyNexus Evolution Weekend, February 15, 2015 was a Success !

On February 15th, Fulton, MD was in the midst of the cold snap brought
to us by what weather people call the Siberian Express which still continues
its tight grasp on the Southern and Eastern half of the United States.  That
afternoon, over forty people braved sub-freezing weather and marginal road
conditions to listen to a panel of four persons discuss what it means to be
a person of faith (or no faith) in the modern, scientific world.  The panel
included Haytham Younis, a student of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Dennis
Skocz, Ph.D., career diplomat, Catholic, and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy
at UDC, Daniel Spiro, a Jewish author and coordinator of the Washington
Spinoza Society, and John Shook, Ph. D., Instructor in science education at the University of Buffalo,
speaking on behalf of non-theistic humanists.  We very much appreciate our co-sponsors, including the two
primary: the Institute for Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS)
www.IRAS.org, and the Clergy Letter
Project at
www.theclergyletter.org. The two-hour video of the event can be found on our website at www.
wesnex.org.  We encourage you to view it and perhaps convene a small discussion group, utilizing the
“questions for discussion” that are still on the website.  You can actually view the program in 20-30 minute
segments with a Sunday School class or other small group. Afterwards, please let us know what you think
by sending an email to WesleyNexus@aol.com.  

Is Christian Belief Conducive to Doing Good Science? A Live Internet Debate on
February 24, 2015 at 7:00 PST

Dr. Ted Davis, Fellow of the History of Science for the BioLogos
Foundation and Professor of the History of Science at Messiah
College, will debate Bernie Dehler, an atheist (former evangelical
born-again Christian) and the author of the booklet "Modern Science
and Philosophy Destroy Christian Theology.”  Dr. Davis has been
a longtime supporter of science and religion dialogue in the mid-
Atlantic region through his regular discussions at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.  For more information
go to

Reminder: DoSER Program of AAAS: Science Perceptions National Conference, March 13, 2015.  


Registration for the Science Perceptions Conference is now open with the conference rate of $79.   You
may register

“Perceptions: Science and Religious Communities” is a national conference
that will bring together leaders in science and religion—including DoSER
director Jennifer Wiseman, National Association of Evangelicals president
Leith Anderson, and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe—to further
conversation and to plan a course for future dialogue.”  

The list of speakers includes Nobel Prize winner in physics William D.
Phillips, climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe, DoSER director Jennifer Wiseman
and Leith Anderson, the President of the National Association of Evangelicals.  Additional speakers are
listed on the website which can be found

Reminder: 50th Anniversary Meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society, March 6-7, 2015

The 2015/50th Anniversary Meeting of the Wesleyan Theological
Society will be held at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Mount
Vernon Ohio, on March 6-7, 2015. The meeting keynote speakers
will be Doug Strong, Seattle Pacific University, and Beth Felker Jones,
Wheaton College.  The Presidential address will be given by Richard
Thompson, Northwest Nazarene University.  The two-day session will follow the annual meeting of the
Wesleyan Philosophical Society, and persons can register for both. The WTS Conference will feature a
wide variety of topics in the Wesleyan tradition, including Biblical Studies, Moral Theology, Theology and
Practical Culture, Ecumenical Studies, and Women's Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition. WesleyNexus
Advisory Board member Dr. Thomas Oord of Northwestern Nazarene University will play a prominent
part in the proceedings. WesleyNexus President Dr. Moore has had a paper approved and scheduled in the
section Theology and Science: his topic will be “John Wesley's Engagement with the Science of his Day.”
Please mark your calendar now and save the date.  We hope that you will join us for the conference in
Mount Vernon, Ohio March 6-7. More information is on the website:

Transhumanism Conference, Conference Dates:  July 26-31, 2015; Location: Juniata College
Chaired by: Don Braxton, J Omar Good Professor of Religious Studies, Juniata College,
Huntingdon, PA

Technology is leading humanity into some wondrous and
peculiar places.  Daily reports point to the emergence of
quantitatively and qualitatively new modes of existence,
knowledge, and behavior. The conference - Our
Transhuman Futures - brings together people from all
over the world who are pioneering the edges of these realities.  It will be four days of exciting presentations,
demos, theater pieces, and art exhibits of our transhuman futures. Consider what projects you might
present at this exciting event.  Network with others working in these fields. Registration is now open and
we are accepting proposals in many domains. Visit the webpage

Early Adversity and Later-Life Illness: March 29, 2015 @ 7:00 p.m., The Institute for Science and
Judaism & Temple Beth Ami

Two researchers, Dr. David Reiss and Dr.
Stephen Suomi will discuss their collaboration,
which has the ultimate goal of developing both
childhood and adult forms of therapies for
prevention and reversal of the liability for numerous medical problems that result from early adversity.  The
event page with flyer for the program can be found

Note: Rabbi George B. Driesen, the Institute's founder and President, has been a long-time supporter of
WesleyNexus.  We encourage our participants to take advantage of this unique and important program
sponsored by ISJ and Temple Beth Ami.  

“New Conversations in Science and Religion: What Difference Might Critical Realist Philosophy

An Interdisciplinary Conference, July 30-31, 2015, University of Notre Dame, IN
Center for the Study of Religion and Society, Christian Smith, Professor of Sociology, Director


Critical realism is an innovative philosophical
framework with the potential to open up space
for constructive dialogue between the natural and
social sciences, the study of religion, the humanities,
and people and communities of faith. Critical realism seems more suited than other competing philosophies
of science (positivism, hermeneutics, postmodernism) to take seriously the truth claims and inner worlds of
religious believers. A neo-Aristotelian realism of this kind takes seriously ontology and emergence, which
allows for considering ideas like “love,” “forgiveness,” “virtue,” “flourishing,” and “divinity” as real and
powerful causal forces, important for a more complete explanation of social phenomena. Religious
perspectives may also have much to learn about science through critical realism. The goal of this
conference is to further advance dialogues between science, religion, philosophy, and theology by drawing
diverse thinkers together to consider the possibilities of better mutual understanding across these different
fields of knowledge and inquiry.

This one day-long mini-conference immediately follows the annual meeting of the International Association
of Critical Realism (IACR), also to be held at the University of Notre Dame campus, from July 27-30,
2015. The joint scheduling of these two conferences is intended to encourage overlap between the two
conferences’ participants. Consider attending both conferences, from July 27-31. Thanks to several
generous grants we are able to provide housing and food at a very low cost to participants. The cost of
attendance at the one-day conference is $125.00, which includes two nights lodging and full board (three
meals daily). The cost of attendance at the IACR conference is $400.00, which includes five nights lodging
and full board. The registration deadline is May 30, 2015. After that deadline, an additional $40.00 charge
will be applied. (We are also able to provide a limited number of scholarships to faculty from colleges and
universities (1) with a Catholic mission or (2) affiliated with the Council of Christian Colleges and
Universities (CCCU).

More information is available at:

Reminder: 61st Annual meeting of the Institute for Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS) –
Star Island (off Portsmouth), New Hampshire, August 8-15, 2015
Call for Papers, deadline February 1, 2015; website:

Theme: Unsettling Science and Religion:Contributions & Questions from Queer Studies

The goal  of the 2015 IRAS conference is to borrow the
techniques and challenges from within queer studies and queer
theory, with the goal of unsettling —or “queering” —our own
discipline(s).  To this end, we call for papers and poster
presentations on topics at the intersection of religion, science and queer theory.  This might include ways to
challenge the boundaries within and between religion and science, and or between and within the academy,
as well as the boundaries of the sacred and secular, of reason and faith. Ultimately, we want to ask how
queer religion, science and philosophy, can and/or should be.

Confirmed keynote speakers include: Carol Wayne White, Karen Barad, Fern Feldman, Billy Grassie,
Catherine Keller, Laurel Schneider, Emilie Townes, Claudia Schippert, Whitney Bauman, Lisa Stenmark,
and Chapel Speaker, Donna Schaper.

The Pope’s Astrophysicist by Margaret Wertheim

I didn’t remember when Stephen Hawking met the Pope so I went to
Google and landed upon an old but interesting article by Margaret
Wertheim on George Coyne, at one time a director and research
scientist at the Vatican Observatory.  Coyne was at the conference
and Wertheim had this to say about the meeting: “Father Coyne was
also at the conference. Like most fellow scientists he is impressed by
Hawking's mental agility and does not quibble with his physics. But
genius or not, Hawking's grasp of theology is sorely lacking. It is
"just silly," Coyne says, "to suggest that this kind of cosmological theory
does away with God." He simply does not understand the theological issues.
At the Pontifical Academy meeting, Coyne admonished Hawking, "Stephen, God is not a boundary
condition." You can find the Wertheim article

Quantum Weirdness: On the Mystery in Nature

Commenting on a recent article in “Nature Physics,” Edward Frenkel,
professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley and
author of
Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality, reminds us
that from what we can determine based on the current state of physics,
the world is quite odd, even weird.  Or as he puts it, “Is there a fixed
reality apart from our various observations of it? Or is reality nothing
more than a kaleidoscope of infinite possibilities?”  It appears that the latter is closer to the evidence at
hand.  You can read the article

Thanks to Jerald Robertson of IRASNet for bringing this to my attention

Transfiguration Sunday or Evolution Weekend by Tony Mitchell, PhD        

This year Evolution Weekend and Transfiguration Sunday happened
to take place on the same day.  On Facebook the day before, I read a
post by Rev. Allan R. Bevere, Pastor at The First United Methodist
Church of Akron, Ohio, Professional Fellow in Theology at Ashland
Theological Seminary, and Ordained Elder at East Ohio Conference of
the United Methodist Church:  “Tomorrow is Evolution Sunday, but
I won't be worshiping with Charles Darwin. It's not because I don't
believe in evolution. Indeed, I do. In fact, I think evolution is much more compatible with a trinitarian view
of God than a static 7-day account of creation, which puts too many restrictions on how the first chapters
of Genesis must be read. I won't be recognizing Evolution Sunday tomorrow simply because it's
Transfiguration Sunday and that trumps everything else. What say you?”  I invited him to take advantage
of both by celebrating Transfiguration Sunday in the morning and then tuning into WesleyNexus for
Evolution Weekend in the afternoon.  I don’t know whether he took me up on this offer.  I received no
reply.  However, I did discover a post by Tony Mitchell PhD affirming that instead of being in opposition,
these two can be seen as complimentary. Tony’s blog can be found

Sean Carroll: Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

This past week I ran across an article that brought to my attention an area of speculation and research that I
had not thought about for quite a while.  Like many non-scientists who read in the area of physics and
cosmology, I have been aware of the “many-worlds hypothesis” (Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum
Mechanics or MWI) and pretty much dismissed it as merely speculative thinking buttressed by mathematics
that I would never understand.  It seemed to me that it would be impossible to gain empirical evidence for
such a claim.  Well, in his blog of February 19, physicist Sean Carroll, directs his thoughts to counter these
assumptions. He clearly states that “The people who object to MWI because of all those unobservable
worlds aren’t really objecting to MWI at all; they just don’t like and/or understand quantum mechanics.”  
Well he is right, I certainly don’t truly understand it at the level of mathematical theory; it certainly is a
puzzle.  (Find his article

Then on Thursday, February 19, I had a conversation with Anne Bouie, Artist in Residence at Wesley
Seminary who was fascinated with WesleyNexus once I told her who we were.  She then said she had run
across an article claiming that it may be possible to provide experimental evidence of MWI.  She was kind
enough to send me a couple of links that can be found
here and here.  

Thanks Anne!

Transform 2015: April 23-25 in Washington, DC

A Facebook friend has invited me and members of the
WesleyNexus community to join others in Washington,
DC to Transform 2015 on April 23-25.  Transform
Network is partnering with Wesley Theological Seminary
and a number of other institutions to “bring together people who are on the verge of starting new
communities (i.e., community catalysts) or are already cultivating new communities to give them the
encouragement and resources they need to get started.”  For more information go to

Rabbi Jonathan Sachs (former chief rabbi of the UK) speaks on Science and Religion

This week’s Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly (podcast) continues an interview with
Rabbi Jonathan Sachs (former chief rabbi of the UK). He articulately and in
clear terms expresses the distinctions and connections between science and
religion. It strikes me that, considering both disciplines love to become mired in jargon
and intricate ‘frames of reference’, Sachs cuts through it all to discuss simple
but profound truth.  The podcast can be found

Rev. Bill Maisch