Conversations on Religion, Ethics, and Science (CORES)

CORES Conference 2021

2021 Conference on Religion, Ethics, & Science
Thursday, February 11, 2021 - Friday, February 12, 2021

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Conference Overview

Conference Overview

We live in a bitterly polarized moment in history. Religious, ethical, and scientific precepts foundational to our society are being challenged inside and outside of the academy in increasingly harsh, polemical, and distorted ways. Controversy over climate change is but one of many examples of this polarization that has global consequences for present and future generations. Respectful, informed, and productive dialogue on issues critical to the flourishing of humanity and the natural world is needed now more than ever.

Hosted at Arizona State University, Conversations on Religion, Ethics, and Science (CORES) will seek to model a dialogical approach of intellectual humility and relational integrity to help correct the current dysfunction. By bringing together scholars, students, and life-long learners from a variety of academic disciplines and religious and secular communities, much can be achieved through dialogue that is not only informed and respectful, but also productive and solutions oriented.

Over the course of the project, CORES will multiply these conversations through a series of public events and conferences, creating ​what Rabbi Jonathan Sacks called an “arena of conversation” in order to solve difficult problems at the intersection of science and technology and the theory and practice of religion and ethics, to engender new understandings of the “world as it is” and “what it ought to be.”

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Conference Schedule

Conference Schedule
Thursday, February 11th, 2021

Welcome and Overview:
Conversations on Religion, Ethics, and Science

Speakers: Pauline Davies and Barry Ritchie

The 2021 Conference on Religion, Ethics, and Science will host a wide range of conversations by leading scholars on religious and ethical questions related to science and technology. This welcome session will provide an overview and orientation for the CORES program, introducing both the topics and the people who will facilitate each of the conversation sessions.

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Conversation One:
On Science, Wisdom, and the Common Good

Speakers: Elliot Dorff and Kevin FitzGerald with Paul CarreseBen Hurlbut, and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, moderated by Pauline Davies

Since the Enlightenment, science has been seen as the engine of progress, the main source of solutions to social problems, and the arbiter of truth.  While science provides knowledge about the world, wisdom is broader in scope, addressing the meaning of human life and pondering how humans relate to the natural world, to other humans, and to the ultimate source of meaning (i.e., "God" by whatever name).  How should we understand relations between science and other forms of knowledge and traditions of wisdom? How can those understandings inform the relationships between religious, scientific, and democratic communities? The panelists will address these questions in light of advances in contemporary biotechnology.

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Friday, February 12th, 2021

Conversation Two:
Toward a Humane Economy

Speakers: Mary HirschfeldRuss Roberts, and Vernon Smith with Ross Emmett, moderated by Barry Ritchie

Our usual assumption about market exchange is that individuals are interested only in their own wants, and not the needs and wants of others. Prosperity is not necessarily bad, but we should restrain our pursuit of it if we seek the common good. If this is right, can economists be moral? How do we reconcile the assumptions of economics as the most successful of the social sciences with the ethical demands that emerge from our religious beliefs?

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Conversation Three:
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Science and Technology

Speakers: Elaine Howard Ecklund with Tara Nkrumah, and Patricia Rankin, moderated by Vanessa Ruiz

Prof. Ecklund will present findings from Secularity and Science (Oxford, 2019), based on the most comprehensive international study of scientists' attitudes about religion, gender, and ethics ever undertaken. She will discuss how scientists can understand and engage with the impact of religion on society to increase racial and gender representation in science. Prof. Rankin will review the ASU Charter stating that the university will be “measured not by whom we exclude, but rather by whom we include and how they succeed." A key example of this institutional commitment to inclusion is ASU’s Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology, where Dr. Nkrumah is a Scholar.

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Lunch & Learn Presentations
12:00 noon

Select one session to join. Video records of each conversation will be available after the conference.

Conversation Four:
What Does God Actually Do?

Speakers: Sarah CoakleyGeorge Ellis, and Keith Ward with Paul Davies, moderated by Pauline Davies

The word ‘God’ means very different things to different people, ranging from an abstract ground of existence, to a miracle-working super-being manifested in the unfolding natural order. Age-old theological debates such as whether God is inside or outside of time, and whether divine intervention implies a flawed universe, take on a new perspective in light of modern science. In the age of big bang cosmology, laboratory experiments to create life and searches for extraterrestrial intelligence, the question of God’s action in the world is thrown into sharp relief. If science can explain the universe, is there anything left for God to do?

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Conversation Five:
Theology, Technology, and a Post-secular World

Speakers: Michael Burdett with Gaymon BennettBen Hurlbut, and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, moderated by John Carlson

Science and technology are seen as exemplars of the secular even as the boundaries between science and religion, the secular and the sacred are quite porous. And yet the idea that science and technology are not only secular but also secularizing continues to shape public life and to govern ideals of “progress.” In this conversation, we will ask what these transformations mean for the study of religion and the future of secularism.

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Conference conclusion:

Closing Comments

Happy Hour Chat

We invite conference participants to wrap up the conference with us in an informal environment to continue the rich conversations started throughout the last two days.  This is an opportunity to interact and network with other attendees and think about next steps to continue the conversation around religion, ethics and science in our own spheres.  So, grab your favorite beverage and that hastily written down quote from a session that really got you thinking and join us!

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Conference Partners

Conference Partners

CORES is made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation in association with the Arizona Center for Christian Studies

This event is presented in cooperation with the following academic units at ASU: