Symposiums

Science or Religion? A Symposium 
Winchester Discovery Centre, SO23 8SB Saturday 3rd November 2018

Programme

09:30 Arrival, registration and housekeeping etc.

10:00 Bishop WELCOME and INTRO to Symposium

– inc brief history of science/religion and Catholic view on relationship of faith/reason.

 

10:30 KEYNOTE 1: Professor Alister E McGrath:

Does Recent Research on the Universe suggest the Existence of a Creator?

 

11:20 Coffee Break

Participants then choose (in advance) to participate in one of the following:

 

11:40 WORKSHOPS

1. Christianity and Extra-Terrestrial Life. Rev. Bernard Barrett, theologian

2. The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence Prof. Maria Burke, Professor of Management, Winchester University

3. Quantum Physics and the Quantum Physicist Dr. Vincenzo Tamma, Senior Lecturer in Physics, University of Portsmouth

 

12:40 Lunch Break

Participants choose (in advance) one of the following:

 

13:20 WORKSHOPS

4. Is Consciousness immortal? Dr. Andrew Beards, Academic Director, School of the Annunciation, Buckfast

5. In the light of evolutionary psychology, can humans have free will? Dr. Rebecca Page-Tickell, Business Psychologist, Hampshire Business School

6.In the light of current medical advances, could people live forever? Dr. John Ochai, Urologist, St Maryʼs Hospital, Ryde

 

14:20 KEYNOTE 2: Dr. Andrew Pinsent:

Does Recent Research on the Universe suggest the Existence of a Creator?

 

15:30 Panel Discussion (All the speakers)

16:00 Finish

 

Workshops to choose from

Participants then choose (in advance) to participate in one of the following:

 

11:40 WORKSHOPS

 

1. Christianity and Extra-Terrestrial Life. Rev. Bernard Barrett, theologian

Despite the work of NASA SETI and its successor Project Phoenix, we have had, to date, no empirical evidence to go on but there has been plenty of bold conjecture. The talk, however, will limit itself to focusing on the widespread claim that Christianity would either end or at least be brought into radical question if intelligent Extra-Terrestrial Life was discovered.

 

2. The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

 

Prof. Maria Burke, Professor of Management, Winchester University The impact of technology is not merely technological: it is relational and spiritual. The way we engage with it reflects the answer to the question that is so key for (our) faith: who is really in charge? (Brandon,

2016)

 

The aim of this workshop is to provide opportunity for discussion around the very topical, important and fast changing area of ethics and artificial intelligence. The workshop is open to all and will cover definitions of Artificial Intelligence (AI); defining what we mean by ethics in 2018; reviewing the current state of the discipline – what exists, what is in development, what is science fiction….but maybe possible one day. We will then consider if AI helps or hinders us in our daily lives; discuss the role of the government – whether regulation and legislation is even possible, and finally, if artificial systems are constructed by us, by humans, how do we ensure that they also uphold “values” –are we able “to integrate societal, legal and moral values into technological developments in AI” (Dignum, 2017). How can ethics help?

 

The above session will be followed by more informal small group discussions on a variety of AI and Ethics topical questions – everyone will be able to participate and have their views heard and discussed. By the end of the workshop we will have shared a wide range of differing views and perhaps be some way towards answering the “big question” of whether Science or Religion can provide the best answers and ways forward

 

3. Quantum Physics and the Quantum Physicist. Dr. Vincenzo Tamma, Senior Lecturer in Physics, University of Portsmouth

 

Quantum physics aims to describe the mysterious fundamental nature of our universe. In this talk, I will describe quantum phenomena like the wave-particle duality, quantum superposition of multiple physical states and the apparent possibility of distant particles to communicate instantaneously with one another, which had perplexed great scientists like Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman. These same phenomena underpins quantum technologies, such as lasers. high-precision sensors and super-fast computers, at the very heart of the current quantum revolution. A quantum physicist is therefore called to undertake a continuous exciting journey toward a deeper understanding of the truth behind the phenomena he is studying by placing his discoveries at the service and benefit of the society."

 

13:20 WORKSHOPS

4. Is Consciousness immortal? Dr. Andrew Beards, Academic Director, School of the Annunciation, Buckfast

Are our minds simply our brains? Is talk of a ʻsoulʼ simply superstitious myth of a pre-scientific past? Is the idea that part of us, at least, survives death, also to be relegated to the fiction section of the library?

 

In this workshop we will examine what the resources of philosophy – independent of any religious faith – can contribute to the argument that in fact human consciousness is not reducible entirely to the physical. We will look at what philosophy can offer in reflecting upon evidence, of various kinds, for the survival of the non-material aspect of ourselves after death.

 

5. In the light of evolutionary psychology, can humans have free will? Dr. Rebecca Page-Tickell, Business Psychologist, Hampshire Business School

A workshop discussing the implications of evolution on our patterns of thinking and perception and how they impact free will. We will highlight patterns of behaviour that are adaptations from our evolutionary past and consider possible remedies to enhance our response to them and discuss the extent to which our biology determines our choices.

 

6.In the light of current medical advances, could people live forever? Dr. John Ochai, Urologist, St Maryʼs Hospital, Ryde

Gen 3:19 “Dust you are and to dust you will return”

Ps 89 (90):10 “Our span is seventy years or eighty for those who are strong”

How does these square with present day life span and possibly beyond?

In Britain the life expectancy in 1900 was 47 years for men and 50 years for women. By 2015 it was 79 years for men and 83 years for women (Office of Nat Stat). This current life span though a huge advance over those in the preceeding 100 years you will agree is not very much different from that foretold in scripture despite the giant leap in medical science. Is there then an inbuilt limit on human bodily existence?

 

There has been exceptions of course. In UK in 2015 there were 14,570 centenarians https://www.ons.gov.uk. Further back in time Adam lived for 930 years (Gen 5:5), Noah 950 years (Gen 9:29), Abraham 175 years (Gen 25:7), Isaac 180 years (Gen 35:28) and Moses 120 years (Deut 34:7). Clearly these patriarchs owe their longevity not to medical science or living conditions but to Divine Providence for medicine as we know it was not practised at that time. Hippocrates (460 – 375 BC) the Father of modern Medicine was born several centuries after them. As far as I know no one has lived that long in the modern era. The oldest living men in UK in 2018. The oldest living men in the UK in 2018 are aged 110 years. The vast majority do not live beyond their 80th birthday in line with scripture.

 

But can the rapid advances in medical science and improvement in living conditions make it possible for humans to live as long as the patriarchs and dare we say even for ever?

 

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