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International Academic Conference

religion

metaphysics

science

conference

Bard 2012

Dr. Bruce Chilton, Chairman Dr. Garry Hagberg, co-Chairman   

AT BARD APRIL 2012


conference

Bard 2012 International Academic Conference

AT BARD APRIL 2012


conference

Bard 2012 International Academic Conference

AT BARD APRIL 2012


International Academic Conference

Science and Religion:

A Role for Metaphysics? Reflections flowing from David Birnbaum’s Summa Metaphysica

Discussion of the relationship between science and religion has typically proceeded on the basis of a scientific analysis of religion or a religious evaluation of science. Predictably, the cognitive lens of assessment has determined that the result will be either predominantly scientific or predominantly religious. Since the nineteenth century the study of Metaphysics has usually been pursued within the history of philosophy. Advances in several disciplines, scientific and literary, as well as historical and philosophical, appeared to preclude understanding Metaphysics as an analytic discipline. Yet as the twentieth century progressed, science offered the uncertainty principle, literature discovered hermeneutics that explained how one horizon or discourse may merge into another, history changed its key from the study of atomistic data to the unfolding of meaning, and philosophy challenged empirical constructions of reality. Works by David Birnbaum,

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International Academic Conference

conference

Bard 2012

chiefly his two volumes entitled Summa Metaphysica (1989 and 2008), suggest that Metaphysics may emerge as a critical field once again. The presentations at the conference are open, and members of the community at Bard College are warmly invited. We are especially pleased to announce that David Birnbaum will be present during discussion.

Bruce Chilton Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion

Garry Hagberg James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Aesthetics and Philosophy

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science&religion

BARD COLLEGE

In ternational Academic Conference

Summa Metaph ysica David Birnbaum

April 16 - 19, 2012 HarvardMatirx@gmail.com www.SummaM.org www.DBacademic.com

www.BARD.edu


religion

metaphysics

science

conference

Bard 2012

International week-long Academic Conference Leon Botstein

President, Bard College Conference Opening April 16, 2012

Bruce Chilton Chairman

Garry Hagberg Co-Chairman

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Jacob Neusner

Professor of the History and Theology of Judaism Bard Scholar-in-Residence 2-day “JUST WARS� conference to follow 4/23-24


conference

science

International week-long Academic Conference

religion

metaphysics

Bard 2012

Bruce Chilton Chairman

Bruce Chilton is a scholar of early Christianity and Judaism, now Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College, and formerly Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament at Yale University. He holds a degree in New Testament from Cambridge University (St. John's College). He has previously held academic positions at the Universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and M端nster. He wrote the first critical commentary on the Aramaic version of Isaiah (The Isaiah Targum, 1987), as well as academic studies that analyze Jesus in his Judaic context (A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible, 1984; The Temple of Jesus, 1992; Pure Kingdom, 1996), and explain the Bible critically (Redeeming Time: The Wisdom of Ancient Jewish and Christian Festal Calendars, 2002; The Cambridge Companion to the Bible, 2007). He founded two academic periodicals, Journal for the Study of the New Testament and The Bulletin for Biblical Research. He has also been active in the ministry of the Anglican Church, and is Rector of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Barrytown, New York. His popular books have been widely reviewed. Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography showed Jesus' development through the environments hat proved formative influences on him. Those environments, illuminated by archaeology and by historical sources, include: (1) rural Jewish Galilee, (2) the movement of John the Baptist, (3) the towns Jesus encountered as a rabbi, (4) the political strategy of Herod Antipas, and (5) deep controversy concerning the Temple in Jerusalem.

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conference

Bard 2012


International Academic Conference

Monday, 16 April Faculty Dining Room of Kline Commons

5:00

Opening Reception

5:45

Introduction: Dr James Brudvig

6:00

Bruce Chilton, “Metaphysics, the New Gnosticism, and Scientific Dialogue”

7:00

Dinner

Tuesday, 17 April Auditorium of the Olin Building

9:30

10:30

Bernhard Lang, “A Mixed Blessing The First Human Sin as a Fortunate and a Tragic Event in German and French Philosophical Thought” Coffee in the Olin Atrium

11:00

Lawrence Schiffman, “Jewish Metaphysics: Past, Present and Future”

12:00

Lunch, Kline Commons

1:30

Gheorghe Popa, “L’ETRE,existence et orientation spirituelle dans la metaphisique theologique. Aspects relevants pour le dialogue entre Religion et Science”

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International Academic Conference

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Bard 2012

Excursion to the gravesite of Teilhard de Chardin, with a presentation by Garry Hagberg and concluding discussion at the Culinary Institute of America.

Wednesday, 18 April in the Auditorium of the Olin Building

9:30

10:30

Marcelo Gleiser, “The Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable: Science, Religion, and our Knowledge of the World” Coffee, Olin Atrium

11:00

Peter Atkins , “Nothing”

12:00

Lunch

1:30

Donald Goldsmith, “A [Naïve] Scientist Ponders Metaphysics, Science, and Religion” Tammy Nyden, “How Theology in SeventeenthCentury Leiden Influenced the Acceptance and Spread of Experimental Physics” Tea in the Olin Atrium

2:30

3:30 4:00 5:30

“Panel Discussion” with David Birnbaum and all participants Dinner, Finberg House

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International Academic Conference

Thursday, 19 April

Abstracts Peter Atkins Nothing The most profound question of metaphysics where there is a glimmer of expectation that science can contribute to its elucidation is the conversion of absolutely nothing to apparently something. I explore this question. It is, of course, essential to distinguish absolutely nothing from mere empty space. I address the question of the nature of nothing and the possibility that nothing (like any nothing) has potential. Although it might seem absurd to ascribe potential to nothing, I point out that there are hints available from current science of ways forward and sketch a scenario in which nothing becomes apparently something without intervention. I pay attention, too, to that qualifier ‘apparently’. My intention, while accepting that my speculations are only that and will, when the question is truly resolved (by science, the only way forward), be regarded as naïve nonsense, is to show that science need not be silent when discussing this profound question and is capable of elucidating the nature of absolutely nothing at all.

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International Academic Conference

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Bard 2012

Bernhard Lang The Fall of Man in Paradise as a Fortunate Event The book of Genesis tells the story of the first human sin. In Christian tradition, this story gave rise to the notion of original sin – a sin whose consequences have affected all generations of humankind. The first human couple lost its original perfection, and all subsequent generations have suffered from the result of the Fall. This negative view of human origins was revised by early-modern western thinkers such as Herder and Kant. In Friedrich Schiller’s lecture “Some Thoughts on the First Human Society” (1789), the novel idea of the Fall of man in paradise as a fortunate event found its clearest expression. The present paper sketches this new view and explains how it was made possible by three antecedent notions: the traditional Christian idea of felix culpa (paradisal sin as a “happy fault”), the marginalization of original sin in the context of Leibniz’s idea of our world as the best of possible worlds (God would not create an imperfect world), and the idea of progress from primitive origins to ever greater perfection in human culture and religion (Lessing). While the bold re-interpretation of the Fall never became part of any official version of Christianity, it is part of Jewish philosophy, including the philosophy of David Birnbaum, in which it serves as an argument in defense of free will.

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International Academic Conference

Tammy Nyden How Theology in Seventeenth-Century Leiden Influenced the Acceptance and Spread of Experimental Physics The seventeenth century witnessed the shift from Aristotelian natural philosophy to the New Science, beginning with Cartesianism and culminating in the physics of Newton. This shift is often taken to be when science was divorced from metaphysics and theology and empirical methodologies replaced first principles as the foundation of science. The University of Leiden played a key role in the acceptance and spread of experimental physics. A close look at the work of the Leiden physics professors involved in this transition reveals that a key part of the acceptance of the experimental approach and academic policies that supported it were metaphysical and theological in nature. This paper will discuss three specific ways religious and / or metaphysical views influenced this key conduit to the so-called ‘scientific revolution’: 1) how an attempt to quell religious divisions were behind the justification for the construction of the first university physics laboratory and teaching theatre; 2) how the concept of moral certainty, borrowed from theological traditions, was used to epistemologically justify

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International Academic Conference

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Bard 2012

the use of the new experimental method as true science and 3) how the rejection of Cartesian physics in favor of Newton’s physics was justified, in part, on the basis of metaphysical and theological commitments.

• In addition, there is to be a submitted paper from Stefan Afloroaei

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Bruce Chilton - is a scholar of early Christianity and Judaism, now Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College, and formerly Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament at Yale University. He holds a degree in New Testament from Cambridge University (St. John’s College). He has previously held academic positions at the Universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and Münster.

Garry L. Hagberg - is an author, professor, philosopher, and jazz musician. He currently holds a chair in philosophy at the University of East Anglia. Hagberg became a professor of philosophyphy at Bard College in 1990, and subsequently the James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetics. The chair was endowed during his time at Bard. He has been the recipient of many fellowships and grants from Dartmouth College; Cambridge University Library; Institute for the Theory and Criticism of the Visual Arts; British Library, London; St. John’s College, and Cambridge University.

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conference

Bard 2012

Bernhard Lang - a German Catholic theologian. Long since 1985 professor of the Old Testament at the University of Paderborn. He became Doctor of Divinity in 1975 at the University of T端bingen. In 1977, he habilitated at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau. From 1977 to 1982 he was professor in T端bingen and from 1982 to 1985 Professor at the University of Mainz. Since 1985 he is professor at the University of Paderborn. Visiting professor in 1982 were long in Philadelphia, in 1991 at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, 1992/1993 at the Sorbonne, 1999/2000 at the University of St. Andrews. Since 2008 he is Honorary Doctor of the University of Aarhus in Denmark.

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Lawrence H. Schiffman - was appointed as the Vice-Provost of Undergraduate Education at Yeshiva University and Professor of Jewish Studies in early 2011. He had been the Chair of New York University’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and serves as the Ethel and Irvin A. Edelman Professor in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University (NYU). He is a specialist in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Judaism in Late Antiquity, the history of Jewish law, and Talmudic literature. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University.

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conference

Bard 2012

Gheorghe Popa - a Vice-Rector for research of “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, Iasi, Romania. Coordinator, on behalf of the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi, of the European research network PECO - 08469 for the years 1993 - 1995, entitled “Fundamental studies of discharge in view of their technological applications”. Romanian coordinator of the Programme COPERNICUS - ERB 3512 PL 561 (COP 1561) for the period 1995 – 1998. Responsible from Romanian side within the “Brancusi” program of cooperation between “Al.I.Cuza” University of Iasi, Romania and University Paris – sud, Orsay, France (2003-2004 and 2007-2008)

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Marcelo Gleiser (born in Rio de Janeiro) is a Brazilian physicist and astronomer. Marcelo Gleiser is the Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College. He graduated from the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and obtained his Ph.D. from King’s College London in 1986. After postdoctoral appointments at Fermilab and The Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, he joined the faculty at Dartmouth College in 1991. In 1994, he received the Presidential Faculty Fellows Award (PFF) from the White House and NSF. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Author of over 100 peer-reviewed articles, Gleiser is a world-renowned cosmologist. His research focuses on the physics of the early universe, the emergence of complexity and the origin of life. Gleiser is also the author of three books exploring the religious and cultural roots of science. His latest, A Tear at the Edge of Creation: A radical new vision for life in an imperfect universe (Free Press 2010) was published in 12 languages. He is also a frequent presence in science documentaries in the US and abroad and the co-founder of the National Public Radio blog 13.7 on science and culture.

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Bard 2012

Peter William Atkins - is a British chemist and former Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Lincoln College. He is a prolific writer of popular chemistry textbooks, including Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, and Molecular Quantum Mechanics. Atkins is also the author of a number of science books for the general public, including Atkins’ Molecules and Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science. He was a member of the Council of the Royal Institution and the Royal Society of Chemistry. He was the founding chairman of IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Education, and is a trustee of a variety of charities. Atkins has lectured in quantum mechanics, quantum chemistry, and thermodynamics courses (up to graduate level) at the University of Oxford. He is a patron of the Oxford University Scientific Society.

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Donald Goldsmith - was the science editor and co-writer of the PBS television series The Astronomers and the co-writer of NOVA’s Is Anybody Out There? with Lily Tomlin. He has written and edited 15 books on astronomy, including The Runaway Universe, Worlds Unnumbered, Supernova!, and The Hunt for Life on Mars. Donald Goldsmith received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley, and has taught astronomy courses there and at other institutions, including Stanford University, Cornell University, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. He has received the lifetime achievement award in popularizing astronomy from the American Astronomical Society, the science writing award from the American Institute of Physics, and the Dorothea Klumpke-Roberts award for increasing public awareness of astronomy from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

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Bard 2012

Tammy Nyden Areas of Special Competence: Metaphysics and epistemology in the history of science and philosophy, especially in the 17th century. The Dutch Enlightenment, especially Spinoza and the reception of Cartesianism. The History and Philosophy of Science Other Academic Interests: Asian Philosophies (particularly Buddhist and Daoist Philosophies and interactions between 17th century European and Chinese philosophical traditions) Education / Degrees: • Ph.D. in Philosophy, Claremont Graduate University, 2003 • M.A. in Philosophy, Baylor University, 1995 • B.A. in Philosophy, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 1993

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We wish to express our thanks to Dr Leon Botstein, president of Bard, who was originally scheduled to open-theconference. As noted on the program. Dr. James Brudvig, VP and Trustee of Bard, substituted-in for him..

We thank Dr. Botstein and Dr. Brudvig for their unflagging support for the Conference 2011-2012.

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Bard 2012

AT BARD APRIL 2012


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Bard 2012

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