AAAS Holiday Lecture and Discussion

The AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion and the Center for Public Engagement with Science & Technology are sponsoring an event “about the religious beliefs of scientists and the implications for dialogue between the scientific and religious communities.” Elaine Howard Ecklund, author of Science vs. Religion, will speak about her study of American scientists’ religious views, and NPR religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty will discuss media coverage of science and religion. The event will take place on December 15 at AAAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., and you can register here.

Happy 80th Birthday, John Polkinghorne

The Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne will celebrate his 80th birthday with a science and religion conference at the University of Oxford. The “God and Physics” conference will feature a lecture by Polkinghorne, as well as physicist and theologian Ian Barbour, philosopher Nancy Cartwright, and Robert Russell (founder and director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences). Other speakers include philosopher and theologian Philip Clayton, philosopher Keith Ward, and the Rev. Fraser Watts. The conference runs from July 7 through 10 (though Polkinghorne’s actual birthday is not until October).

Copenhagen Declaration on Religion in Public Life

The atheists who gathered at the “Gods & Politics” conference earlier this month in Copenhagen adopted the following Declaration on Religion in Public Life:

* We recognize the unlimited right to freedom of conscience, religion and belief, and that freedom to practice one’s religion should be limited only by the need to respect the rights of others.
* We submit that public policy should be informed by evidence and reason, not by dogma.
* We assert the need for a society based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. History has shown that the most successful societies are the most secular.
* We assert that the only equitable system of government in a democratic society is based on secularism: state neutrality in matters of religion or belief, favoring none and discriminating against none.
* We assert that private conduct, which respects the rights of others should not be the subject of legal sanction or government concern.
* We affirm the right of believers and non-believers alike to participate in public life and their right to equality of treatment in the democratic process.
* We affirm the right to freedom of expression for all, subject to limitations only as prescribed in international law – laws which all governments should respect and enforce. We reject all blasphemy laws and restrictions on the right to criticize religion or nonreligious life stances.
* We assert the principle of one law for all, with no special treatment for minority communities, and no jurisdiction for religious courts for the settlement of civil matters or family disputes.
* We reject all discrimination in employment (other than for religious leaders) and the provision of social services on the grounds of race, religion or belief, gender, class, caste or sexual orientation.
* We reject any special consideration for religion in politics and public life, and oppose charitable, tax-free status and state grants for the promotion of any religion as inimical to the interests of non-believers and those of other faiths. We oppose state funding for faith schools.
* We support the right to secular education, and assert the need for education in critical thinking and the distinction between faith and reason as a guide to knowledge, and in the diversity of religious beliefs. We support the spirit of free inquiry and the teaching of science free from religious interference, and are opposed to indoctrination, religious or otherwise.

Adopted by the conference, Copenhagen, 20 June 2010.

DoSER Looks to the Future of the S&R Dialogue

We now have an official announcement of the event that will welcome NASA astrophysicist Jennifer Wiseman as the new director of the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion. As Wiseman told us earlier this month, the panel discussion on “Re-Envisioning the Science and Religion Dialogue” will feature William Phillips, a Nobel laureate and professor of physics at the University of Maryland; Howard Smith, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; David Anderson, the founder and lead pastor at the Bridgeway Community Church in Maryland; and Rick Potts, director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian Institution.
The discussion will take place on June 16 at the AAAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., and registration is open.

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