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2001 - 2003: University of California - Santa Barbara

Science, Religion and the Human Experience


2002-2003 Lectures and Activities
2001-2002 Lectures and Activities
2000-2001 Lectures and Actvities
Project Leader
Organizing Committee/Working Group
Additional Information



Science and religion are two major forces shaping our world. How do they relate to each other? Some people think of science and religion as separate domains, of reason versus faith, facts versus values, or an emphasis on the material versus the spiritual world. Other people think of science and religion as overlapping domains, marked either by warfare arising from conflicting claims, or harmony arising from similar claims. Whether separate or overlapping, one important and often neglected similarity is the human face of science and religion: both operate in, yet seek to reach beyond, specific historical, political, ideological, and psychological contexts defining the human experience. How may we understand science and religion as arising from, yet somehow transcending, the human experience? This question underlies the three-year Templeton Research Lectures program at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Considering science and religion in the context of the human experience calls into question simple assertions of unity or disunity, but may lead to more possibilities for fruitful exchange. The challenge and potential of introducing the human experience into science-religion dialogue is analogous to the three-body problem in celestial mechanics. The relative orbits of two celestial bodies are stable; when a third body is introduced, however, the situation gets tremendously complex, and is generally unpredictable, but much more interesting. The three-body problem analogy suggests the possibility that the realities toward which science and religion point, and the forms of human experience in which they are grounded, all interrelate in complex and unpredictable ways.

Running from Spring 2001 to Spring 2003, "Science, Religion, and the Human Experience" features a series of public, web-accessible lectures by a distinguished group of scientists, religious leaders, and scholars of science and religion in an effort to redefine grounds for their constructive engagement. Related activities will include monthly faculty reading seminars and graduate and undergraduate courses. The program ultimately aims to develop a long-term research and educational focus in science and religion studies at UCSB.



2002-2003 Lectures and Activities

February 6, 2003
Experiencing Evolution: Darwinism and the Diminution of Religious Belief

Ronald Numbers, University of Wisconsin, Madison

March 6, 2003
Kabbalah and Contemporary Cosmology: Discovering the Resonances

Daniel Matt, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem

April 17, 2003
Uneasy Alliances: The Faith Factor in Medicine; the Health Factor in Religion

Anne Harrington, Harvard University

May 15, 2003
In ______ We Trust: Science, Religion, and Authority

Jim Proctor, University of California, Santa Barbara



2001-2002 Lectures and Activities

January 11, 2002
Darwin, Design and the Unification of Nature

John Hedley Brooke, Oxford University

February 7, 2002
Empathy and Human Experience
Evan Thompson, York University

February 8, 2002
Gods, Spirits and the Mental Instincts that Create Them
Pascal Boyer, Washington University in St. Louis

March 7, 2002
Darwinism and Atheism: A Marriage Made in Heaven?
Michael Ruse, Florida State University

March 8, 2002
The Origins of Science in Religion; or, Parents and Offspring Should Respect Each Other
Bruce Tiffney, UC Santa Barbara

April 11, 2002
The Complementarity of Science and Religion
Harold Oliver, Boston University

April 12, 2002
Modernity and the Mystical: Science, Technology, and the Task of Human Self-Creation
Thomas Carlson, UC Santa Barbara

May 9, 2002
The Depths and Shallows of Experience
Hilary Putnam, Harvard University

May 10, 2002
The Specific Regime of Enunciation of Religious Talk
Bruno Latour, École des Mines de Paris



2000-2001 Lectures and Activities

April 20, 2001
Reflections of a Physicist after an Encounter with the Vatican and Pope John Paul II
Walter Kohn, UC Santa Barbara

April 27, 2001
Constructing Cosmos: Science, Religion, History, and Reality
Jeffrey Burton Russell, UC Santa Barbara

May 18, 2001
Technology and Social Justice
Freeman Dyson, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

June 1, 2001
The Intersubjective Worlds of Science and Religion
Alan Wallace, UC Santa Barbara



Project Leader

James D. Proctor, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Geography, UCSB

The Program Director, James D. Proctor, serves as Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at UCSB. Dr. Proctor, who received his Ph.D. in geography from Berkeley in 1992, also holds a graduate degree in environmental science and an undergraduate honors degree in religious studies. His current research addresses the role and relative influence of science and religion in contemporary American environmentalism. Dr. Proctor has published in a wide variety of academic journals, and recently co-edited Geography and Ethics: Journeys in a Moral Terrain (1999). He serves on the editorial boards of a number of geographical and philosophical journals, including his position as Editor for the Americas of Ethics, Place, and Environment. Dr. Proctor is an accomplished musician and vocalist, and has for the past seven years served as music director for a local Unitarian Universalist congregation.



Organizing Committee/WorkingGroup

  • Richard Appelbaum (Sociology)
  • Charles Bazerman (Education)
  • Stephen Cohen (Hillel UCSB)
  • Anita Guerrini (History, Environmental Studies)
  • Walter Kohn (Physics)
  • Marc McGinnes (Environmental Studies)
  • Michael Osborne (History, Environmental Studies)
  • Lisa Parks (Film Studies)
  • Constance Penley (Film Studies)
  • Bill Powell (Religious Studies)
  • Clark Roof (Religious Studies)
  • Paul Spickard (History)
  • Bruce Tiffney (Geological Sciences)
  • John Tooby (Anthropology)
  • Alan Wallace (Religious Studies)
  • Anthony Zee (Physics)



Additional Information

"Science, Religion, and the Human Experience" Web Site


New Visions of Nature, Science, and Religion
UC Santa Barbara has developed a new project entitled "New Visions of Nature, Science, and Religion." New Visions is a novel three-year program devoted to an examination of multiple concepts of biophysical and human nature across the sciences and humanities, asking whether these concepts can somehow be resolved and considering implications for rethinking science and religion, given their grounding in particular notions of nature. See


Prof. Jim Proctor
Department of Geography
3611 Ellison Hall
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4060



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