Key speakers topics and abstracts

Gholamreza Aawani
Is there a Clash between Science and Religion?

In order to recognize the connection between two different disciplines such as science and religion , it is essential to pose and answer some preliminary questions which might facilitate the finding of a solution for the problem. What are the subject -matters of the respective disciplines in question ? How are they connected with and related to each other? What are the principles or the starting points (axioms, postulates) of those two disciplines. How are these respective problems related to each other? What are the methodologies employed in those two disciplines? This no doubt requires a discussion in epistemology which is adequate to the two disciplines without being unjust to the one or to the other and without trying to reduce the one to the other.
In my article, taking benefit from a deeper epistemology adopted by some ancient, including many Muslim philosophers, I try to make an epistemological reconciliation between science and religion provided that religion is understood, not from a dogmatic , but from a sapiential point of view.

G. Ali Afrooz, PhD
Psychological Analysis of Ideal and Well-Developed Personality in View of Quranic Values
Distinguished Professor, University of Tehran

Broadly speaking, the Holy Quran as the most sublime heavenly message is a book of human life. Since, the Life Creator, the sender of this holy book, is the Creator of human body and mind. Human mental activity starts from about 16 weeks of fetal life with the blow of divine spirit into the fetus. At this point, we observe the beginning of mental and psychological activities and the emergence of first motor movement of the fetus. In fact, this is the beginning of human psychological growth and development. Part of the psychological state of children and adolescents is under the influence of psychological conditions prevailing during the period of fetal development.
From the viewpoint of the Holy Quran, the formation of human personality is defined and mapped as a pure family tree, a stable tree full of branchesand blossoms. The pivotal foundations of this balanced, and transcendent tree is secured on Fitrah (primordial human nature or innate nature), rationality, morality and spirituality, and therefore, is universal. One of the main processes of the human fitrah) is to find the secrets of the universe and seeking God, because all humans are created curious and explorer, and curiosity is the basis of god-seeking and the essence of mental creativity. This is why from the viewpoint of the Holy Quran, reflecting on the natural phenomena is considered as a sign of a developed human being and preoccupation with personal status is considered obscene and indecent. In fact, the god-seeking innate nature of humans establishes their truth-seeking and truth-endorsingideas and provides them with an insight that helps them take the path of truth forever.
Divine fitrah or innate nature is the direction-finder of human personality perfection, and man can shed light on his path using this direction-finder in addition to his own reason and faith. So, one of the main components of developed human personality from the Holy Quran’s viewpoint is being intuitive and wise. Insight and sincerity of the heart provides the basis for growth, prosperity and perfection of human character.
The rule of rationality on human though, speech and behavior, from the Holy Quran’s viewpoint, is another significant component of the desired personalityof a well-developed human. Well-developed and Quran-loving human beings are accustomed to reflection, thinking, reasoning and truth. Therefore, from Quran’s viewpoint, foolishness, ignorance and intellectual obstinacy is considered as one of the enemiesof the proper development of the human personality. Developed human beings in Quran’s viewpoint, always plan with insight and thinking in their personal and social life, and act with piousness, freedom and rationality.
In fact, in a sense, religiousness and reasoning or faith and rationality, are always adjacent and are like two wings to fly with. The reason and religion are so much fused into each other that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says:” “: The religion is the same as the wisdom and the wisdom is the same as the religion, religion is the external wisdom and the wisdom is the internal religion.
In Quran’s viewpoint, internalizing moral and spiritual perfection is other main component of the personality of developed human beings. The Holy Quran in many chapters (Suras) and verses (Ayats) beautifully describes the the moral, spiritual and behavioral characteristics of developed human beings. From among these features are: developed humans are truthful or honest, they have unity of character, between their thought and word and deed a glorious unity prevails (they are not accustomed to hypocrisy and duplicity), these people are loyal, faithful, committed, and trusted by others.
People who have developed characters based on Quran’s values, who posses high-quality personal health, never move away from the path of purity and chastity and do not fall into the abyss of sensual and sexual deviation.People who have Quranic developed characters, are theist, resurrection-sighted,calm-hearted, cordial, hopeful and hope-giving, beneficent, positive-thinking, , patient, effortful, and believing. People who posses Quranic developed characters, have the highest mental health and well-being, and are always humble, modest, contented, forgiving, generous and open-handed , and accustomed to praying and mysterious dialogue with their Creator. And finally, the dignity of the soul, spirituality, patience and empathy, forgiveness and sacrifice .People-orientedness is the other components of Quranic developed characters which will be covered in detail in the full paper with mentioning the documentations from the Holy Quran.

Klaus Boehnke
The Intergenerational Transmission of Religiosity in the Context of Values and Social Axioms
Jacobs University Bremen, Germany

The lecture addresses the question to what degree levels of religiosity (be they high or low) are transmitted between generations in families. Religiosity is understood, here, as pertaining to the degree to which people have religious values as guiding principles in their lives, and to which degree they believe in the existence of one (or more) supreme being(s). In more general terms the lecture, thus, focuses on the intergenerational transmission of values and of social axioms. In the history of psychology, values and social axioms can be traced back to a common root, early 20th century German humanistic psychology, dealing with Weltanschauung. In this context values constitute the ‘ought’-component of an individual’s world view, social axioms the perceived ‘is,’i.e., images of the human being and its relation to the world. To study how values and social axioms are acquired by individuals is a complex endeavor. A general societal and cultural influence has to be assumed as well as an influence of family upbringing. Even genes may play a role. The lecture reviews literature on the intergenerational transmission of values and social axioms, focusing on the concepts of Schwartz (values) and Leung and Bond (social axioms). It will be shown, how the societal/cultural context of a family affects transmission. The conclusion will be offered that ‘success’ in the intergenerational transmission of values and social axioms depends both on the precise cultural context and on the intrafamilial communication style of a family: Particularly for values and social axioms that are not highly cherished in a given culture intergenerational similarity seemingly is highest, transmitted most intensely in families that do not strongly adhere to the Zeitgeist. As for religiosity, it can be observed that tradition values (as defined by Schwartz) and the social axiom ‘religiosity’ seem to be among the world views that exhibit more intergenerational similarity than is found for other values and social axioms.

Univ.-Doz. Dr. med. Dr. scient. Raphael M. Bonelli
Sigmund Freud University,Vienna, Austria

Religion/spirituality has been increasinglyexamined in medical research during the past two decades. Despite theincreasing number of published studies, a systematic evidence-based review ofthe available data in the field of psychiatry has not been done during the last25 years. The literature was searched using PubMed (1990-2015). We examinedoriginal research on religion, religiosity, spirituality, and related termspublished in the top 25 % of psychiatry and neurology journals according to theISI journals citation index. The findings will be presented in the talk. Thereis good evidence that religious involvement is correlated with better mentalhealth in the areas of depression, substance abuse, and suicide; some evidencein stress-related disorders and dementia; insufficient evidence in bipolardisorder and schizophrenia, and no data in many other mental disorders.

Philip Clayton
Science and Religion in a World of Religious Pluralism

Two things are clear about religion in our day. On the one hand, predictions of secularists notwithstanding, religion is not “withering away”; globally it is expanding faster than ever. On the other, religious language is often used to promote dogmatism, violence, even terrorism.
Studies show that extremism in a religious community is inversely correlated with the degree of its engagement with science. This keynote will cover the new field of “science and comparative religious studies,” which promotes science-religion discussions within each major tradition. We will consider the diverse ways that the various religions are grappling with scientific methods and results and will seek to explain these differences. We also explore common features that arise across multiple traditions.
What concrete steps can be taken to foster a deeper appreciation of science within each of the world’s traditions? It’s encouraging to observe how ancient religious traditions are being transformed as they become allies rather than enemies of scientific progress. Conversely, the ancient wisdom traditions can contribute rich frameworks of value and motivations to compassionate action. Such altruism will be necessary if humans are to overcome nationalism and ethnocentrism and respond in time to the global climate crisis, the first truly global threat to life on this planet.

Elaine Howard Ecklund, Prof.
Subjective Science and Rigid Religion
Rice University, Houston, TX, USA

The relationship between science and religion has once again become a contentious topic in the United States. But how much do we really know about scientists’ religious views, and how scientists in different national contexts compare with one another? How do the religious views of scientists in particular national contexts shape their practice, dissemination, and interpretation of science? And how does their scientific practice shape their religious interpretation and understanding? Through a 20,000 scientist survey and interviews with 600, Ecklund will examine the religious views of biologists and physicists from eight different nations. Ecklund will specifically explore how scientists in these different national contexts define science and religion as well as the relationship between the two and how religion relates to their research agendas, daily interactions with students, and ethical decisions and discussions. Initial findings show the legitimacy of science is maintained through boundary work with religion. And religion actually gains legitimacy from the tight boundaries maintained. When it violates this tight boundary by making claims that conflict with science, particularly in the form of creationist claims, scientists consider religion illegitimate and irrational. Yet, when religion is seen as adaptable to science, flexible rather than dogmatic, scientists believe religion may be beneficial.

Sayyed Mohsen Fatemi
The psychological ontology of the numinous

Religious experience is ontologically embedded within a paradigm that moves beyond the linear and analytical perspective within the mainstream psychology. The numinous calls for a recondite excavation of its underlying psychological configuration and its emotional, cognitive and behavioral implications. To logical positivism, the numinous might sound like a figment of imagination but in spiritual psychology it espouses roots and relations that may be not apprehended within the rampant discursive psychological analyses.
This keynote speech provides an in-depth understanding of the psychology of the numinous and explicates its foundational components. Along with a view on the practical health related implications of the religious experience and its sundry manifestations, the talk will elucidate how understanding the independent language and independent realm of the numinous may give rise to a novel understanding of psychology in general and religious psychology in particular.

Abdolrahim Gavahi
Mutual cooperation between religion and science
President World Religions Research Center

1. The topic of “Science and Religion”, “physics and metaphysics”, “matter and spirit”, or any other name you may call it, is both a very old and ancient topic and, at the same time, a rather new one, well stretching from Aristotle and Plato to the present time.
Perhaps one reason for the newness of the subject and its recent upcoming is the astounding progress in new sciences such as Nano, Bio, Info and Cognitive fields.

2. The undersigned, in the capacity of an expert and lecturer both in exact sciences and religion (holding a B.S. in petroleum engineering, MBA, and a Ph. D. in comparative religious studies) am amongst those who may be qualified to talk about both science and religion. Although, in recent years, I have been more engaged in soci-political and religio-philosophical matters than purely scientific ones.

3. My overall approach towards the relation between science and religion, following that of my late religious master Allamah Mohammad Taghi Ja’fari, is “Mutual cooperation between religion and science”.
Outside Iran and the Islamic tradition, I am more in line with the thoughts of the French Philosophers and sages Henry Corbin & Jean Guitton, English celebrities Alfred North Whitehead and Mary Midglay, German Orientalist and Islamologist Anne Marrie Schimmel and theosophist Frithjof Chouan, from all of whom I have translated books into Persian or Farsi language.

4. In this article we have tried to show that both science and religion are important and beneficial tools in man’s material and spiritual advancement, satisfaction, elevation and salvation.
But what seems to be undefendable and hence unacceptable to the Eastern (Muslim) mind is a kind of science which is totally disconnected from, and devoid of, revelation and divine truth, which has caused more damage to mankind than benefiting him (for details see “Eight sins of civilized man” by Austrian scholar Konrad Lorenz, “the Metaphysical Foundation of Modern Science” by Edwin Arthur Burtt, and also “Science as Salvation” by Mary Midglay).

5. Since we Muslims, and in fact all monotheists in Abrahamic religions, believes that our religion is revealed by God through prophet Muhammad, the Almighty God our supreme Lord and Creator, the creator of the material as well as spiritual world(s), and, on the other hand, intellect, wisdom, and science are bestowed by the same God to man, therefore, conceptually, no scientific and or intellectual product of the man’s mind can not and should not be in apparent opposition to the supreme God’s divine teachings or commandments. Yet, where do we find such a “science” or “scientific experience” which surpasses all boundaries of uncertainty and achieves the eternal truth?

Nevertheless, such a firm and unchangeable knowledge, if ever attained, will open up its place amongst man’s permanent truths and realities. But to give only one example on how much far we are from such an undisputable scientific achievement, just note what happened to the Newtonian mechanics upon the advent of Quantum theory and Einstein’s relativity.

6. Finally, at the end of the article, it will be concluded that those who hold a relation other than mutual support and cooperation between “science” and “religion” have not, in our opinion, well understood neither the true meaning of religion and its intellectual capacity nor the nature and very many limitations of science and scientific achievements.

William Grassie
Is Our God Big Enough for Big History? Reimagining Religion in an Age of Science

Big History is the unified scientific narrative of the 13.8 billion-year old universe, the 4.5 billion-year evolution of our planet, the 7 million-year rise of our species, and the 10,000-year accelerating drama of human civilization.Big History includes the new natural history of humanity, a scientific and historical narrative that challenges traditional creation myths and superstitions. Evolutionary psychology and the cognitive neurosciences further give us a new and potentially therapeutic understanding of our evolved and conflicted human natures. Our common origin story transcends all of our ethnic, linguistic, religious, and ideological differences. Every time we log on to the Internet or pump 200 million-year-old fossil fuels into our cars, we affirm this story in deed, if not in thought or understanding.Religionists around the world now need to ask themselves— from the Plank-scale to background radiation of the early universe, across billions of galaxies and light-years, from the nano-scale molecular machines inside each cell to the informational universe of the Internet — Is our God big enough for Big History?

Niels Henrik Gregersen
Living in an informational universe: Naturalist and Religious Approaches
University of Copenhagen

Metaphysical Naturalism is traditionally built on the two-fold pillars of a strict materialism and on a strong view of laws of nature as the cement of the universe. The paper discusses to what extent a classic naturalistic metaphysics needs revision from the perspective of an informational universe, in which pattern formation and relational properties is viewed as co-constitutive with mass and energy. The paper presents a view of five steps in the evolution of information (quantum, chemical, biological, consciousness, and social formations), based on the book Information and the Nature of Reality (Cambridge Canto Classic 2014). On this background it is discussed, how naturalist approaches to reality may continue to differ from religious approaches, and vice versa, even though they refer to much of the same natural phenomena. The distinction is one of ultimate explanation, a question of different descriptions of reality, but also a question of different ways of living in an informational universe.

Noreen Herzfeld

Recent books byboth computer scientists (Kurzweil, Moravic, Brooks) and philosophers (Dennett,Harris) have posited a model of human consciousness based on digitaltechnology.  In these models it is suggested that the mind functions inmuch the same way as a computer, and that it, and hence the self, could be bothreproduced digitally through artificial intelligence, and/or downloaded to asilicon based platform, thus granting a way to live on after the body’sdeath.

Thisunderstanding of the self follows two patterns we have seen before: 1)using the most current technology as a metaphor for the human being and 2) aCartesian dualism that separates mind from body, locating the self wholly inthe mind.

I will contrastthis view with one that is traditionally Christian, that humans are created andbest understood as being in the image of God. This image has been interpreted by theologians variously, but can begenerally understood in one of three ways, found in our rational intellect, ourembodied agency, or our relationships.  These three understandings of theimage of God together capture the complexity of our nature.  Our sense of self is incomplete without allthree.  We are neither just a mind norjust a body, but a mind that is both part and product of our human body, and abody which exists embedded within the larger environment of human culture.

It is primarilythrough our bodies that we have agency, the second interpretation of the imageof God in humanity which sees us as God’s stewards in the world (vonRad).  But our bodies confer more than the ability to act.  They also provide the locus forrelationship.  The bodily nature of truerelationship is captured in the Christian doctrine of the incarnation, whichposits a God who shares our physicality, and in doing so, sanctifies the body’sfallibility and mortality–precisely that which the new dualists hope toescape.

I will examinehow much of our knowledge, functioning, and self-understanding is shaped by thespecifics of our bodies and their evolutionary background (Noe,Pinker). Without a body we cannot have true emotion and without emotion we cannot havehuman-like intelligence (Damasio).

I will thenconsider the current state of robotics and artificial intelligence, noting howneither has so far been carried out in a way that allows them full embodimentnor natural evolution, and how this limits their utility in both the naturaland human environment.  My conclusion isthat the transhumanist dreams of scientists such as Kurzweil fail to capturethe full nature of what it means to be human and are simply illusory hopes fora form of immortality that does not require the action of a supernatural being.

Prof. Dr. Wentzel van Huyssteen
From Morality to Religion? An Interactionist View of Human Personhood.
University of Stellenbosch

In this paper I want to ask whether human evolution as such, within the broader context of evolutionary anthropology, might provide us with important metaphysical bridge theories to theological anthropology and thus to a positive and constructive way of appropriating Darwinian thought for Christian theology. This becomes especially important in the light of the fact that scientists are expanding on Darwin’s theory and present us today with more recent, emerging theories which are embracing constructive, interactionist views that go beyond genetic influences to include epigenetic and behavioral forms of inheritance, and also the influence of symbolic forms of inheritance.From a more philosophical point of view I am asking whether Darwin’s perspective on human evolution can help us move forward to more constructive, holistic, notions of self and personhood. I will presuppose in this paper what I have argued elsewhere, which is that in the history of hominid evolution we find surprising answers to the enduring question of what it means to be a self, a human person. In fact, what we now know about key aspects of hominid evolution affirms what Darwin argued for as crucial aspects of humanness. To this end I would have wanted, ideally, to consider the problem of human evolution, and its broader impact on theological anthropology, by tracking a number of challenging contemporary proposals for the evolution of crucially important aspects of human personhood that were all of great significance for Darwin: the evolution of sexuality, the evolution of cognition, imagination, music and language, the evolution of morality, and the religious disposition. However, because of time constraints I will presuppose here that the evolution of these crucial aspects of human personhood ultimately converge on the evolution of the human self, and quite specifically on the evolution of the moral and the religious senses.

The strong interdisciplinary convergence between theology and the sciences on the question, ‘what it means to be human,’ presupposes arguments from both evolutionary anthropology and paleoanthropology, not only for the presence of religious awareness in our earliest prehistoric ancestors, but also for the plausibility of the larger argument: since the very beginning of the emergence of Homo sapiens, the evolution of those characteristics that made humans distinctively different from even their closest sister species, i.e., characteristics like consciousness, language, imagination, and symbolic minds and behavior, most probably always included some form of religious awareness and religious behavior. Presupposed in this argument, however, is the remarkable degree of adaptability and the versatility of our species. Homo sapiens indeed emerged as a result of its ancestral lineage having persisted and changed in the face of dramatic environmental variability, and having coped so successfully with interactive niche construction.

Against this background, any theological appropriation of themes from current evolutionary anthropology should start with an interdisciplinary conversation with the sciences and philosophy on what we are learning today about the evolution ofmorality and of religion. Both methodologically and substantially these seem to be the necessary building blocks for revealing first, anevolutionary link between anthropology and ethics, and second, a theological link between anthropology and ethics. My final argument will unfold by asking two key questions: first, what do we learn from evolutionary history about the evolution of morality and moral awareness in humans? and second, what do we learn from evolutionary history about the way we construct our moral codes and our ethical systems?

Dr. Christopher Colson Knight
An Eastern Orthodox Christian Critique of the Science-Theology Dialogue

The mainstream science-theology dialogue of the last few decades has been dominated by Western Christian understandings. It has also been strongly affected by two factors: a particular understanding of “critical realism” being applicable to the languages of science and theology, and an understanding of divine action based on the notion of some kind of causal joint that allows God to act without suspending the laws of nature. These views are susceptible to both a philosophical critique and – from the perspective of Eastern Orthodox Christianity – a theological one. These critiques are outlined in this paper. A more nuanced understanding of realism is advocated, and a view of divine action based on the notion of the divine Logos (also found in strands of the Islamic tradition) is urged. The ways in which these understandings may be seen as consonant with a scientific world-view are explored.

Ayatollah S.M. Mohaghegh Damad
Knowledge in the Islamic perspective

Cognition is one of the human’s features, and only humans have worldview.
The worldview implying the interpretation and justification of the world can be classified into three types: scientific, philosophical and religious.
Owing to its limitations, the scientific view cannot be responsive to the critical issues of world and is devoid of theoretical and spiritual value. It only possesses practical and technical aspects. The philosophical worldview is based on a series of principles.
The religions worldview is similar to philosophical worldview; their only difference is in their origin. Religion relates its origin to divine revelation, whereas philosophy refers its origin to analogy, reasoning and rationalism.
The Islamic worldview is monotheistic. In the Islamic philosophy, the order of the universe is based on the good and the promotion of the creatures to the highest point of development. The large chain of the world of being originates from the God, and all the rest are created by Him. The universe is the symbol and shadow of the omniscient and omnipotent God. The world represents the God and His characteristics. Hence, the world is alive, powerful and conscious.
Regarding the above comment, The Muslim scholar does not consider the order of the universe as mechanical, instead s/he regards it as organic.
All the elements are thoroughly connected to each other and have predetermined relationships.

Nancey Murphy
The Role of Christian Theology in the Conception of Modern Science

One of the most significant points of intersection between Christianity and science in the modern and contemporary West has been the relation between the concepts of divine action and of the laws of nature. Early modern natural philosophers promoted the concept of exceptionless laws, in part, for theological reasons, and then that legal-mechanical worldview was used for apologetic purposes. Yet the consequence, ironically, was that it became difficult to conceive of any special divine actions, which many judge to be essential for making sense of Christian practice and theology.
In this lecture I provide, first, a brief digest of this history, with a few references to parallels and contrasts in Muslim thought. I then describe two movements in current philosophy of science that are calling the notion of universal laws of nature into question, and that may help to resolve the problem of special divine action.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Alfred Pritz
Science and/or Religion  
Rector Sigmund Freud University

Over hundreds of years the relationship between religion and science was under fire of different political interests. Under the premises of “progress”against “stability” we see a controversial debate until today.
The term “science” as well as the term “religion” is a chiffre of many different approaches for the explanation of our nature and the world itself. It is a question of believe
in various sectors of knowledge,more secure,less secure.
History of the different disciplines can help us to understand the current life situation.

Kurt Anders Richardson, DTh
Complementarity in Scientific Naturalism and Divine Hiddenness
Professor in the Faculty of Theology, McMaster University
Adjunct Professor of Theology, Trinity College, University of Toronto

Philosophy of Religion with a view to the scientific modeling of cosmology can benefit from taking the principle of divine hiddenness with greater seriousness. The late modern redefining of “evidence” with regard to the divine as in some sense “known by some” provides a benefit derived from the nevertheless revealed knowledge of utter human ignorance regarding the divine in se. If religion points to the divinity that is always more removed from the contingencies of the material world that involved in them, this could provide a significant point of convergence with naturalistic cosmological models. The history science more or less requires naturalistic models based upon heuristics of disciplinary focus and specialization. In meta-levels of reasoning and modeling, this apophatic hermeneutic of divine hiddenness, consistent with classical accounts of divine / human referentiality, the approach pursued here could prove quite fruitful.

Michael Ruse
Can Science and Religion live together harmoniously?

The New Atheists are strident in all of their claims and simply go over the top at the thought that science and religion could co-exist even at a distance. Obviously in respects they are right — if you accept modern geology, you must reject Noah’s Flood; if you accept modern physics, the sun could not have stood still for Joshua; and if you accept modern paleoanthropology (the study of the evolution of humankind), you must reject the Augustinian take on original sin. Nevertheless there is much in religion — the Christian religion that is not touched by science. This includes claims about creation, about morality, about the mind, and about the future. I show that the key to showing this lies first in grasping the essentially metaphorical nature of science.

Hadi Samadi
Religion as an adaptation and a by-product

There are two main categories of explanation of religion in the current evolutionary research program. The first one sees evolution as an adaptation; ‘religion has been evolved as an adaptation to have the function F to solve the design problem P’. The main strategy in this camp is finding a proper substitute for the placeholders F and P. In one explanation, religion has been considered as a source of comfort. So, the defenders of this explanation see the distress of human as the problem that natural selection has solved it by the comforting function of religion. Another explanation sees religion as something that brings a community together. The other considers religion as a source of ethics, etc.
On the other camp, the practitioners do not find these explanations convincing. They either offer counterexample for these explanations, or offer some other persuasive causes for these phenomena than religion. The defenders of the other explanation, spandrel explanation, consider religion as a by-product. They try to find a more basic adaptation that religion has been emerged as a side-effect of it. The main candidates for the main adoptions are agent detection modules or, hyperactive agency detection device, hazard-precaution system, etc.
The main problem with two mentioned explanations is that both camps see religion as a simple human trait. However, religion is a multifaceted phenomenon and so it needs a multilayered explanation. Religion has many aspects: religious experience, religious beliefs, religious behaviors, religious institutes, religious norms, etc. (Willem Drees categorizes these aspects in three categories of characters: cognitive, experience, and tradition.)
Even though these aspects have complex impacts upon each other, presently, they have been considered separately. Evolutionary epistemologists’ works on knowledge, evolutionary psychologists’ works on beliefs and experiences, evolutionary anthropologists and sociologists’ works on norms, practices, and institutions could be gathered in a comprehensive evolutionary research program of religion. We may find that in explaining some aspects of religion the adaptationst approach is superior to the spandrel explanation, while in explaining the other aspects non-adaptationist explanations are better. And since these aspects have multifaceted impacts upon each other, we could consider religion as an adaptation and a by-product.

Christopher Southgate
Science, theology and the imago Dei

The science of human evolution poses important challenges for the theology of human identity. In particular, current scientific models make it very difficult for theologians to hold that the image and likeness of God appeared all at once. Even if human evolution contained periods of rapid change, there can have been no ‘blue touch-paper moment’. The paper explores how the imago Dei may be conceived within a gradualist model, emphasising the themes of response to divine love and divine longing.

Anderson Thomson
University of Virginia

President Obama could hold a press conference and say, “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to announce that scientists, including many of ours, have unraveled the mystery of why human minds manufacture gods and believe in them. Some of the crucial neuroimaging work was even done at our National Institutes of Health. We and our fellow citizens of the world can now be who we are, seven billion humans descended from a small group of hunter gatherers who lived in Africa seven hundred centuries ago.” Few people realize that cognitive neuroscience has mapped out how and why human minds produce, accept and spread religious beliefs. This knowledge is available, accessible, and should be a required part of a 21st century education. This presentation will review a few of the basic mechanisms human minds use to generate and sustain religious beliefs as well as the neurobiology of the rituals that reinforce them. There is a massive, irreconcilable conflict between science and religion. Religion was humanity’s original cosmology, biology and anthropology. It provided explanations for the origin of the world, life and humans. Science now gives us increasingly complete explanations for those big three. And, science now gives us the anatomy of religious belief.

Dr. Michael Utsch
Exclusion or integration of spiritual interventions in psychotherapy? A Controversal discussion in German speaking countries.
Marburg Institute for Religion and Psychotherapy

Is it possible to integrate spiritual interventions within strict limitations of public health psychotherapy? This crucial question has led to controversial discussions in Europa. For all Psychotherapists in Austria, in summer 2014 a guideline from the government of health in Vienna has forbidden any “esoteric, spiritual or religious methods” to protect the specific therapeutic relationship. The lecture gives an overview of the ongoing debate, compares the pros and cons of both sides and votes for anethical reflected integration focusing on the clients world view and personal belief system.

Friedrich Wallner
The cultural dependency of Science and Religion Interconnections and principal differences : With examples from Christianity, Islam and Buddhism

Sciences and religions are standardizations of implicit cultural convictions .
Both have presuppositions, which are usually not discussed.
Such discussion can enrich a science, but usually destroys a religious belief.
Because the cultural background has different functions:
In the case of science it can offer new resources for the methodology and -especially-
for its self understanding and space for its applications. (examples from the Chinese and the Western medicine.
In the case of religion it reduces the possibilities of mystical reasoning.
Science reveals relations legitimated by arguments and teachable by methods of learning.
In case of religion emotional backgrounds create fictions, which are legitimated by authorities and teachable under the support of belief. I do not want to be misunderstood in the way of logical or psychological dissolutions of religious contents : They are invalid, as a supracultural approach to reality (“Wirkichkeit” in the terminology of Constructive Realism) is not possible.
If we look to the structure , functions and history of religion in Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, we recognize, that it gets importance by being embedded into ethical convictions, scientific structures ( by direct influence as by overcoming religious convictions) and social as political structures. The rest is going to be converted into ideologies, which have some times dangerous outcomes.

Dr. Fraser Watts
What is ‘natural’ about religion?

It has been suggested that religion is more ‘natural’ than science. However, religion is multi-faceted and some aspects are more natural than others. Doctrine is probably the least natural aspect of religion (and probably goes back only to the Neolithic period); charismatic religion, in contrast, seems more natural and probably has antecedents in the trance dances of the Upper or even Middle Paleolithic. There are also indications that belief in an afterlife may be more natural than belief in God; and that spirituality may be more natural than other aspects of religion. The less natural aspects of religion seem to depend more exclusively on the dominant hemisphere. I suggest that the more natural aspects of religion tend to facilitate social cohesion, whereas the less natural aspects are often socially divisive. It is often assumed by Cognitive Science of Religion that naturalism was the intuitive outlook of emerging humanity. I maintain that the concept of naturalism is a modern construction, and that humanity probably began with monistic assumptions that did not separate the natural and the spiritual. This makes it unnecessary and inappropriate to propose that religion was a cognitive mistake involving domain violation.

Wesley J Wildman
Religious Naturalism: Oxymoronic Muddle or Future Spiritual Juggernaut?

For some people, religion concerns actualities and possibilities beyond or in addition to the world of natural processes, while naturalism confines possibilities and actualities in such a way as to rule out supernatural events and realms and beings. For such people, the phrase “religious naturalism” can sound oxymoronic. When the key terms are construed in this way, religious naturalism is indeed an incoherent concept. But religious naturalism need not be thought of in this way, and it can be thought of in alternative ways that are conceptually consistent and existentially compelling, at least to some. The purpose of this lecture is to explain one such understanding of religious naturalism, exhibiting the promise of the idea while distinguishing it from inadequate alternatives; and to estimate the conditions under which religious naturalism is likely to become a vibrant and widespread spiritual outlook.