I spent all day at the Peacocke Memorial Symposium, at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Chicago. The talks varied, but were mostly good. I particularly liked Philip Claytonâ€™s talk, which was on emergent phenomena at multiple levels of complexity, and how systems biology fits in with this model. I had a few minutes to talk to him later in the seminary bookstore. I asked him something about his talk, and we had an interesting brief discussion. He was quite gracious, really, saying that Iâ€™d stated it more clearly than he had, and that he hadnâ€™t thought of the point I was making. As we were about to go back to the meetings, he looked at my name tag and said â€œVery intelligent questions. Iâ€™m impressed.â€
I kind of wanted to feel patronized, but I just couldnâ€™t quite manage it. Iâ€™ve read things heâ€™s written, and yes, he is that much smarter than I am. He meant it kindly.
I also had a chance at breakfast to talk to Ian Barbour briefly. He wrote the text Iâ€™ve used for the last 15 years in my Science and Religion class, and is now apparently older than God.
At lunch, I was talking with a graduate student who is doing her thesis on the consequences of the mistranslation of â€œEl-Shaddaiâ€ as â€œpantocratorâ€ in the Septuagint, rendered as â€œalmightyâ€ in English bible translations. I asked her if she knew Anna Case-Winters, whose doctoral dissertation was published as â€œGodâ€™s Powerâ€. She didnâ€™t, which surprised me because Case-Winters is a professor at McCormick Theological Seminar â€“ itâ€™s the Presbyterian seminary right next door to the Lutheran one. Anyway, at break time later I saw Case-Winters and was able to find the grad student and introduce them. The 10-minute conversation that ensued was pretty incomprehensible to me, but it was clear that they had some interests in common.
Letâ€™s see, what other names can I drop here? I talked to Nancey Murphy in the bookstore; we had a nice chat, but she didnâ€™t actually remember meeting some years before when she came to Chicago to give a talk. John and Carol Albright were very nice to me as always â€“ Iâ€™ve visited them several times for Science and Religion stuff in Chicago. Most of the time I sat next to a divinity student from a seminary in Indiana; we had several interesting conversations about the talks.
All in all, I had a nice time. I should come up here more often; it always re-energizes me for science and religion issues, and gets me more excited about teaching my class.
* I thought he had confounded ontological and epistemological reductionism at one point, if you must know.