Emergence Conference 2006

Guests for Thursday's public lecture listen attentively to Dr. King's presentation.
Guests for Thursday's public lecture listen attentively to Dr. King's presentation.

Guests for Thursday’s public lecture listen attentively to Dr. King’s presentation.

On September 28-30, 2006, Zygon Center for Religion and Science welcomed over 50 professors, graduate students, and ministers from around the United States and from as far as Estonia and Pakistan to participate in “Emergence: A Better Vision of Nature, Science, and Religion?”

The research conference kicked off Thursday evening with a public lecture by Barbara King, Professor of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary. King’s lecture, entitled “Beyond Genes and Memes: Evolutionary Science and the Origins of Religion” drew almost a hundred guests to the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago’s Augustana Chapel.

Dr. Robert Ulanowicz gives his lecture on Friday.

Dr. Robert Ulanowicz gives his lecture on Friday.

The next morning, registered participants continued the conversation begun by King’s lecture. In sessions throughout the weekend, lecturers from the disciplines of philosophy, physics, ecology, computer science, psychology and theology explored the concept of emergence as it arises in their respective fields of study.

Lively discussion followed each lecture, as participants challenged the speakers and one another to understand the phenomenon in various disciplinary contexts, clarify definitions of the term, and gain insights in its significance for the understanding of processes on various scales.

After introductory remarks from ZCRS Director Antje Jackelén and Jim Proctor, director of the New Visions project at conference co-sponsor University of California Santa Barbara, philosopher Greg Peterson, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at South Dakota State University, led off the day’s research presentations with a talk entitled “Species of Emergence.” Participants were also treated to lectures by Leo Kadanoff, Professor Emeritus of Physics and Mathematics at the University of Chicago; Robert Ulanowicz, Professor of Theoretical Ecology at University of Maryland’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory; Anne Foerst, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at St. Bonaventure University; Warren Brown, Professor of Psychology at the Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary and a member of the UCLA Brain Research Institute; Antje Jackelén, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology/Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago; and Philip Hefner, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and Senior Fellow at ZCRS.

Dr. Leo Kadanoff responds to a question.

Dr. Leo Kadanoff responds to a question.

Emergence: A Better Vision of Nature, Science, and Religion?

A Research Conference organized by the Zygon Center for Religion and Science in
collaboration with the University of California, Santa Barbara

September 28-30, 2006

Scientists discuss it, philosophers define and evaluate it, and theologians get excited about it. The term emergence keeps popping up almost everywhere.

For some, it seems to be the magic wand that explains (almost) everything. Others understand emergence to furnish the ultimate justification of ontological naturalism, thus leading to a non-theistic or anti-theistic worldview. Others again invoke emergence as a rational way of bringing immanence and transcendence together, thus arguing for the plausibility of theistic worldviews.

For some, emergence is all about hierarchies and levels of order. Their guiding metaphor is the ladder. Others view emergence as a feast of interconnectedness in and between systems of systems. Their guiding metaphor is dance. Is one view more right than another? Are we asking the right questions about emergence? What answers are available? What questions should be asked in further research?

These are some of the questions that will be explored at this research conference organized by the Zygon Center for Religion and Science in Chicago. The conference is being held in collaboration with the University of California Santa Barbara, where a major research project entitled ‘New Visions of Nature, Science, and Religion‘ is moving towards completion.

Conference Program

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Registration 6:00-7:00 pm

Opening Lecture (open to the public) 7:00-8:30 pm

Barbara King, Professor of Anthropology, The College of William and Mary, “Beyond Genes and Memes: Evolutionary Science and the Origins of Religion”

Reception 8:30-9:30 pm

Friday, September 29, 2006

Breakfast 8:00-9:00 am

Session 1: 9:00-10:30 am

Welcome by Antje Jackelén

Opening Statement by Jim Proctor, Professor of Environmental Studies, Lewis and Clark College

Greg Peterson, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, South Dakota State University – “Species of Emergence”

Session 2: 10:45 am-12:15 pm

Leo Kadanoff, Professor of physics and mathematics , University of Chicago – “Breaking a Neck, Making a Splash, the Development of Complexity in Physical Systems”

Response: John Albright, Visiting Professor of Religion and Science, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago; Professor Emeritus of Physics, Purdue University Calumet

Lunch 12:30-1:30 pm

Session 3: 2:00-3:30 pm

Robert Ulanowicz, Professor of Theoretical Ecology, University of Maryland, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory – “Emergence, Naturally!”

Response: Brooke Parry Hecht, Research Associate, Center for Humans and Nature, Chicago

Session 4: 4:00-5:30 pm

Anne Foerst, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, St. Bonaventure University – “Emergence in Artificial Intelligence”

Response: Stacey Ake, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Drexel University

Dinner 6:00-7:00 pm

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Breakfast 8:00-9:00 am

Session 5: 9:00-10:30 am

Warren Brown, Professor of Psychology at the Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Member UCLA Brain Research Institute – “Neuropsychology, Emergence, and Human Agency”

Response: Carl Gillett, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Illinois Wesleyan University

Session 6: 10:45 am -12:15 pm

Antje Jackelén, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology/Religion and Science, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago; Director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science – “Emergence – A Viable Vision for Theology?”

Philip Hefner, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago/Senior Fellow, Zygon Center for Religion and Science – “Emergence as Story, Hope, and Promise”

Lunch and Discussion 12:15-1:30 pm

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