Advanced Seminar in Religion and Science – Spring 2008

The 'Hard Problem' - Consciousness, Experience, and Mind

Philip Hefner and Gayle Woloschak Monday Evenings 7:00 PM — 10:00 PM Common Room 350, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 East 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60615

How does subjective experience arise from neural computation? What accounts for the transition from brain to mind?  From what we read in the popular press, one might think that science is on the verge of explaining the connection between neurobiology and subjective experience and perhaps even explaining away our experience.

Neuroscientists, however, following the lead of philosopher David Chalmers, call this the hard problem. They do not at present agree whether this problem can be solved at all or whether it is inherently beyond full explanation. Theologians like Lluís Oviedo call it the greatest challenge now facing religion and theology from the sciences.  This year’s Advanced Seminar, co-chaired by Gayle Woloschak and Philip Hefner will focus on this hard problem. 

Offered by the Zygon Center for Religion and Science (ZCRS), the Advanced Seminar in Religion and Science is designed as a research seminar for faculty and graduate students.  Course credit is available via registration through the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) or cross-registration through member schools of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS).  All participants, whether taking the seminar for credit or not, are asked to pre-register with the seminar chairs by contacting ZCRS at or 773-256-0670.  For more information about ZCRS, please visit For more information about Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, visit

Advanced Seminar Schedule - Spring 2008

February 4, 20087:00 - 10:00 PMThe Seminar Theme Why is it Important? Where Does it Lead?Gayle Woloschak, molecular biology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
Philip Hefner, theology emeritus, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
February 11, 20087:00 - 10:00 PMThe Hard Problem and Theology: Ontology, Causality, and the DivineGregory Peterson, religious studies, philosophy, South Dakota State University
February 18, 20087:00 - 10:00 PMCognitive Neuroscience and Consciousness: Theoretical and Methodological IssuesMichael Spezio, neuroscience, Scripps College and California Institute of Technology
February 25, 20087:00 - 10:00 PMThe Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material WorldOwen Flanagan, philosophy, Duke University
March 3, 20087:00 - 10:00 PMThe Experience of ConsciousnessMary Gerhart, religious studies emerita, Hobart & William Smith Colleges; Senior Fellow, Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion
March 10, 20087:00 - 10:00 PMPerspectives from Cognitive PsychologySian Beilock, cognitive psychology, University of Chicago
March 17, 20087:00 - 10:00 PMPhilosophical Approaches to the Hard ProblemLeslie Marsh, Centre for Research in Cognitive Science, University of Sussex
March 24, 2008NO SESSION: Reading Week
March 31, 20087:00 - 10:00 PMPerspectives from Developmental PsychologySusan Hespos, developmental psychology, Northwestern University
April 7, 20087:00 - 10:00 PMThe Hard Problem and the HolyMladen Turk, religious studies, Elmhurst College
April 14, 21, 28, 20087:00 - 10:00 PMPresentations by seminar members
May 5, 20087:00 - 10:00 PMWrap-up
View All Advanced Seminars