This weekend, the public is welcome to join scientists and theologians for the 17th annual Conference on Science and Religion.This year’s conference will feature Niels Henrik Gregersen, professor of systematic theology at the University of Copenhagen. The theme of the conference is “Deep Incarnation: From Cosmos to Commitment.”
According to Carl Helrich, professor emeritus of physics, Gregersen, like featured speakers before him, chose the theme of the weekend.
“[Gregersen’s] topic,” Helrich said, “is one he has been developing for a number of years.”
Gregersen’s prior work has focused mostly on creation and Christology, as well as the philosophy of evolutionary biology.
Helrich mentioned how he typically looks for speakers, and then allows them to pick the topic of the weekend – not the other way around.
“Once we give the invitation [to the speaker] and it gets accepted,” he said, “I make it very clear to the speaker that [they] pick the topic and design the three lectures they’re going to give.”
When searching for speakers, Helrich said that he typically talks to past speakers for recommendations.
“[Gregersen’s] name floated to the top,” Helrich said. “…His record is just really phenomenal, as far as what he has done in the dialogue, along with his contributions. We’re delighted.”
Helrich began the conference 17 years ago after visiting a similar conference in Baltimore.
“I thought to myself ‘Gee willikers, we can do this at Goshen,’” Helrich said. “It just seemed like such a good idea, and we said ‘We have to try it.’”
Since then, the conference has been held every year and always features a well-known scholar on the topic of science and religion.
Students are encouraged to attend as many events as they can during the weekend.
“I think this is an eye-opener for young students and even young theologians,” said Helrich. “This is a need - this is becoming critical that we have this kind of dialogue and that we get more people in the religion department involved.”
At 1 p.m. on Saturday, students who have registered for the conference will get an opportunity to have a students-only session with Gregersen. Students who cannot afford the registration fee are still welcome to join the conference, as long as they contact Helrich prior.
Helrich said: “The students are the upcoming people – we’re not going to close doors on students.”
The conference begins on Friday night at 7 p.m., with a lecture open to the public, titled “The Cosmic Christ: God in a World of Mass, Energy, and Information.” On Saturday, another free lecture titled “Christ and Biology: Creativity and Suffering in a World of Biological Agency” will take place at 10:30 a.m. Both lectures will take place in the Church-Chapel.
The conference includes discussions with Gregersen, meals provided by the College Church Chapel, as well as Das Essenhaus, and worship services led by Ron Kennel.
Those who want to engage in all events throughout the weekend should register online.