Thursday April 3rd, 6:00 PM, as The Cambridge Roundtable on Science & Religion presents an evening of dinner and discussion at the Harvard Faculty Club featuring Professor of Philosophy, novelist, and MacArthur Fellow Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away (Pantheon, March 2014), contributing with part three of our series… Science or Scientism: The Normative Explosion (And Why We Only Needed One) Karl Jaspers, a German philosopher who died in 1969, pointed out that all the religious traditions that still survive originated in roughly the same period, 800 to 200 B.C.E., and that this was the period that also saw the birth of Greek philosophy and Greek tragedy. From the Far East of China and India and Persia and westward all around the Mediterranean, including north to the Judean Hills and into Europe by way of the ancient Greeks, there was an explosion of normative thinking—thinking about how we ought to live our lives. Jaspers called the normatively active period the Axial Age, because it gave rise to visions and traditions that still extend outward into our own time, like axials of a wheel. Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, and the Abrahamic religions all have their roots in the period, along with the secular approach that the Greeks originated. Confucius, the Buddha, Ezekiel, and Pythagoras were contemporaries of one another. All of us, whether secular or religious, locate ourselves in normative framework that derived during that time. What Jaspers called the Axial Age Goldstein prefers to call the Normative Explosion, comparing it to the Cambrian Explosion in evolutionary biology. What the Normative Explosion produced was almost all modern normative systems. Why did such an explosion happen just when it did? Goldstein plunges into the drama of philosophy, revealing its hidden role in today’s debates on religion, morality, politics, and science. Is the discipline no more than a way of biding our time until the scientists arrive on the scene? Which of the normative systems that were forged back in the day actually continues to offer viable answers today? For questions or comments, please reach Roundtable Coordinator Dave Thom and our new Roundtable Administrator Christina English at: firstname.lastname@example.org The Roundtable is “by invitation only” but we are more than glad to work with invited guests to welcome colleagues to participate. The Roundtable is co-chaired by: Owen Gingerich, Astronomy and History of Science (Emeritus), Harvard University Robert Randolph, Chaplain to the Institute and Dean, MIT Roundtable Coordinator: David Thom, Associate Chaplain, MIT To date, hundreds of Harvard, MIT, BU and Tufts professors have engaged in Roundtable faculty-seminar dinner-discussions, experiencing the potential to bring added depth to their lives as scholars and educators. Roundtable seminars are dedicated to fostering dialogue that explores the intersection of contemporary academic thought and Christian thought on issues related to science and religion. Roundtable invitations are not pre-sorted in alignment with any particular religious or non-religious perspective. Scholars from a variety of departments and specially-selected community religious leaders are invited: the result has been that a diversity of academic and religious and non-religious views is represented. Among the recent thirty-one Cambridge Roundtables: November 2013 Science & Scientism, part two: The Affairs of Louis Agassiz: Race, Religion, and Charles Darwin Christoph Irmscher author of Louis Agassiz, Inventor of American Science Matthew Pearl author of The Technologists and The Dante Club April 2013 Science & Scientism, part one: The Monopolizing of Knowledge? Ian Hutchinson MIT, Nuclear Science & Engineering Ned Hall Harvard University, Philosophy October 2012 American Politics & Religion: Untangling the Web We Weave Robert Putnam Harvard University, Public Policy February 2012 God, Stephen Hawking, and the Cosmos: Is there a Grand Design? John Lennox Oxford, Mathematics Alan Guth MIT, Physics November 2011 Saints, Sex, and Society Sarah Ruden Wesleyan University, Classics April 2011 What do Scientists Really Think about Religion? Elaine Ecklund Rice University, Sociology October 2010 Political Power and Persuasive Presence James Davison Hunter University of Virginia, Sociology Robert M. Randolph MIT, Chaplain to the Institute March 2010 Can We Be Good Without God? Rae Langton MIT, Philosophy William Lane Craig Talbot School of Theology, Philosophy November 2009 Answering the New Atheists Stanley E. Fish Florida International University, Law and Humanities J. Mark Ramseyer Harvard University, Law For a complete list of all 30 previous roundtables, click here.