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The Roundtable Archives


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Past Roundtables

July 30, 2018
The Future of Genetic Engineering with Harvard Geneticist George Church and Adult Stem Cell Research Professional James Sherley, M.D., Ph.D.
Please be our guest Monday July 30, 5:45PM, for our first ever summer Roundtable on Science and Religion where we are bringing back Harvard Geneticist George Church. Together with American Scientific Affiliation Fellows* who have gathered for their annual meetings, we will enjoy the beautifulTupper Manor on the Atlantic Ocean at the Wylie Inn & Conference Center of Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts. A reminder of whom we’re featuring, George Church: Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, George is a founding member of the Wyss Institute, and director of PersonalGenomes.org, the world’s only open-access information on human genomic, environmental, and trait data. Known for pioneering the fields of personal genomics and synthetic biology, George developed the first methods for the first genome sequence and dramatic cost reductions since then (down from $3 billion to $600), contributing to nearly all “next generation sequencing” methods and companies. His team invented CRISPR for human stem cell genome editing and other synthetic biology technologies and applications — including new ways to create organs for transplantation, gene therapies for aging reversal, and gene drives to eliminate Lyme disease and malaria. As director of IARPA & NIH BRAIN Projects and National Institutes of Health Center for Excellence in Genomic Science, George has coauthored 450 papers, 105 patents, and one book, Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves. His honors include Franklin Bower Laureate for Achievement in Science, the Time 100, and election to the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering.
April 24, 2018
Reason, Science, Faith and Optimism, Harvard Professor of Physics Gerald Gabrielse
Please be our guest Tuesday April 24th, 6:30 PM, at the Harvard Faculty Club in Cambridge for our next Roundtable on Science and Religion featuring Professor of Physics Gerald Gabrielse as he addresses Reason, Science, Faith and Optimism.   As Harvard’s George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Physics Gabrielse was recognized with both Harvard’s Levenson prize for exceptional teaching and Harvard’s Ledlie prize for exceptional research, along with many international research prizes. An active member of the National Academy of Sciences, he has chaired both the Harvard Physics Department and the Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics of the American Physical Society.  Gabrielse is now in transition, joining Northwestern University as a Board of Trustees Professor, and the founding director the Center for Fundamental Physics -- a physics center that has also agreed to host interdisciplinary visitors.    The Gabrielse research group tested the most precise prediction of the Standard Model of Particle Physics by making the most accurate measurement every made of a property of an elementary particle. They also tested the Standard Model's most fundamental symmetry to an exquisite precision. He and his collaborators made one of the most stringent tests of supersymmetry and other proposed improvements to the Standard Model. He started low energy antiproton and antihydrogen physics and leads the ATRAP collaboration at CERN.   Gabrielse is well-known as a no-nonsense experimental physicist who has made some of the most precise and fundamental measurements of modern physics. He is also a person of faith. He has agreed to reflect upon the synthesis of reason, science and faith that fuels his optimism for the future.
March 20, 2018
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, with Steven Pinker, Psychology, Harvard
Please be our guest Tuesday March 20, 6-9 PM, at the Harvard Faculty Club in Cambridge for our next Roundtable on Science and Religion featuring Steven Pinker who will address Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, the title of his new book.   Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophesies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In 75 jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.   Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature--tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking--which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation. With intellectual depth and literary flair, Pinker makes the case for reason, science, and humanism: the ideals we need to confront our problems and continue our progress.    Before we adjourn to dinner and discussion, Professor Pinker will answer a single question or comment from each of these three professors: Anne McCants (History, MIT), Mark Ramseyer (Law, Harvard), and Tyler VanderWeele (Epidemiology, Harvard).
March 24, 2017
Muslim Immigrants, Education and U.S. Culture: If intellectual freedom is found in U.S. culture is it from being rooted in religion or is it from being seasoned by science and reason?
…consistent with scientific research on faith-based schools religious instruction provides a better standpoint for critical engagement with the dominating culture than does a public school immersed in that culture…   From Muslims in the Melting Pot (First Things, April 2016, published by The Institute on Religion and Public Life) by Boston University Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Charles L. Glenn, PI of a study of Islamic high schools nationwide in a multi-sector study to explore “the relationship between schooling and the formation of moral sensibilities and habits among the young.” Glenn was director of urban education and equity efforts for the Massachusetts Department of Education, including administration of over $200 million in state funds for magnet schools and desegregation.   Serving the faculties of the Boston Islamic Seminary, Hebrew College, and Andover Newton School of Theology, Celene Ibrahim also holds an appointment as the Muslim Chaplain for Tufts University and is completing a PhD at Brandeis University’s Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies with a focus on women in the Qur’an. Previously: M.Div., Harvard Divinity School and B.A., Near Eastern Studies with highest honors from Princeton University.