The Cambridge Roundtable on Science and Religion

The Roundtable Archives

Upcoming Roundtables

Past Roundtables

—Past Event—

What do Scientists Around the World Think about Religion and Why does it Matter?

November 12, 2020
Elaine Howard Ecklund, Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences, Professor of Sociology, and director of the Religion and Public Life Program at Rice University
—Past Event—

Lessons from Water Diplomacy in Resolving Complex Problems in Science and Religion through Principled Pragmatism

April 16, 2019
Shafik Islam, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering & Professor of Water Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University
—Past Event—

Human Progress Narratives and the Promotion of Human Flourishing

October 29, 2018
Tyler VanderWeele, John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
—Past Event—

The Future of Genetic Engineering with Harvard Geneticist George Church and Adult Stem Cell Research Professional James Sherley, M.D., Ph.D.

July 30, 2018
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.
—Past Event—

Reason, Science, Faith and Optimism, Harvard Professor of Physics Gerald Gabrielse

April 24, 2018
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.
—Past Event—

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, with Steven Pinker, Psychology, Harvard

March 20, 2018
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).
—Past Event—

From Fake News to cheating on taxes: How good are we? Why do any better? Wake Forest A. C. Reid Professor of Philosophy Christian B. Miller

February 12, 2018
Please be our guest February 12th, 6 – 9pm at our Cambridge Roundtable on Science and Religion at the Harvard Faculty Club as we discuss From Fake News to Cheating on Taxes: How good are we? Why do any better? Weighing insight from science and religion. Our evening will feature Wake Forest A. C. Reid Professor of Philosophy Christian B. Miller, author of The Character Gap: How Good Are We? (Oxford, December 2017).  Most of us would say that we may not be saints, but we are still honest, kind, and mostly trustworthy. However, hundreds of recent studies in psychology suggest, says Professor Miller, that character flaws prevent us from being as good as we think that we are: in a group of bystanders most of us will do nothing if someone cries for help - but often we will selflessly come to the aid of a complete stranger. Why this strange difference? Much depends, argues Miller, on cues in our social environment. Join us for the evening as we explore together what our character really looks like given current scientific understanding. 
—Past Event—

Emotional Artificial Intelligence and the Soul, featuring MIT's Rosalind Picard

November 29, 2017
Our evening will feature MIT’s Rosalind Picard, author of Affective Computing, the book that launched the field by that name, enabling robots and technology to develop skills of emotional intelligence, or “emotion AI”. Picard is Founder and Director of the Affective Computing Research Group at the MIT Media Lab, co-director of the MIT Media Lab’s Advancing Wellbeing Initiative, and Faculty Chair of MIT’s Mind+Hand+Heart Initiative. She has co-founded two companies Empatica, Inc. providing wearable sensors and analytics to improve health, and Affectiva, Inc. delivering emotion AI technology including recognition of facial and vocal emotion expressions. 
—Past Event—

The Observations of a Muslim and a Mennonite in Medicine; Joseph B. Martin, Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology, and Former Dean of the Harvard Faculty of Medicine, and M. Faisal Khan, M.D., Tuft’s University School of Medicine

October 25, 2017
October 25 our evening will feature complementary presentations by Joseph B. Martin, M.D., Ph.D., Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology, who served as Dean of the Harvard Faculty of Medicine from 1997 to 2007 and M. Faisal Khan, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, Tuft’s University School of Medicine, Associate Chief of Medicine, Carney Hospital, as we discuss The Observations of a Muslim and a Mennonite in Medicine: Examinations of the Body and Reflections on the Soul.
—Past Event—

The Fertility of Doubt and Faith in Science and Religion; Owen Gingerich, Harvard University Emeritus Professor of Astronomy and History of Science, and Dr. John Seel, author of The New Copernicans

September 19, 2017
September 19 our evening will feature complementary presentations by Owen Gingerich, Harvard University Emeritus Professor of Astronomy and History of Science, and Dr. John Seel, former Director of Cultural Engagement at the John Templeton Foundation, presently leading a consulting firm specializing in millennials, as we  address The Fertility of Doubt and Faith in Science and Religion.