BY MORRIS PONGRATZ
If you use the internet at all, you may have been asked whether you are a robot. Many web sites do this, trying to protect against spurious account creation. On one level, it’s an easy question to answer — no, you’re not a robot, you’re a flesh-and-blood human.
But on another level, it’s more difficult. Can we be sure our behavior is not programmed by our genetics, life experiences, instincts, and habits — to say nothing of our addictions and psychoses? How free are we, really?
The Board of Directors of the Los Alamos Faith and Science Forum announce the theme and schedule for their sixth summer series of lectures by local speakers and visiting scholars on topics at the intersection of science and religion. Please join with the Los Alamos Faith and Science Forum this summer at our weekly presentations during June and July 2019, as our speakers consider these questions.
During these sessions, we’ll be looking at the phenomenon of consciousness, the progress and discoveries of neuroscience in showing how the brain works, and whether we as humans possess free will and moral responsibility. We’ll consider the mind and the soul, and ask what it means to be made in the image of God. We’ll examine how emotions affect us, and how our brains change
throughout life, in response to our experiences and thoughts. Speaking of free will, we’ll take up the topic of evil — what it is, where it comes from, and who if anyone is responsible. And we’ll think about the role of miracles in all of this, and why God might be interested in creatures of flesh and blood.
In July, we’ll hear two lectures by visiting speaker Prof. Warren Brown, a psychologist, neurophysiologist, and author at Fuller Theological Seminary, on his research and writings. We’ll also hear from Dr. Garrett Kenyon, an artificial intelligence researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Please check out our website http://www.lafsf.org/ for more information.
All sessions will take place at the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos, 1738 N Sage Loop. On most evenings, we’ll begin with a light supper at 6 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall, with the presentation starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by questions and table discussions. The supper is free – a free-will donation will be available.
Here is the schedule of presentations:
June 5 Are You a Robot? The Questions – Bob Reinovsky
June 12 Consciousness: Material or Immaterial? – Chick Keller
June 19 Neuroplasticity: How the Mind Changes the Brain – Nels Hoffman
June 26 Neuroscience and Emotions – Bob Fuselier
July 3 No meeting this week
July 10 Prof. Warren Brown, Fuller Theological Seminary
July 11 (Thursday) Prof. Warren Brown, Fuller Theological Seminary
July 17 The Emperor Has No Brain (on the topic of artificial intelligence) – LANL researcher Garrett Kenyon
July 24 Evil: Is Anyone Responsible? – Gerry Wood
July 31 Miracles: Divine Free Will – Dan Winske