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Forum Features Discussion on Belief in a Personal God


Leading theologian John Haught, Ph.D., Distinguished Research Professor at Georgetown University, laid out a framework for reconciling differences between science and faith during a presentation at a forum on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus.

The two-hour discussion, sponsored by the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture, also featured science writer and author John Horgan and Brian Davies, Ph.D., professor of philosophy at Fordham and author of The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil (Continuum International, 2006) Peter Steinfels, co-director of the Center on Religion and Culture, served as the forum’s moderator.

In his speech to a standing-room-only crowd at Pope Auditorium, Haught called upon the works of a wide range of intellectuals from the paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., to scientist and philosopher Michael Polanyi to address the seemingly contradictory notion raised by Charles Darwin and further explored by Albert Einstein that a universe governed by laws of science cannot include the kind of a personal god embraced by all major Western religions.

“After Darwin, certainly it’s possible to believe in a personal God,” Haught said. “But is it possible to do it honestly, with intellectual integrity, in an age of science?”  Einstein believed not, but Haught proposed that mathematician A.N. Whitehead’s notion of beauty as the ultimate purpose for creation and de Chardin’s embrace of a Noosphere, or “sphere of human thought,” show how faith and religion compliment, rather than compete with, science.

The event was the latest in the Center on Religion and Culture’s Headline Forum series exploring questions arising at the intersection of religion and culture. The center’s next event will be a discussion between Steinfels and José Casanova, Ph.D., professor sociology at the New School University, on the meaning of secularization and its impact. That forum will be held Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. at McNally Auditorium on the Lincoln Center campus.


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