Contemporary civilization is characterized by a technological paradigm, in which our increasing control over aspects of nature challenges our interpretations of the essence of what is natural, what is good, and what is properly human. This has major implications for civic life, in areas such as bioethics, medicine and the dignity of the human person, the state of the environment, and our relationship with the rest of creation.
In an upcoming speaker series at Catholic Conscience, Geoffrey Woollard and Peter Copeland will engage with leading scientists, philosophers, and theologians whose work is nourished by a Catholic Christian understanding of the world. Through their work, as well as an engagement with Catholic social teaching and the latest work in the Magisterium of the Church, we hope to come to a greater appreciation of the integrity and beauty of creation that is a hallmark of Catholicism.
After an introductory session on August 12th to set the stage for the series, we have Professor Christopher Baglow – Religion and Science Initiative Director at Notre Dame University – first up in September. He will speak with us about faith & science, evolution, and how we come to understand ourselves as beings with a discernable nature that has nonetheless evolved and is still evolving.
In October, Sister Damien Marie Savino – a Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist and the Dean of Science and Sustainability at Aquinas College – will speak with us about Ecological conversion through faith and science. Through her work, we’ll explore how we can better see the interconnectedness in things, as well as the link between integral ecology (care for the environment) and human ecology (pro-life) – two perspectives that are often separate from each other in practice.
Building on the environmental and ecological themes of Sister Savino’s talk, we’ll interview Professor Christopher Thompson in November, Director of the Institute for Theological Research at the University of St Thomas. We’ll speak with him about Green Thomism and how to bring Catholic theology, philosophy and practice into closer conversation with strands of environmental thinking.
In December, we will host Professor Sonsoles de Lacalle – Chair of the Health Sciences Department at California State University – to discuss human sexual nature from a Catholic and scientific perspective. She will speak about gender theories, sexuality, and the nature of the human person as sexually dimorphous, the masculine and feminine geniuses, and our inherent sexual complementarity.
In the early months of 2022, we’ll host Fr. Peter Turrone and Geoff Woollard.
Fr. Peter is a priest for the Archdiocese of Toronto, former Director of the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto and current chair of the Society of Catholic Scientists in the city. Fr. Peter will speak with us about the philosophy and practice of medicine, psychology and health care. We’ll address the spiritual side of health, past and present secular paradigms of the meaning of health and well-being, and the purpose of medicine. In particular, we’ll focus on what appears to be an emerging paradigm shift from an understanding of health rooted in objective diagnosis against a standard of human flourishing, to one that is founded in the self-diagnosis of the patient and their raw, subjective preferences.
Geoffrey Woollard is a former PhD student in structural biology at the University of Toronto, now embarking on a Computer Science program at the University of British Columbia. He has helped organize the Toronto Chapter of the Society of Catholic Scientists and is a member of the group writ large. We’ll speak with Geoff about his work on the 3D structure of biomolecules and computer science to get his perspective on order and creativity in nature. In particular, we’ll dig deeper into how we use differentiation and classification to determine the essences of things with logic and reason, and deepen our understanding of them through scientific practice. Geoff’s interdisciplinary writings on faith-science dialogue have been featured in the Torch, Scientia et Fides, and the online Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science.
A primary goal of Catholic Conscience is to bring the values of the Gospel, as reflected in Catholic social teachings, into the centre of social discourse. We present seminars and workshops, publish podcasts, and videos on a variety of topics intended to stimulate discussion, form our consciences, guide our lifestyle choices, inform our private and public conversations, and help us discern which political leaders we support.
Throughout the series, we’ll be highlighting the implications of the scientific and philosophical findings to our lives as citizens.
Please join us by signing up for each session and subscribing to the Catholic Conscience newsletter. The webinars are interactive in nature, so come prepared with your questions.