In July 1996 the Vatican Observatory, in association with the
Berkeley-based Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, held an
international conference on the theme of evolution. The conference, which took
place in the pope's summer residence, Castel Gandolfo (outside Rome), was the
fourth in a series based around the overall theme of "Divine Action".
Over the past decade the Divine Action conferences (which are held every two
years), have been bringing together scientists, philosophers, and theologians
from around the world.
Each conference has a specific scientific theme, and
participants present papers on how these scientific themes are relevant to
theological and religious questions. The theme of the first conference was
physics, philosophy, and theology; the next was chaos and complexity; the third
was quantum cosmology; the fourth was evolution; the fifth conference (held in
July 1998) was focused around the brain/mind problem; and the sixth (held in
2000) was on the theme of quantum mechanics. At the evolution conference,
participants considered both the biological evolution of life on earth, and the
evolution of the cosmos as a whole. All agreed that, in essence, an evolutionary
perspective was commensurate with a Christian world view. The papers from this
conference have been published as a book "Evolutionary and Molecular
Biology: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action", which is an excellent
resource for anyone interested in exploring this subject more seriously.
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| Contributed by: Margaret Wertheim