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Chippewa Valley Dialogue on Science and Religion Plans Film and Panel Discussion May 9

RELEASED: May 2, 2006

EAU CLAIRE — A film screening and panel discussion titled "Mixing Science & Religion: Do We Know What the Bleep We're Doing?" is slated for May 9 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The film, titled "What the Bleep Do We Know?," will screen at 5 p.m. and the panel discussion will follow at 7 p.m. in Davies Theatre.

Panelists include Dr. Geoff Gorham, assistant professor of philosophy and religious studies; Dr. George Stecher, associate professor of physics and astronomy; and Dr. Scott Lowe, professor of philosophy and religious studies. The moderator is Dr. Charlene Burns, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies.

The discussion will focus on issues raised by the integration of science and religion, the uses and abuses of science to support the agenda of religious groups, and the value of attempting to integrate religious teachings with scientific discoveries, said Dr. Charlene Burns, director of the Chippewa Valley Dialogue on Science and Religion initiative.

The CVDSR was created by faculty in the sciences and religious studies, clergy and a local physician to help people on and off campus better understand issues that relate to science and religion. The initiative will provide organized discussions, bring science and religion experts to campus, and help high school science teachers better address questions that touch on religion.

"The worlds of science and religion are intersecting in new and dramatic ways," Burns said, citing examples like cloning, the notion of intelligent design, genetic engineering and modern neurophysiology. "Many of the discoveries and theories in the sciences challenge long-held religious beliefs. And scientists are now capable of things that run directly up against the moral values that are central to many religions."

Science and religion-based issues are being discussed on campus, in the community and in the media, said Burns. But discussions are often based on emotion instead of fact, she said.

CVDSR will try to stimulate discussions among students, community members and experts in the areas of science and religion in an environment in which people can focus on issues, without letting emotion control the conversation, Burns said.

"Our agenda is not to present one side and say it's the right side," Burns said. "We want to help people get good information about all sides of an issue, filter it and make sense of it in the context of their own belief system."

The core members of CVDSR have been meeting since fall 2005 to study and discuss some issues they believe have social and religious significance, Burns said. The May 9 event is an effort to involve more people in the conversation, she said.

CVDSR members plan to bring nationally known experts in science and religion to campus to lead public forums and lectures about issues relating to the intersection of science and religion, Burns said, noting that care will be taken when selecting experts to ensure that all sides of issues are represented. Local experts also will make public presentations, she said.

CVDSR received a three-year $30,000 grant from the Local Societies Initiative, which is administered by the Metanexus Institute through funding from the John Templeton Foundation. The UW-Eau Claire Foundation and the College of Arts and Sciences also provided funds.

The May 9 event is free and open to the public. Event sponsors include the CVDSR initiative and the department of philosophy and religious studies.

For more information, contact Dr. Charlene Burns at (715) 836-2930 or



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