August 23, 2015

Dear WesleyNexus Colleague:

Engaging the sacred by whatever name is both a unique trait of being human and one of the most
challenging aspects of the human condition.  This month, we will highlight some of the journeys taken by
individuals of diverse backgrounds ranging from scientists engaged in the protestant mainstream to a young
earth creationist’s struggle to embrace both faith and evolution.  We then move to an excerpt of a
philosophical theologian’s magnum opus which describes our current cosmic understanding; this approach
embraces the challenge to cultivate new “more transcendent symbols of ultimacy” that reflect both the
immense scale of the cosmos and the continued need for intimacy and piety within that cosmos.  Finally, it
was with great joy that I discovered a link reporting that Mr Facebook himself, Mark Zuckerburg, has
recommended to his virtual community the reading of one of the religious classics of the modern age,
William James'
Varieties of Religious Experience.  We may be a society that is becoming less and less
affiliated with the religious institutions of our recent industrializing, urbanizing and pluralizing past, but the
questions of mysterium tremedum et fascinans (terrible mystery) of Rudolph Otto, and absolute concern of
Paul Tillich, remain with us as part the human experience.  We are drawn to mystery and drawn to
meaning.  It is our lot and is our calling.  I hope you enjoy what we have included in this month’s
newsletter.        

We at WesleyNexus produce this newsletter and develop our programs as a labor of love and as a response
to a call from that ultimate mystery just mentioned.  To enrich our programs, we need your support.   
THANK YOU TO THOSE OF YOU WHO ACTUALLY SENT RECENT CONTRIBUTIONS. We
want to stress that all funds that we collect are spent on maintaining our web presence, sponsoring
programs, distributing the newsletter and promoting activities of other organizations within the science and
religion space.
All contributions are acknowledged for tax reporting purposes either through PayPal receipt
or by letter
. Please consider supporting us with a contribution either through the PayPal DONATE link
below, or, by sending a check to:   


WesleyNexus, Inc.  
24500 Fossen Road
Damascus, MD 20872


Thanks in advance for your support.

God Bless,

Rick, Maynard, and the rest of the
WesleyNexus Board of Directors

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Scientists in Congregations

On http://www.scientistsincongregations.org/about-us/, Scientists in Congregations
is described as “a $2 million grant program, funded by the John Templeton
Foundation, created to catalyze the dialogue of theology and science in local
congregations. In 2011, grants were awarded to thirty-five congregations in the
United States (representing twenty-five states), as well as one in Canada and one
in France. These grant recipients produced a wide range of projects on topics in
theology and science that enhanced their congregational life. This website has
gathered many of those projects as a way of resourcing additional churches that
would like to explore their engagement with the insights of science.... Our hope is
that you will use these resources as guides for leading your own discussions and classes, or as inspiration to
craft new material specifically tailored to your congregation”.  

Reflecting the fruits of this effort,
The Christian Century made the question of scientists' participation in
faith communities their cover story.  The cover article by David J. Wood’s (found here) frames the
discussion by presenting both the ideal of respectful dialogue between persons of differing perspectives
along with the reality of conflict between parties that misunderstand each other.  The article concludes with
“it is no wonder, then, that children grow up assuming that religion and science do not mix—or worse, that
scientific understanding equates with an intellectual maturity and that faith represents a lack of courage to
see the world as it truly is. It is no wonder that many adults think religious life belongs in that diminishing
cognitive space reserved for a sentimental loyalty to things learned before one grows up.”

To counter Wood’s downbeat conclusion, there are five companion pieces providing more positive
reflections by those participating in the Scientists in Congregations program.  Reflecting a wide diversity of
geographic communities, these articles present a hopeful sign that incremental progress can be made.  As
Elaine Howard Ecklund, sociologist at Rice University puts it, quoting a scientist in her congregation, “I
always thought of my work [as a scientist] as completely separate from my actual faith or something that
needed to ‘be dealt with.’ But through presenting my own perspective on the compatibility, for me,
between science and Christian faith, I came to see how my work and my Christian faith can be deeply
integrated.”  These articles can be found
here and here.  


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Event Summary

Biologos: Evolution and Christian Faith by Mike Beidler

From June 30 through July 2, 2015, BioLogos culminated its
Evolution and Christian Faith (ECF) grant program with an
eponymous conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Over 250
people attended the conference and 150 joined by live stream.  
The conference featured a world-class lineup of plenary speakers
whose expertise spanned a wide range of disciplines: theology,
history, biology, paleontology, biblical studies, and ministry.   Video recordings of the plenary lectures and
audio recordings of oral sessions from the five concurrent program tracks are available to view and
download.
It was a phenomenal opportunity to be energized by everyone's dual passion for both Jesus Christ and the
cosmos that He made.  In addition to being exposed to a variety of viewpoints, some of which were
incompatible with each other, I was struck by the humility expressed by all of the plenary speakers and oral
presenters.  The priority of Jesus Christ and His command to love one another served to underscore the
plethora of views, thus creating a safe environment to explore in greater detail the science behind
evolutionary theory, the theology of the sacred Hebrew and Christian scriptures by which we can know the
living Word of God, and how we can put science and faith into practice in our respective spheres of life and
influence.

Mike Beidler
A retired U.S. Navy commander, Mike currently resides in the Washington DC Metro Area and serves as
the Deputy Director for International Affairs in the Department of the Navy. Mike holds an MS in Global
Leadership from the University of San Diego, a BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan,
and an AA in Persian-Farsi from the U.S. Army’s Defense Language Institute. Mike is President of the DC
Metro Section of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), a member of the National Center for Science
Education (NCSE), and helps administer the Facebook group Celebrating Creation by Natural Selection
(CCNS).  

Star Island Conference

Close to 100 persons gathered on Star Island off the coast of
Portsmouth, New Hampshire on August 8 for the 51st Annual
Conference of the Institute for Religion in an Age of Science. The
2015 Conference topic “Unsettling Science and Religion:
Contributions and Questions from Queer Studies,” took shape under the direction of Drs. Whitney Bauman
and Lisa Stenmark. The conference drew its intellectual and social cues from the work of Michel Foucault
and Judith Butler, beginning with the idea that assumptions of heterosexuality, monogamy, gender and
sexual dimorphism, among other norms, are not in any way natural but cultural, created through time,
traditions, politics, and power dynamics.  Extending this idea to all ideas that purport to be natural, universal
and given, ultimately suggests that reality is more complex and far stranger than any thought, idea, system,
or belief can capture.  It is at heart about continuing the conversations and explorations of the world in
which we live, rather than arriving at any final conclusions.  The scientific method of exploration and
deconstructive strands of religious thought both have mechanisms that unsettle and challenge truth claims,
and in this sense are much “queerer” than popularly imagined.  However, such iconoclastic streams of
religious and scientific thought often give way to the institutionalization of more solid ways of understanding
reality.  

  Conference Co-Chair Stenmark, Professor in the Humanities at San Jose State University, provided the
opening keynote on “The Future of the Science and Religion Dialogue.” Other lectures and discussions
were led by Dorothy L. Hernandez, Attorney in San Francisco, Dr. Claudia Schippert, Associate Professor
at the University of Central Florida, Dr. Willem Drees, editor of ZYGON and Dean of the School of
Humanities at Tilberg University in Denmark, Meredith Coleman-Tobias, Ph.D. candidate at Emory
University, Dr. Catherine Kellor, Dean at Drew University School of Theology, Dr. Bauman, Associate
Professor at Florida International University, and Dr. Carol Wayne White, Professor in Philosophy and
Religion at Bucknell University. Dr. William Grassie, who describes himself now as an interdisciplinary
scholar and academic entrepreneur, but who is known to most of us from his days as Director of
MetaNexus, provided the leadership on the final day of summaries and conclusion. Dr. Stanley Klein,
neuroscientist and Professor at the University of California Berkeley, provided this reflection: "Topics
related to sex and gender are beyond being complicated and complex. It may be that science doesn't yet
have the language to do a good job of dealing with these issues. It was a really fascinating conference.... at
the interface between the humanities and the sciences, which was nifty.” Dr. Karl Peters, former ZYGON
editor and a member of IRAS stretching back decades, said“We just had a great lecture here at IRAS by
Carol Wayne White, based on her forthcoming book: Black Lives and Sacred Humanity: Towards an
African American Religious Naturalism (Fordham Press, 2016).  Her lecture today was titled “Polyamorous
Bastards: James Baldwin and Desires of a Queer African American Religious Naturalism” that weaved
together ideas from James Baldwin, Ursula Goodenough, Loyal Rue, Don Crosby and others. The
conference had a high-energy level, and Star Island was beautiful.” Some of the Conference presentations
will be featured in a forthcoming issue of ZYGON in 2016.

Modern Cosmism Conference
Dates: October 10, 2015
Location: New York, NY

The conference will address fundamental philosophical issues that arise
with the future design and use of artificial consciousness, mind-uploading
and cyber-immortality. How will our concepts of subjectivity, perception,
and morality change, if we will live in a mega-consciousness environment
where you can experience multiple presences, personality, gender (or no gender at all) and unlimited kinds
of artificial feelings? What are the possible ramifications and consequences of digital consciousness?
Cosmism suggests that the profound nature of the reality is also digital and it utilizes an existential source
code coming from Being that is using “radiant humanity” for its own preservation and modification. Our
keynote and plenary speakers are well-known international protagonists of Cosmism, Transhumanism  and
interdisciplinary researchers. Their lectures will discuss the most important current issues of Modern
Cosmism from the point of view of philosophy, technology, ethics, robotics, psychology, and anthropology.

For more on Cosmism and the event, click
here.

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Articles

Journey From Young Earth Creationist to Evolutionary Theist by Mike Beidler

In researching Mike Beidler’s biography, I came across a series of posts on
Biologos where Beidler narrates his conversion from a young earth creationist
to an evolutionary theist. Beidler describes how he is coming to terms with the
church he loves, the community in which he participates, and relates to those
within the community whose significant disagreements have caused no small
amount of discomfort.  But as he states, “my family and I have chosen not to
isolate ourselves with others who agree with us on every point of Christian
culture; we go where the Holy Spirit leads, and it appears that God has found
fit to put us right in the middle of congregations that are solidly young-earth
creationist—right in the middle of all sorts of potential anxiety.”  Through gracious accepting of those with
whom he disagrees while at the same time communicating clearly his own and his wife’s position, Beidler
has formed relationships that have transcended theological differences.  His story, which can be found
here,
is worth reflection, even for those of us who reside in more progressive and open communities.     

Metaphysics as Spiritual Journey

Robert Neville, a long time icon on the academic theological scene in Boston, recently
completed his three volume magnum opus with the rather intimidating one word title:
ultimates.  The title, beginning with the first letter being in lower case, reflects both a
sense of ambition and humility at the same time.  As he states in the Preface, his aim
is to find a middle ground between the triumphalism of confessional theology and the
“so-called objective religious studies that avoid  the questions of truth about first-order
theological issues.”  One of his commitments is to take the findings of science seriously
and to affect theological reflection accordingly.  Not only does science extend our
knowledge outwards, backwards and inwards in time and space, but also uncovers the “feeling of
embeddedness of human life in nature as imagined by the physics of biochemistry and ecology.”  This
feeling which reflects nature’s depth Neville calls intension. He beautifully describes this intention of nature
in chapter seven of the first volume of ultimates. He ends this section by inviting us to cultivate symbols of
ultimacy more in keeping with the “newfound scale of the cosmos and the cultivation of more intimate
symbols because of nature’s intension.”  I invite you to read his text
here.  

Thanks to Google Books for posting the text.    

Robert Neville, an ordained elder in the United Methodist church, was dean of the Boston University
School of Theology from 1988 to 2003 and dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University from 2003 to
2006. He was president of the American Academy of Religion and has held numerous positions in a wide
range of academic and religious organizations.  You can find more information on Robert Neville on his
website at
http://www.robertcummingsneville.com/

For a collection of sermons given by Robert Neville available on the web, see his
Seasons of the Christian Life Collection” and “Nurture in Time and Eternity” Collection on his website.  
(click the index button on the left to see the sermons.)

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I know you are tired by Stephen Kliewer  

We hope you find the poem below inspiring.  It was written by Stephen
Kliewer.  Stephen works at Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness and
attended Whitman, Princeton Seminary, San Francisco Seminary, and
Walden.  He lives in Joseph, Oregon.  The poem below can be found at
here on Stephen’s webpage.  
http://dancingfaith.blogspot.com/2015/08/i-know-you-are-tired.html


“I know you're tired but come, this is the way.”
― Rumi
______________________________________

i am pushed
kicking and screaming
into the day

my body protests
my mind complains

I know this
is Life

It is the way of joy and sorrow
“there are ten thousand joys and sorrows in every life” (Kornfield, A Lamp in the Darkness p.7)
and at one time or another
I will touch all of them

and my soul knows
(it is much wiser than the rest of me)
that my one job

my
one
job

is to weave all my life
for good or ill
for joy or sorrow
into the beautiful tapestry

that is
me

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Forum on Religion and Ecology

“The Forum on Religion and Ecology is the largest international multireligious project of its kind. With its
conferences, publications, and website it is engaged in exploring religious worldviews, texts, ethics, and
practices in order to broaden understanding of the complex nature of current environmental concerns. The
Forum recognizes that religions need to be in dialogue with other disciplines (e.g., science, economics,
education, public policy) in seeking comprehensive solutions to both global and local environmental
problems.  Go to
http://fore.yale.edu/.   

Why Mark Zuckerberg wants everyone to read this book about religion
By Richard Feloni

It is unusual to find an article that seems appropriate for WesleyNexus about
one of our nation’s most well known technology moguls.  I certainly didn’t
expect Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook and icon of the social network,
to be the focus of an article recommending that everyone read William James’
The Varieties of Religious Experience.  Zuckerberg has created a list of books
to read this year from a wide range of disciplines.  Most of the books are recent
publications.  William James, one of the founders of modern psychology, wrote a
book on religious experience that was based on his Gifford Lecture given at the
University of Edinburgh in 1901.  But here it is, right there with titles such as
Creativity, Inc., Genome, Energy: A Beginner’s Guide, Sapiens and The End of Power: From Boardrooms
to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn't What It Used to Be
.  Zuckerberg said,
“When I read Sapiens, I found the chapter on the evolution of the role of religion in human life most
interesting and something I wanted to go deeper on.”  If I had one questions to ask Zuckerberg, I would
ask him what he meant by “deeper on.”  Perhaps I should go on Facebook and ask!  You can find the
article
here.  

Zuckerberg’s Year of Books Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ayearofbooks?pnref=story

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Naked Ape or Techno Sapiens? The Relevance of Human Humanities By Willem B. Dees  

The inaugural address delivered on 30 January 2015 by Willem Drees at
Tilburg University  upon the public acceptance of his appointment as professor
of Philosophy of the Humanities  was shared at a recent IRAS council meeting,  
Willem B. Drees is Professor of Philosophy of the Humanities at Tilburg
University, dean of the Tilburg School of Humanities, and the editor of Zygon:
Journal of Religion and Science. Drees studied theoretical physics at Utrecht
University, theology at the Universities of Amsterdam and Groningen, and earned
doctorates in theology and in philosophy (Groningen, 1989, cum laude; Vrije
Universiteit, Amsterdam, 1994).  The article can be found
here.

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Resolutions to the General Conference - 2016 Resolution on Evolutionary Scientific Thinking  

This is the resolution Rev. Henry Schwarzmann  submitted to the Baltimore Washington Conference in
2013. Henry F. Schwarzmann, retired, wrote the resolution and members  of WesleyNexus, Inc. worked in
presenting this at the BWC. It was passed by the conference which met in May/June 2013.  It has been
modified slightly and is now submitted to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church 2016.  It
can be found
here.   

Schwarzmann's Six Non-scientific Creation Stories can be found
here.    

NOTE: Other resolutions supporting the dialogue at the nexus of science and religion are being submitted
for consideration by the quadrennial General Conference of the United Methodist Church. We will highlight
these in forthcoming WesleyNexus newsletters, and post these on our website as they become available.
We urge any of you who submitting such resolutions from other annual conferences to share these with us
so that other delegates to the 2016 General Conference in Portland will make note of this additional support.
Jul 23, 2015
by David J. Wood