What Makes Us Human? Lessons From Genetics And Genesis

Praveen SethupathyOn April 8, 2018 I will be giving a joint-talk at West Chester University, in West Chester, PA, with Praveen Sethupathy, a Christian geneticist from Cornell University. Our topic is how science and faith can function as co-laborers in the pursuit of truth, in particular the question of what makes us human.

Whereas he will draw on his expertise as a scientist, I will bring my expertise in biblical studies to bear on the question. We will both speak out of our perspective as committed Christians.

Together we will examine what genomic science and the creation accounts in Genesis teach us about the intimate connection between humans and other species, while recognizing the distinctiveness of the human calling to image God.

Praveen and I have done this sort of joint talk before, at the Trinity Forum in Washington, DC and at Brown University in Providence, RI.

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The talk is part of a series called “Sunday Night Theology,” sponsored by The Journey Church of West Chester, PA.

While most of the talks in the series are held at The Journey Church, this particular talk will take place at West Chester University, in the Philips Autograph Library, 5:00pm – 6:30pm, on April 8, 2018.

If you are in the area, you’re invited to join the discussion.


Reading Genesis 1 Responsibly (Audio and Handout available)

Last week I gave a talk at the Nickel City Forum in Buffalo, NY on how to read the creation account in Genesis 1 (specifically Genesis 1:1—2:3) responsibly, for its authentic message, instead of reading it with modern assumptions. You can access my blog post about the talk here.

The Nickel City Forum has just posted an audio of the talk, for the benefit of anyone interested who couldn’t make it to the event.

At the event I gave out a four page handout with an outline of my talk with biblical references and a few visuals. You can download the handout here.

I’d be interested in follow-up discussion with anyone who attended or anyone who listens to the audio and wants to respond.

How Should We Read Genesis 1?

On this coming Thursday, February 8, at 8:00 pm, I’ll be giving a talk in Buffalo, NY on how best to read Genesis 1 in a contested cultural context.

The full title of the talk is: “In the Beginning God Created the Heavens and the Earth: Responsible Interpretation of Genesis 1 in Ancient and Contemporary Contexts.”

Many Christians today try to make this ancient text, which describes God’s creation of the cosmos, fit with modern assumptions. The main assumption that modern people bring to Genesis 1, which distorts what it is actually saying, is that this creation account must be coordinated with what we think science teaches us about the world.

For some, this means rejecting any aspects of modern science that don’t seem to match the text (the typical view of young earth creationists). For others, it means rejecting Genesis 1 because it clearly doesn’t match modern science (the view of many skeptics).

The trouble is that Genesis 1 is an ancient text that has no interest in addressing modern science at all. It has an entirely different focus.

In my talk, I will be taking participants on a journey of understanding, to see what this ancient text was saying to its original audience, and how its amazing message can impact us today (even in a modern scientific world).

The talk is being held as part of the Nickel City Forum, sponsored by Anglicans of Western New York. which hosts various events, including a series of talks typically given in pubs and open to the public.

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This talk will be held at The Place, on 229 Lexington Ave, Buffalo, New York 14222. For more information about the event, including how to register and get tickets, click here.