WITA Speakers

Conference Speakers

Speakers include some of the world’s most esteemed and accomplished scholars in their respective fields. The following is a partial list, arranged alphabetically.

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David Z. Albert is Frederick E. Woodbridge Professor of Philosophy and Director of the M.A. Program in The Philosophical Foundations of Physics at Columbia University in New York. He received his B.S. in physics from Columbia College (1976) and his doctorate in theoretical physics from The Rockefeller University (1981) under Professor Nicola Khuri. Afterwards he worked with Professor Yakir Aharonov of Tel Aviv University.

Prof. Albert has published two books (Quantum Mechanics and Experience (1992) and Time and Chance (2000) and numerous articles on quantum mechanics. His books are both praised and criticized for their informal, conversational style, but he is routinely credited by both fan and critic as having a talent for communicating difficult, highly abstract concepts in ways that are accessible to the lay science reader. He specializes in philosophical problems of quantum mechanics, philosophy of space and time, and philosophy of science.

 


Julian Barbour Is a British theoretical physicist with research interests in quantum gravity and the history of science.

His 1999 The End of Time advances an account of timeless physics: the controversial view that time, as we perceive it, does not exist as anything other than a deep-rooted illusion created in the first place by consciousness, and that a number of problems in physical theory arise from  assuming that time does exist. He argues that we have no evidence of the past other than records and our memory of it, and no evidence of the future other than our belief in it. “Change merely creates an illusion of time, with each individual moment existing in its own right, complete and whole.” He calls these moments “Nows”. All else is an illusion: there is no motion, only difference between “Nows”. He argues that the belief in time arises from our interpretation of what he calls “time capsules,” which are “any fixed pattern that creates or encodes the appearance of motion, change or history.” The philosopher J. M. E. McTaggart reached a similar conclusion in his 1908 The Unreality of Time. And in one of his last letters, Einstein wrote “People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubborn, persistent illusion.”

Barbour also researches Machian physics, a related field. The Machian approach requires physics to be constructed from directly observable quantities. In standard analytical dynamics a system’s future evolution can be determined from a state consisting of particle positions and momenta (or instantaneous velocities). However, the positions and momenta are defined relative to an invisible external inertial frame of reference. In Barbour’s Machian approach, they are defined intrinsically. This leads to a characteristically different structure of physics, new insights into the nature of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and a unified Machian picture of physics.


Bernard Carr is Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL). His research interests include the early universe, dark matter, general relativity, primordial black holes, and the anthropic principle.

In 1976 he was elected to a fellowship at Trinity and he also became an advanced SERC Fellow at the Institute of Astronomy. In 1979 he was awarded a Lindemann Fellowship for postdoctoral research in America and spent a year working in various U.S. universities. In 1980 he took up a senior research fellowship at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge. In 1985 he moved to Queen Mary College (as it was then called) and became a professor in 1997.

He has held visiting professorships at Kyoto University, Tokyo University, and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and is a frequent visitor to other institutes in the United States and Canada. He is the author of more than two hundred scientific papers and his monograph, “Cosmological Gravitational Waves”, won the 1985 Adams Essay Prize.

He has been the co-holder of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation with Martin Rees and Neil Turok for a project entitled Fundamental Physics and the Problem of our Existence. This was used to support a series of conferences and he is the editor of a book—Universe or Multiverse?– based in part on these conferences.


Michael Della Rocca is the Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of Philosophy at Yale and immediate past chair of Yale’s Department of Philosophy. He is an authority on the history of early modern philosophy (particularly rationalism) and metaphysics, and is also interested in philosophy of mind and epistemology. He is the author of “Spinoza,” part of the Routledge Philosophers Series, and “Representation and the Mind-Body Problem in Spinoza.” He is the editor of “The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza.” His many articles have explored such topics as essentialism and judgment and will, as well as the philosophies of Spinoza. He has also written a number of reviews of books on philosophical issues.

A graduate of Harvard University, Della Rocca joined the Yale faculty in 1991 as an assistant professor after earning his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of California-Berkeley. He was named a full professor in 2000, and he chaired the Department of Philosophy from 2001 to 2010.

In 1998 he was honored with the Sarai Ribicoff Award for the Encouragement of Teaching at Yale College. His other honors include a Graduate Mentor Award from Yale in 2006, a Yale Morse Fellowship, an Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award from Berkeley and the William H. Fink Prize for the best essay by a graduate student in philosophy, also from Berkeley. He has been an invited speaker at a number of universities and conferences throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe and in Israel.

Among many other works he wrote “A Rationalist Manifesto: Spinoza and the Principle of Sufficient Reason,” Philosophical Topics 31, no. 1-2 (2003): 75-93; and “Causation without Intelligibility and Without God in Descartes” in The Blackwell Companion to Descartes.


George F.R. Ellis, widely considered one of the world’s leading theorists in cosmology, is the Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Complex Systems in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. From 1989 to 1992 he served as President of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation and is a past President of the International Society for Science and Religion. Dr. Ellis’s bold and innovative contributions to the dialogue at the boundary of theology and science led to his being named the 34th Templeton Prize Laureate. In 1999 he was awarded the Order of the Star of South Africa by Nelson Mandela, and in 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the British Royal Society.

He has advocated balancing the rationality of evidence-based science with faith and hope, a view shaped in part by his firsthand experiences in South Africa as it peacefully transformed from apartheid to multiracial democracy without succumbing to racial civil war. His work on the origin of the universe, evolution of complexity, the functioning of the human mind, and how and where they intersect with areas beyond the boundaries of science has been covered in such books as On the Moral Nature of the Universe, written with Nancey Murphy.

Ellis contends that there are many areas that cannot be accounted for by physics. Directly challenging the notion that the powers of science are limitless, Ellis notes the inability of even the most advanced physics to fully explain factors that shape the physical world, including human thoughts, emotions, and social constructions such as the laws of chess. He comments that this is not a claim on behalf of vitalism; rather it is a simple statement of fact about present-day science.

In 1973, Ellis co-wrote The Large Scale Structure of Spacetime with Stephen Hawking, debuting at a strategic moment in the development of General Relativity Theory. Dr. Ellis’s recent books include The Universe Around Us: An Integrative View of Science and Cosmology, which compares the natural and life sciences, and The Far-Future Universe, edited from the proceedings of a 2002 symposium at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences examining cosmological, biological, human, and theological aspects of the future.


Kit Fine is Silver Professor of Philosophy and Mathematics at New York University and a logician, metaphysician, and philosopher of mathematics, known especially for his contributions to modal logic and the metaphysics of essence. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Warwick in 1969 under the supervision of A. N. Prior. He is a former editor of the Journal of Symbolic Logic and a corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He previously taught for several years at UCLA. The author of several books and dozens of articles in international academic journals, he has made notable contributions to the fields of philosophical logic, metaphysics, and the philosophy of language and also has written on ancient philosophy, in particular on Aristotle’s account of logic and modality.

Since the revival of essentialism in the 1970s through the work of Saul Kripke in modal logic, it has been widely assumed that the concept of essence is to be explained through the concept of metaphysical necessity, which is in turn to be explicated in terms of the concept of truth in every possible world. Fine has argued that the proper direction of explanation is quite the reverse of this. To talk of something’s essence is to talk of its very nature or identity. Thus, water is essentially H2O, because it is in the very nature of any chemical compound to be composed in the way that it is. This is why it is metaphysically necessary that water is H2O. In the philosophy of mathematics, Fine has developed a general theory of abstraction which provides a foundation for number theory and analysis.


Frank Griffel is Professor of Religious Studies & Chair of the Council for Middle East Studies at Yale. After studying philosophy, Arabic literature, and Islamic studies at universities in Göttingen, Damascus, Berlin, and London, he received his Ph.D. in 1999 from the Free University in Berlin. In his thesis he wrote about the development of the judgment of apostasy in classical Islam. After that he worked as a research fellow at the Orient Institute of the German Oriental Society in Beirut, Lebanon. In 2000 he began teaching courses at Yale on the intellectual history of Islam, its theology (both classical and modern), and the way Islamic thinkers react to Western modernity.

In his research he deals with very similar issues. Much of his published work covers the contribution that al-Ghazali made to the development of Islamic theology and the history of philosophy, be it written in Arabic, Latin, or Hebrew. Al-Ghazali lived at the turn of the 12th century in what is now Iran and Iraq. He marks one of the turning points of Islamic thought, when the role of major intellectual movements such as the Arabic tradition of Aristotelianism (falasfa) and Islamic mysticism (Sufism) was reassessed, and the way he integrated these two traditions into mainstream Islam is still, despite its importance, not well understood. He recently published Al-Ghazali’s Philosophical Theology, where he studied his life and the way he made philosophical metaphysics and cosmology compatible with Muslim theology. In previous books he studied the development of the judgment of apostasy in Islam (Apostasie und Toleranz in Islam), and he translated a work by al-Ghazali (the Faysal al-tafriqa) into German. Together with Abbas Amanat he edited a volume on the role of Shari’a (Islamic law) in contemporary debates within Islam. In 2007 he was awarded a Carnegie Fellowship. He is currently finishing a two-year research project on the continuation of the Arabic philosophical tradition (falsafa) within Muslim theology supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

 


John Hare is a British classicist, philosopher, ethicist, and currently Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale Divinity School. Prior to teaching at Yale, he taught at Calvin College and at Lehigh University. He has been visiting fellow in the humanities at the Medical College of Pennsylvania and visiting assistant professor at the University of Michigan. Additionally, he has been a Congressional Fellow of the American Philosophical Association and staff associate for the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives. Professor Hare has held the senior fellowship at the Center for Philosophy of Religion and Erasmus Institute at the University of Notre Dame.

Among his many writings are the following books: Why Bother Being Good (2002), God’s Call (2001), The Moral Gap (1997), Ethics and International Affairs (with Carey B. Joynt) (1982), and Plato’s Euthyphro (1981). He has authored numerous articles, book reviews and papers.

Professor Hare has created an ethical theory integrating Kantian deontological ethics with utilitarian consequentialism. His philosophy is specifically Christian and includes elements of divine command theory. He argues that God’s assistance is necessary to meet the moral demand of which God is the source. His interests include ancient philosophy, medieval Franciscan philosophy, Kant, Kierkegaard, contemporary ethical theory, the theory of the atonement, medical ethics, international relations and aesthetics.

In addition to being the Gifford Lecturer (2005), he has been the Calvin Lecturer (1999–2000), and the Stob Lecturer (1999). In 1997, Dr. Hare was the recipient of the Institute for Advanced Christian Studies Book Prize; in 1991–1992, he received the Pew Evangelical Fellowship. He received the Junior Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (1981).


Michael Heller is a professor of philosophy at The Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow, Poland, and an adjunct member of the Vatican Observatory staff. He also serves as a lecturer in the philosophy of science and logic at the Theological Institute in Tarnów. A Roman Catholic priest belonging to the diocese of Tarnów, Dr. Heller was ordained in 1959.

After beginning his teaching career at Tarnów, he joined the faculty of the Pontifical Academy of Theology in 1972 and was appointed to a full professorship in 1985. The recipient of an honorary degree from the Cracow University of Technology, he has been a visiting professor at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and a visiting scientist at Belgium’s University of Liège, the University of Oxford, the University of Leicester, Ruhr University in Germany, The Catholic University of America, and the University of Arizona among others. Dr. Heller is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

His current research is concerned with the singularity problem in general relativity and the use of noncommutative geometry in seeking the unification of general relativity and quantum mechanics. He has published nearly 200 scientific papers not only in general relativity and relativistic cosmology, but also in philosophy and the history of science and science and theology and is the author of more than 20 books. In his volume Is Physics an Art? he writes about mathematics as the language of science and also explores such humanistic issues as beauty as a criterion of truth, creativity, and transcendence.

In March 2008, Heller was awarded the Templeton Prize for his extensive philosophical and scientific probing of “big questions.” His works have sought to reconcile the “known scientific world with the unknowable dimensions of God.” Heller plans on spending the prize money on the establishment of a research institute named after Nicholas Copernicus aimed at reconciling science and theology.


Barry Loewer is a philosopher at Rutgers University, Chairperson of its Department of Philosophy, and director of the Rutgers Center for Philosophy and the Sciences. He obtained his BA from Amherst College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from Stanford. He has published in many areas of philosophy including philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, history of philosophy, philosophical logic, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science. He is especially known for work on mental causation, the metaphysics of laws and chance, and the interpretation of quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics. Over the last decade he has been developing an account of laws, counterfactuals and objective probabilities based on David Lewis’ pioneering work. Loewer has collaborated with Marvin Belzer (on deontic logic), Ernest Lepore (on philosophy of language), and David Albert (on the interpretation of quantum mechanics and the role of chance in statistical mechanics). In his work with Albert he is known for developing the “many-minds interpretation” of quantum theory. The point of this work has been less to advocate that view and more to argue that many worlds’ interpretations need to be modified to accommodate probabilities. Recently Loewer has become interested in the philosophy of cosmology.


Tim Maudlin is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers University. His areas of research include the philosophy of science, philosophy of physics, and metaphysics. He is the author of Quantum Non-Locality and Relativity: Metaphysical Intimations of Modern Physics and Truth and Paradox: Solving the Riddles.

 

 


Jill North is an associate professor in the philosophy department at Cornell. Her research interests include philosophy of physics, metaphysics, and philosophy of science.  Before working at Cornell, she was an Assistant Professor in the philosophy department at Yale, where as an undergraduate she had studied physics and philosophy. Before working at Yale she was a Bersoff post-doc in the philosophy department at NYU, and before that, a graduate student in philosophy at Rutgers.

 

 


Priyamvada Natarajan is a professor in the departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University. She is noted for key contributions to two of the most challenging problems in cosmology: mapping dark matter and dark energy as well as tracing the accretion history of black holes. Her work using gravitational lensing techniques has provided a deeper understanding of the granularity of dark matter in clusters of galaxies. She has developed theoretical models to describe the assembly and accretion history of black holes as well as the formation of seed black holes in the Universe.

Priya has undergraduate degrees in Physics and Mathematics from M.I.T. She did her graduate work in theoretical astrophysics at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge in England, where she was a member of Trinity College and was elected to a Title A Research Fellowship that she held from 1997 to 2003. Prior to coming to Yale, she was a visiting postdoctoral fellow for a few months at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Toronto, Canada. She is interested in the History and Philosophy of Science and has been enrolled in the graduate program at the MIT Program in Science, Technology & Society (1991-93 and in Spring 2011).

Priya was awarded the Emeline Conland Bigelow Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University in 2008. In 2009, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Priya was also the 2009 recipient of the India Abroad Foundation’s “Face of the Future ” Award and the recipient of the award for academic achievement from the Global Organization for the People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). Priya was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2009, the American Physical Society in 2010, and the Explorers Club in 2010. She was awarded a JILA (Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics) Fellowship in 2010. In 2011 she was awarded an India Empire NRI award for Achievement in the Sciences in New Delhi, India. She will be the Caroline Herschel Distinguished Visitor at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore for 2011-2012. In addition to her current appointment at Yale, she also holds the Sophie and Tycho Brahe Professorship, Dark Cosmology Center, Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


L.A. Paul is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. There she specializes in metaphysics and philosophy of mind, focusing on questions concerning perception, time, temporal experience, identity, constitution, with special interest in phenomenology and the nature of experience, perception, the ontology of mental states, the philosophy of cognitive science, mereology, causation, constitution and essence. She also has interests in philosophical methodology, cognitive science, aesthetics, and the philosophy of science. She received her M.A. and Ph.D in Philosophy from Princeton University and BA from Antioch College. She has been Assistant Professor and Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Arizona; a Research Fellow in Philosophy at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Research School of Social Sciences at Austrailian National University, and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Yale. Her publications include: “Aspect Causation,” Journal of Philosophy (2000), “Logical Parts,” Noûs (2002), “The Context of Essence,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy (2004), “Coincidence as Overlap,” Noûs (2006), “In Defense of Essentialism,” Philosophical Perspectives (2006), “Constitutive Overdetermination,” Topics in Contemporary Philosophy IV (2007), “Temporal Experience,” Journal of Philosophy (2010). She is the co-editor of Causation and Counterfactuals (2004), with Collins and Hall, and is nearly finished writing Causation: A User’s Guide, with Ned Hall.


Joel Primack is a Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He specializes in the formation and evolution of galaxies and the nature of the dark matter, which makes up most of the matter in the universe. He is one of the principal originators and developers of the theory of Cold Dark Matter.  This theory has become the basis for the standard modern picture of the universe at the large scale.

With support from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Energy, he is currently using supercomputers to simulate and visualize the evolution of the universe, and comparing the resulting predictions to the latest observational data.
He is currently the director of the University of California High-Performance Astro-Computing Center, which he founded in 2010.

Dr. Primack was made a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) in 1988 “for pioneering contributions to gauge theory and cosmology.”  He was a member of the Executive Committee of the APS Division of Astrophysics 2000-2002 and of the APS Panel on Public Affairs 2002-2004, and he was chair of the APS Forum on Physics and Society 2005-2006.
 He served on the National Academy of Sciences “Beyond Einstein” study conducted in 2006 and 2007.

Dr. Primack was co-author with Frank von Hippel of Advice and Dissent: Scientists in the Political Arena (1974) and co-founded the Union of Concerned Scientists and the AAAS Program on Science and Human Rights. In 1995 he was made a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) “for pioneering efforts in the establishment of the AAAS Congressional Science Fellows Program and for dedication to expanding the use of science in policymaking throughout government.”  He served on the board of the Federation of American Scientists and as chair of the AAAS committee on Science, Ethics, and Religion 2000-2002.

In 2006 he and Nancy Ellen Abrams authored The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos, followed this year by The New Universe and the Human Future: How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World (2011), the latter based on their 2009 Terry Lectures at Yale.


Martin Rees is Britain’s most eminent cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995 and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge since 2004. He was President of the Royal Society between 2005 and 2010.

Rees is the author of more than 500 research papers, and he has made important contributions to the origin of cosmic microwave background radiation, as well as to galaxy clustering and formation. His studies of the distribution of quasars led to final disproof of Steady State theory. He was also one of the first to propose that enormous black holes power quasars and that superluminal astronomical observations can be explained as an optical illusion caused by an object moving partly in the direction of the observer. He is also a well-respected author of books on astronomy and science intended for the lay public. In 2010 he was chosen to deliver the Reith Lectures for the BBC. Rees believes the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence has a good chance of finding evidence of life.

Among his many honors and awards are the following: 1975, H. P. Robertson Award and Lectureship, National Academy of Science; 1982, Hopkins Prize, Cambridge Philosophical Society; 1989, Guthrie Medal and Prize, Institute of Physics; 1989, Karl Schwarzschild Award of Astronomisch Gesellschaft; 1991, Officer dans l’Order des Arts et des Lettres; 1998, Bower Prize and Award for Science, Franklin Institute; 2003, Einstein Award of World Cultural Council; 2004, Faraday Award (Royal Society); 2005, Life Peerage; 2005, Niels Bohr Medal (UNESCO); Templeton Prize (2011).


Arvind Sharma is currently the Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill University in Montreal. In 1962, Sharma joined the Indian Administrative Service, serving in Gujarat until 1968. In 1971 he received an M.A. from Syracuse University and in 1974 earned a Masters in Theology from Harvard University. In 1978 he obtained his Ph.D. in Sanskrit from Harvard University. In 1976 he was appointed to the position of Lecturer in Asian Religions at the University of Queensland and in 1980 he took a similar position at the University of Sydney.

In 1987, Sharma took the position of Associate Professor of Religious Studies at McGill University in Montreal. Sharma was the first Infinity Foundation Visiting Professor of Indic Studies at Harvard. He has held fellowships at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Center for the Study of World Religions, the Brookings Institute, the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life, and the Center for Business and Government. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Sharma currently writes two blogs entitled “Indological Provocations” and “The Comparative Study of Religion”.



Janet Soskice
is Professor of Philosophical Theology and a Fellow of Jesus College, University of Cambridge. She was born in British Columbia, and studied at Cornell and Sheffield, prior to doing a doctorate in the philosophy of religion (religious language) at Oxford University. While the Gordon Milburn Junior Research Fellow and subsequently as a lecturer at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, she taught philosophy of religion, ethics and doctrine at Oxford University and philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London. She is a past-President of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain and is currently President of the Society for the Study of Theology. She has been a visiting professor in Canada, Sweden and the United States and in 1997 was a McCarthy Visiting Professor at the Gregorian University in Rome. She is a past Board member of the international Catholic journal, Concilium, and is currently a member of the board of Modern Theology. Dr. Soskice is actively involved with the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, a Catholic house of study for women within the Cambridge Theological Federation, with Jewish-Christian relations, and with Anglican-Roman Catholic ecumenical discussions amongst other commitments. She is the author of Metaphor and Religious Language (O.U.P. 1984); The Kindness of God (O.U.P. 2007) and has edited (with Grant Gillett and K.W. Fulford), Medicine and Moral Reasoning (C.U.P , 1994) and with Diana Lipton, Feminism and Theology, Oxford Readings in Feminism (OUP, 2003). Her most recent book is Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Lost Gospels (Chatto, March 2009 and Knopf, summer 2009). She is currently editing, with Carlo Cogliati, David Burrell and Bill Stoeger, S.J., Creation and the God of Abraham, papers from a conference at the Vatican Observatory on creatio ex nihilo, in science and the three Abrahamic faiths.


A. Douglas Stone is Carl A. Morse Professor and Chairman of Applied Physics, and Professor of Physics at Yale University, having joined the faculty in 1986. From 2004-2009 he was Director of the Divisional Committee of the Physical Sciences at Yale. A theoretical physicist working in solid-state and optical/laser physics, he is specifically interested in theoretical issues relating to physics and electronics on the nanoscale, and in micro-lasers and other optical devices for integrated optical circuits, analyzed using the tools of quantum theory and non-linear dynamics (chaos theory). He is the author of over 100 research and review articles in these areas and holds four patents for optical devices. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Optical Society of America, and is an Honorary General Member of the Aspen Center for Physics.

He received his BA is Social Studies from Harvard College in 1976 and then a second BA in Physics and Philosophy in 1978 from Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar before earning his PhD from MIT in solid-state physics in 1983. He has authored several articles on the history of science and popular science and is currently nearing completion of a popular book, Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian, to be published by Princeton University Press. He is married to Mary Schwab-Stone, a professor of child psychiatry at Yale who is also currently working toward a master’s degree in religious studies at the Yale Divinity School.


Kathryn Tanner, the Frederick Marquand Professor of Systematic Theology, has been a faculty member at Yale Divinity School since July, 2010. She began her career at Yale University. She later moved to the University of Chicago Divinity School, where she served as the Dorothy Grant Maclear Professor of Theology. She is a past president of the American Theological Society, and is a member of the Theological Committee that advises the Episcopal House of Bishops.

Tanner practices constructive Christian theology in the Protestant tradition. Her works addresses contemporary challenges to the Christian faith through the creative use of both the history of Christian thought and interdisciplinary methods, such as critical, social, and feminist theory.

Her first book, God and Creation in Christian Theology, develops an account of noncompetitive relations between God and creatures. Her next book, The Politics of God, applies her general understanding of creation and providence to the political sphere. Her book Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology explores the relevance of cultural studies for rethinking theological method. She has also written a short systematic theology centering on the Incarnation and a text on the economic relevance of Christian beliefs about God. Tanner’s most recent book is Christ the Key.


Denys Turner is a British academic in the field of philosophy and theology. He is currently Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology at Yale University having been appointed in 2005, previously having been Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University.

He has done extensive work on the study of the traditions of Western Christian mysticism, with emphasis on doctrines of religious language and of selfhood and on the links between the classical traditions of spirituality and mysticism and the social and political commitments of Christianity, with some reference to questions of the nature of religious language and post-modernity. His book Eros and Allegory is a study of the traditions of erotic discourse within mediaeval monastic commentaries on the Song of Songs. The Darkness of God, which is a study of the via negativa in the traditions of mystical theology in the mediaeval and early modern periods, was published in September, 1995. Together they amount to a survey of both affirmative and negative traditions of late patristic and mediaeval spiritualities in the Latin West.

In 2002 he published Faith Seeking, a collection of sermons and talks delivered over the previous fifteen years or so. His most recent publication is a monograph Faith, Reason and the Existence of God, completes a sort of trilogy with Eros and Allegory and The Darkness of God, in that it is an attempt to demonstrate that there is no inconsistency between the conception of theology as ‘mystical’ (and vice-versa) and that of a ‘rational’ doctrine of God.


Peter  van Inwagen is the John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Previously he taught at Syracuse University. His publications have focused on metaphysics and philosophical theology. His defense of incompatibilism–the thesis that free will and determinism are incompatible–has contributed significantly to the acceptance of that thesis in analytic philosophy.

His books include: An Essay on Free Will (1983); Material Beings (1990); Metaphysics (1993); God, Knowledge, and Mystery (1995); The Possibility of Resurrection and Other Essays in Christian Apologetics (1997); Ontology, Identity, and Modality (2001); and The Problem of Evil (2006).

He was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005. Besides the Gifford Lectures in St Andrews (2003), he has delivered the F. D. Maurice Lectures at the University of London (1999), the Wilde Lectures on Natural Religion at Oxford University (2000), the Stewart Lectures at Princeton University (2002) and the Jellema Lectures at Calvin College (2004).

In June 2011 he was awarded the degree Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) by the University of St Andrews.

His 1983 monograph An Essay on Free Will played an important role in rehabilitating incompatibilism in mainstream analytical philosophy. His central argument for incompatibilism (the Consequence Argument) can be summarized as follows: “If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Therefore, the consequences of those things (including our present acts) are not up to us.”


James Clement van Pelt co-founded Yale’s Initiative in Religion, Science & Technology (IRST) in 2003 and since then has served as its program coordinator, bringing nearly a hundred prominent speakers to Yale and sponsoring working groups in relevant subject areas. He received his Master of Arts in Religion (magna cum laude) from the Yale School of Divinity in 2003 and was a research fellow there from 2003 to 2005 and lecturer there in 2005 and 2007. Since 2003 he has served as the Yale presence at major U.S. conferences on consciousness studies and the science-religion encounter. His specializations include spiritual anthropology, theologies of technology, synchronicity studies, and consciousness studies. In 2008 he presented the “Consciousness and Spirit” conference of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness (AAA branch). He is a co-founder of the Synchro Project (synchroproject.org) and co-presented its major event in 2010 at Yale, the international Synchro Summit. He has authored, coauthored, and contributed to various books and articles, most recently a chapter of Different Cultures, One World: Dialogue Between Christians and Muslims on the Role of Technology in Our Global Society (Amsterdam: Rozenberg Publishers, March 2010) and articles on synchronicity for Psychiatric Annals and on Polanyian technology theory for the Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society. He holds a B.A. in religion from Duke University, has studied Christianity and culture at St. Andrews Presbyterian College and Earlham College, and co-founded the Center for Participant Education at Florida State University. He has written and spoken frequently on the spiritual implications of technology, drawing on his technologist positions including senior technology advisor for Connecticut public school districts; director of advanced solutions for Dun & Bradstreet; and personal technology consultant to American Express and other corporations and non-profits.


Dean W. Zimmerman is a professor of philosophy at Rutgers University and one of the leading and most influential figures in contemporary metaphysics. He specializes in metaphysics and the philosophy of religion. He earned his PhD in philosophy from Brown University, and has taught at the University of Notre Dame and Syracuse University. He is a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers. He is writing an introduction to the philosophy of religion for the series Princeton Foundations of Philosophy (Princeton U. P.); a book on the persistence of material objects and persons (Oxford U.P.), and papers on surviving death, the idea that God is “outside of time”, and the question whether nomic necessity might be necessity in the strongest sense (as Sydney Shoemaker contends). He directs a (currently biennial) summer workshop, “Metaphysical Mayhem”, which he started at the University of Notre Dame in 1996 (2010 was the 11th Mayhem). Since 2006, the workshop has been topical, and organized as a week-long seminar led by five professors for a group of thirty graduate students from all over the country.

He is co-organizer, with Michael Rota, of the St. Thomas Summer Seminars in Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology, convening in 2010, 2011, and 2012. He has been co-organizer, with Michael Rea, of the last two Logos philosophical theology workshops, supported by the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame and the Philosophy Department at Rutgers University.  The Logos meetings are interdisciplinary workshops that bring together philosophers, theologians, and other scholars of religion working on a specific topic in philosophical theology.  In 2009, the topic was the Incarnation; in 2010, it was Divine Action:  God, Chance, and Causation.

He is the author and editor of numerous books, including Metaphysics: The Big Questions (1998), The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics (2003), Persons: Human and Divine (2007), Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics (2008), and the Oxford Studies in Metaphysics series.

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