- Dr. Thomas Ryba is a senior lecturer and adjunct professor teaching philosophy and religious studies at the School of Interdisciplinary Studies in Purdue University’s College of Arts. He also holds the title of Notre Dame Theologian-in-Residence for the Aquinas Educational Foundation, offering instruction and guidance on staff at the Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center at Purdue.
- Ryba kindly adjusted his schedule to meet with Paul and Bill in December 2019 for an interview about themes central to his 30 years of teaching in service to students and faculty and his enduring interest in the connections between the learning of science and religion.
- We discussed trends which suggest today’s cultural and academic emphasis on science-based knowledge draws young people away from their interest in religious insights and practices. He said that, while he’s seen a doubling in the proportion of students who come to college having received no substantive knowledge of traditional faiths, a sizable percentage of people engaged in the hard sciences at Purdue are actively interested in religion. He added he observes a strong ethos of welcoming of diverse people of faith on the campus.
- Ryba is among those planning an academic conference which this year will explore links between articificial intelligence and human consciousness, including ethics for robots.
- His convictions about a long-standing complementarity of insights from science and faith echo his own graduate research, which explored analogs between Girardian mathematical group theory and an understanding of the Holy Trinity in Christian belief.
- In our TSSM interview, Ryba spoke of a Purdue graduate whose studies of physics and electrical engineering have gone hand-in-hand with his preparation for the Jesuit priesthood. Rev. Luis Jimenez, SJ, continues his academic work at the University of Puerto Rico while serving as a priest and lecturing throughout Latin America, he said.
- Today's episode is getting recorded in a tight slot on Sunday night. Bill is out of town at a workshop on self-publishing and Paul has spent an awful lot of time over the last three days peering into the engine bay of a 1987 Jeep Wrangler and screwing and unscrewing things.
- Robert Barron and Brandon Vogt pulled excerpts from the Joe Rogen - Dawkins interview and spent two weeks rebutting them. That's one point of departure for today's episode. The other, of course, is that the feast of Albert the Great is this coming Friday, meaning Gold Mass season is at its frenzied (?) peak, and Albert the Great is one of the cast of figures who put together the great medieval synthesis of Catholic Christian thought with Aristotelian philosophy and science. I myself just finished a curious old book called Roman Science by William Stahl, and that will probably also be in the back of my head as I riff a bit. (Yes, for tonight I'm writing the liner notes first and attempting to monologue to fit them.)
- Bill has an ebook, hence the self-publishing drive: When Headlines Hurt, Do We Have a Prayer?
- Get up to date listings on Gold Mass locations and times!
Paul here. A short episode this week. We're taking a little time off to celebrate the milestone of releasing our last SCS 2019 conference speaker interview with Megan Levis last week.
The pace of interviews is likely to slow a bit, but we have several that we're looking forward to. Next week we have Fr John Hollowell, an engaging priest, campus minister, prison chaplain, blogger and social media personality here in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. We will be talking to Jonathan Lunine again soon to further explore his fascinating perspective. Bill is in discussions with John Cavadini, theologian at Notre Dame, and hopefully we will get the chance to explore some issues related to education and culture from a Catholic perspective. Paul is also getting ready to record the first version of a talk on faith and science in his own life that he hopes to begin giving at colleges and perhaps parishes, which we will release here as well.
Discussions are still underway for Gold Masses here in central Indiana. It's possible that Indiana University, IUPUI in Indianapolis, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and Purdue University might have Gold Masses, depending on whether more people get involved and help make the events happen.
Now some thoughts from Bill:
- Friends, this episode is a short, simple, heartfelt note befitting an approach that has been at the heart of “That’s So Second Millennium” right from its start nearly a year and half ago. The approach springs from the vision that prompted Dr. Paul Giesting to start this podcast and which resonated strongly with Bill Schmitt—yours truly, Paul’s co-host and the “show notes” writer.
- What is the vision? As Paul says at the beginning of each episode, “we look forward to the new synthesis in the new millennium between faith, philosophy and science.” We seek to celebrate continuous inquiry in all three fields by talking with great guests about how their own pursuits of knowledge and wisdom have brought deeper, broader insights from which we all can benefit. There’s good reason to pursue the benefit because this third millennium has brought us more challenging questions which must be addressed with a full toolkit for understanding.
- Inspired by our passion to spread updated, holistic, well-grounded understanding of many aspects of human life, visible and invisible, this podcast aims to generate authentic conversations with you, our listeners. The authenticity includes candor about another aspect of life in this millennium (or any millennium): It’s tough out there on Planet Earth. One must give voice to the frustrations marking our past, present and future as earthen vessels who are called to carry forward graces inextricably submerged in mystery. Paul’s inviting us to share the frustration and mystery with him in order to deepen our conversations.
- It’s our intention to continue expanding the conversations on our side of the podcast. If we don’t do that, there’s no chance to help achieve the synthesis that can bring greater happiness and healing in our very exciting world of cracked pots. Paul outlines some of our planned interviews and collaborations as an invitation for greater outreach on your side of the podcast. Let’s keep the amazing momentum of 77 episodes going and growing!
Bill and Paul discuss the upcoming SCS conference at Notre Dame, June 7-9, on “What Does It Mean To Be Human?”
Themes we discussed:
The question of human origins:
from the natural theology perspective… when did consciousness, qualia, free will appear?
From the perspective of Judeo-Christian revelation… how do the origin stories in Genesis compare to contemporary archeology and anthropology?
The question of evolution and its significance in a universe with divine providence.
The question of human modification through bio- and electronic technology.
All I've got time to share with you this week is the exciting news that we will be providing coverage of the Society of Catholic Scientists conference happening at the University Notre Dame from June 7-9. We will be sharing interviews with Stephen Barr, the president of the SCS, about the Society and the conference in the coming weeks, along with more interviews hopefully to come with speakers and other people involved in putting things together. Bill and I are excited about this chance to help out a group that we think is doing such important things by bringing Catholic scientists together!
In this episode we roll out a new format for Season 2.
We recap Season 1 (April 2018 - March 2019) and the three focus areas of the podcast so far:
- Discussion of the fundamentals of the question whether it's reasonable to believe in both science and the Catholic Christian faith, and some exploration of particular topics, like the role of geology in the interpretation of the book of Genesis.
- Review and comments on the speakers at the Society of Catholic Scientists Conference 2018.
- Interviews with scientists and scholars living out their Christian faith, many of whom are actively trying to spread the truth that the presumed conflict between science and religion is false, born from shoddy understandings, strawman arguments, and reactions against hypocrisy. Three of these people (Patricia Bellm, Chris Baglow, and Jay Martin) do this work at the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.
We then go on to discuss our plans for coming episodes, turning to topics of religion, spirituality, and psychology (including topics like child development and addiction) where the intersection of faith and science allows us to build new solutions or give tremendous new life to old solutions to the problems of human life.
What sense can we make of the ancient and medieval idea that "the soul is the form of the body" in the light of contemporary neuroscience and psychology?
Highlight this idea's differences from Platonic and Cartesian dualism.
History of psychology as a discipline. Psychology has not evolved (a) master paradigm(s) that compel the bulk of the field to adhere to them the way that plate tectonics did for geology, Newtonian classical physics and then quantum and relativity did for physics, etc.
Peace of Soul (Fulton Sheen) remark that psychology has been furtively recycling Christian ideas and passing them off as new for a long time
Examining the convergence points of the advice for living from the Bible and Tradition, modern psychology, and the contemporary self-help / New Age-y movement that continues to spread and adapt through large sectors of modern culture.
Confidence, faith, negative tapes...
Twelve Step spirituality (Richard Rohr and the intense overlap between 12 Step and Catholic spirituality)
Even many of us who are explicitly Christian have internalized a kind of Lutheran / Jansenist belief that we are so terrible that, in essence, God made a mistake in going to all this effort to save us, because we're not worth it. This is one of a number of areas in contemporary Catholic and Christian culture where we have let our understanding of Scripture and Tradition get very warped and imbalanced.
Issues surrounding how the Christian and scientific understanding of universal history could fit together.
What will "the end of the world" look like? Will it be the end of the whole universe or not? Will there be human colonies on other planets, orbiting other stars? How would the Apocalypse play out then?
You can find That's So Second Millennium at all of these places:
@infamousDrG on Twitter
That's So Second Millennium page on Facebook
giesting -at- alumni.nd.edu is Paul's email address
Please be in touch with your feedback, ideas for new episodes, and conversation of any kind!
Themes we'd like to grapple with in the Year of Our Lord, 2019, and beyond:
Last year was largely about the intellectual challenge leveled by many against religion, and we will continue talking about that as the podcast moves forward.
Paul's mission this year to work through Road to Reality
This year we also want to broaden the scope to include places where religion and faith converge, which means we're going to discuss psychology.
Looking forward to the SCS conference topic for this coming year: what it is, and has been, to be human. Neuroscience and what it implies for anthropology, and where it meets Catholic Christian anthropology coming the other way.
What is consciousness, anyway? What parts of the brain seem to be involved, and what do they do?
What is free will, anyway? Where are those breakpoints where the soul would have to affect the body in order for that to even work?
Crisis points in the way people in the post-Christian West approach the world.
Center for Ethics & Culture annual conference in 2018: Wilfred McClay & John Waters
"we care about everything, but without God... we have responsibility for everything, but we know that we are flawed and unable to provide solutions"
Post-Christian in this context includes both people who have explicitly renounced the Christian faith of the West and those who have a Christian identity in their back pocket somewhere but in reality are not relying on Jesus Christ or his teachings to guide their lives in any conscious way.
Christianity is a demanding religion. If you suck away all the grace and help it promises, but leave some of its demands for social justice or purity of intention, you have a recipe for constant internal condemnation.
Wilfred McClay (University of Oklahoma) on “Guilt in the Immanent Frame”, and John Waters on “The Importance of Not Being God: A Higher Power Is Indispensable for Human Beings and Human Societies”
No, not THAT John Waters.
We are changing some things for the new year. Bill and I have really enjoyed doing the podcast so far, and have gotten the chance to talk to some fascinating people. On January 7, we will have a new year's episode where we discuss new directions for the content of the podcast in the coming year.
In the meantime, enjoy the updated website format here at tssm.podbean.com. I think it looks a lot cleaner and better, and it gave me the excuse to put a photo of Kilauea Iki on the front page.
Finally, be on the lookout for our special episode on the Star of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve!