Vatican Conferences

In July 1996 the Vatican Observatory, in association with the Berkeley-based Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, held an international conference on the theme of evolution. The conference, which took place in the pope's summer residence, Castel Gandolfo (outside Rome), was the fourth in a series based around the overall theme of "Divine Action". Over the past decade the Divine Action conferences (which are held every two years), have been bringing together scientists, philosophers, and theologians from around the world.

Each conference has a specific scientific theme, and participants present papers on how these scientific themes are relevant to theological and religious questions. The theme of the first conference was physics, philosophy, and theology; the next was chaos and complexity; the third was quantum cosmology; the fourth was evolution; the fifth conference (held in July 1998) was focused around the brain/mind problem; and the next conference (to be held in 2000) will be on the theme of quantum mechanics. At the evolution conference, participants considered both the biological evolution of life on earth, and the evolution of the cosmos as a whole. All agreed that, in essence, an evolutionary perspective was commensurate with a Christian world view. The papers from this conference have been published as a book "Evolutionary and Molecular Biology: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action", which is an excellent resource for anyone interested in exploring this subject more seriously.

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