SOURCE: California Science Center

October 26, 2006 18:23 ET

Are Science and Religion Compatible? Panel Discussion at the California Science Center November 4, 2006

LOS ANGELES, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 26, 2006 -- On November 4, 2006, the California Science Center's Science Matters speakers program "Religion on the Brain" will feature a neurologist presenting the latest findings in brain research about the neural processing of religious thought and experience. In light of this research, panelists will discuss how humans reconcile these different aspects of their brains in understanding of the world. The panelists will discuss the possibility that humans are genetically hard-wired for critical thinking and religious spirituality. Can we believe in science and still have faith? Conan Nolan, NBC4 reporter will serve as moderator for the panel discussion, which is free to the public, scheduled to take place from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. in the Loker Conference room at the California Science Center.

Panelists will include: Vilayanur Ramachandran, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at UC San Diego, a pioneer in experimental neurology, who found that patients who suffer seizures from temporal lobe epilepsy display an unusual obsession with religious matters; Joan Roughgarden, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Sciences, Stanford University and author of "Evolution and Christian Faith: Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist," who believes that evolution should not be portrayed as an enemy of faith; Warren Brown, Ph.D., neuroscientist and Director, Travis Research Institute and Professor of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary who writes and lectures on the integration of neuroscience and faith; and Michael Shermer, Ph.D., director of the Skeptics Society, author of "How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God" (2000). In Shermer's view, religious belief is biologically based and as science progresses it tends to supplant God.

Program participants will have a chance to hear the debates on this issue and to ask panelists questions at the end of the program. All those interested in attending may RSVP at 213-744-2420.

Neuroscience and Religion Background

As a result of advances in brain imaging technology, researchers are learning more about how different areas of the brain function based on their respective neural activity. In 1997, scientists discovered a particular area of the brain associated with intense religious experience, named by the popular media as the "God Spot." Neuroscientists claim that this discovery neither reduces religion to a brain function, nor does it prove that our brains are designed to receive the divine.

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