Dr. Allan Chapman presents Sept. 24 lecture on science and religion

Science and religion – friends or foes? This age-old question with heavily-debated answers on both sides will be the subject of Professor Allan Chapman’s annual lecture at Bemidji State University.

Chapman, a professor and member of the Faculty of History from Wadham College of Oxford University in England, presents an annual fall program at Bemidji State as the official kickoff to the university’s EuroSpring program. EuroSpring is Bemidji State’s oldest international study program, offered during the spring semester.

Chapman’s 2012 lecture is Sept. 24 in Hagg-Sauer Hall 100. The lecture will begin at 3 p.m. and is open to the public free of charge.

“Those people who have come to be styled the ‘New Atheists’ try to convince us that religion really belongs to an earlier phase of human development, and that nowadays science has taken its place as the yardstick of authority,” Chapman says. “They also claim that one cannot be a scientist and a committed religious person. On the other hand, there are living today scientists of the highest intellectual distinction, in sciences ranging from cosmology to medical research, who make no bones about their faith and cannot understand what the ‘New Atheists’ are getting so worked up about.”

Chapman’s lecture will explore whether anything has changed in the nature of scientific discovery to allow for the modern pervasiveness of atheistic interpretations of science that did not exist in the past. He also will examine whether modern discoveries in biology, brain science, cosmology and physics seriously undermine religious belief.

“Are religious modern scientists just fools who are so blind in their dogmatic brain-washing that they cannot see the bigger world beyond their test-tubes?” Chapman asks. “Or on the other hand, are the ‘New Atheists’ simply re-telling a worn-out tale which itself goes back centuries, and which they are trying to spice up with big helpings of rhetoric and ridicule?”

The topic is also the subject of Chapman’s upcoming book, “Slaying the Dragons: Destroying Myths in the History of Science and Religion,” to be published by Lion Hudson in early 2013.

EuroSpring originated in the mid 1970s, and over the decades hundreds of Bemidji State students have taken advantage of the benefits that international study brings through the program.

Chapman has been with EuroSpring from its inception, and his involvement has been one of its strongest components. His annual lecture is considered one of the highlights of the academic year at Bemidji State.

The main lecturer for EuroSpring, he is the author of “Mary Somerville and the World of Science.” He has made two television series, “Gods in the Sky” and “Great Scientists,” and has been featured on several BBC radio discussions on history.

He has served as visiting professor in the history of science at Gresham College, a 400-year-old London institution of considerable academic prestige, and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Central Lanchashire.

Chapman was invited by the Danish government and the Danish Crown to write on Danish scientific connections with China from 1600 to the present, and also was invited to lecture in Copenhagen in 2006 at the Nils Bohr Institute as part of the same project.

More information on the lecture and on EuroSpring is available by contacting Bemidji State’s International Program Center at (218) 755-4096.