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Distinguished Science Lecture Series Archives

Origins & the Big Questions: Our 2008 Conference at Caltech

Origins and the Big Questions


  1. Dr. Leonard Susskind: The Origin of the Universe
  2. Dr. Paul Davies: The Origin of the “Fine-Tuned” Laws of Nature
  3. Dr. Sean Carroll: The Origin of Time and Time’s Arrow
  4. Dr. Donald Prothero: The Origin of Life and the Cambrian Explosion
  5. Dr. Christof Koch: The Origin of Brains, Minds, & Consciousness

Dr. Leonard Susskind is the discoverer of string theory, and the Felix Bloch Professor in theoretical physics at Stanford University. Dr. Paul Davies is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, author and broadcaster at Arizona State University where he is setting up a research institute to examine fundamental concepts in science. Dr. Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in Physics at the Caltech in theoretical physics, focusing on cosmology, field theory, particle physics, and gravitation. Dr. Donald Prothero is Professor of Geology at Occidental College and Lecturer in Geobiology at Caltech. He is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of 21 books and almost 200 scientific papers, and has served as an associate or technical editor for Geology, Paleobiology, and Journal of Paleontology. Dr. Christof Koch has a Ph.D. in (bio)-physics with a minor in Philosophy. After four years at MIT, he joined the California Institute of Technology, where he is the Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology. His laboratory focuses on experimental and computational research pertaining to neuronal correlates of selective visual attention and consciousness in the mammalian brain, a topic he worked on for nearly two decades with Francis Crick.

Does science make belief in God obsolete?
(cosponsored by the Templeton Foundation)

A dialogue moderated by Dr. Philip Clayton with:

  • Dr. Stuart Kauffman
  • Dr. Kenneth Miller
  • Dr. Nancey Murphy
  • Dr. Michael Shermer

Dr. Philip Clayton is Professor of Religion & Philosophy at Claremont Graduate University & Ingraham Professor at Claremont School of Theology, specializing in the intersection of science & religion. Dr. Stuart Kauffman is the founding director of the Institute for Biocomplexity & Informatics & a professor of biological sciences, physics, & astronomy at the University of Calgary. Dr. Kenneth Miller is a cell biologist is Professor of Biology at Brown University. He chairs the Education Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology & serves as an advisor on life sciences to the PBS television news program NewsHour. Dr. Nancey Murphy is Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary, a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences & an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. Dr. Michael Shermer is cofounder of the Skeptics Society, the Publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American.

Great God Debate:
Does Science Support Belief in a Deity?
(Dr. Hugh Ross v. Dr. Victor Stenger)

Dr. Hugh Ross has a Ph.D. in astronomy and was a research fellow in radio astronomy at Caltech in the 1970s. He is the founding director of Reasons to Believe, an international interdenominational science-faith think tank. Dr. Victor Stenger is emeritus professor of physics & astronomy at the University of Hawaii and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado.

Saturday Night Entertainment
Mr. Deity

Yes, that’s right, the Deity will be in attendance. Mr. Deity — the YouTube and Crackle sensation, will offer a humorous (and slightly irreverent) peek into the day-to-day operations of the universe and the Big Man in charge — a behind-the-scenes look at how Mr. Deity and his long-suffering assistant Larry, grapple with the complications of their new Creation. Mr. Deity (Brian Keith Dalton), Larry (Jimbo Marshall), Jesus/Jesse (Sean Douglas), and Lucy/Lucifer (Amy Rohren) will entertain us with clips and behind-the-scenes stories, along with discussing the more serious theological and philosophical issues raised in individual episodes. If you haven’t seen Mr Deity check it out here or just google “Mr. Deity.”

For more information and to register:

VISIT the conference website

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Detecting Baloney

Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.

FREE PDF Download

Wisdom of Harriet Hall

Top 10 Things to Know About Alternative Medicine

Harriet Hall M.D. discusses: alternative versus conventional medicine, flu fear mongering, chiropractic, vaccines and autism, placebo effect, diet, homeopathy, acupuncture, “natural remedies,” and detoxification.

FREE Video Series

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods.

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The Top 10 Weirdest Things

The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.

FREE PDF Download

Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and can you tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

FREE PDF Download

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Mind altering experiences are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

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Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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