Friday, April 7

7:00 P.M. Registration

7:30 P.M. Opening remarks by David Snoke, president of the CSS. “What is Human Exceptionalism?”

8:00 P.M. C. John Collins. “You are a Human Animal”

Theologians have offered several competing interpretations of “the image of God” in the Bible? How should we sort through the possibilities? And what bearing might this have on our thinking about human distinctiveness, and human origins? Does this have a role in the “public square”?

Bio: John (“Jack”) Collins, SB, SM, MDiv, PhD, Is Professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St Louis, Missouri. With degrees from MIT (SB, SM) and the University of Liverpool (PhD), he has been a research engineer, a church-planter, and, since 1993, a teacher. In addition to his early focus on Hebrew and Greek grammar, he also studies science and faith, how the New Testament uses the Old, and Biblical theology. During the 2016–17 academic year, he was a Senior Research Fellow at the Carl Henry Center for Theological Understanding of Trinity International University. His books include Science and Faith?: Friends or Foes?, Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care, and Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, And Theological Commentary.

8:45 P.M. Q&A

9:00  P.M. Jeffrey Schwartz. “Effects of Mindfulness on Brain Function”

Mindfulness is an ancient practice, originating in pre-Christian times, which has become popularized in recent years, often to the detriment of a proper understanding of what it is in it’s classical manifestation. This presentation will feature a data-driven argument for its now well documented effects on brain function, and also include basic instructions on what mindfulness practice is. The implications of mindfulness practice for psychological counseling in a Christian context, and its relevance to philosophical issues concerning the free will debate, will also be discussed.

Bio: Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. is Research Psychiatrist at UCLA School of Medicine and a seminal thinker and researcher in the field of self-directed neuroplasticity. He is the author of over 100 scientific publications in the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry, and several popular books, most recently You Are Not Your Brain: The 4-Step Solution for Changing Bad Habits, Ending Unhealthy Thinking, and Taking Control of Your Life.  He has been an active practitioner of mindfulness meditation for over 40 years, and has been engaged in practicing a Christian based form of mindfulness meditation for almost 10 years. He was baptized in a PCA church in 2008 and is a practicing Christian.

Saturday, April 8

8:30 A.M. Coffee and Bagels

9:00 A.M. Michael Egnor. “Neuroscience and Dualism”

Materialism and dualism are contrasting metaphysical perspectives on the mind-brain relationship. Modern neuroscience is generally done from a materialist perspective, without careful or even deliberate examination of the evidence that would support or undermine either materialism or dualism. Beginning in the 19th century, a number of seminal advances in neuroscience, properly understood, provide insight into the metaphysical basis for the mind-brain relationship. A careful examination of the scientific investigation of intellectual traits as posited by phrenology, of corpus callosotomy for the treatment of epilepsy, of Benjamin Libet’s research on brain activity and free will, of brain mapping during neurosurgery for epilepsy, and of functional MRI imaging in persistent vegetative state clearly suggests that material activity of the brain is necessary, but not sufficient, for rational powers of the human mind. There is substantial scientific evidence that brain function modifies, but does not generate, intellect and will. Dualism, not materialism, is supported by modern neuroscience.

Bio: Dr. Michael Egnor is a tenured research professor of neurosurgery at Stony Brook University. He majored in biochemistry at Columbia College, and attended medical school at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. He trained in neurosurgery at the University of Miami, and joined the neurosurgical faculty at Stony Brook in 1991. He is director of pediatric neurosurgery at Stony Brook Medical Center and is active in teaching and research at Stony Brook medical school. His research entails investigation of pulsatile cerebral blood flow and cerebrospinal fluid dynamics in hydrocephalus and head trauma. He has published and lectured extensively in North America and Europe on his scientific research and on the philosophical foundations of neuroscience. Dr. Egnor was baptized in the Catholic Church fifteen years ago, and has been active in the pro-life movement and in Christian evangelization. He is faculty advisor for the Medical Students for Life at Stony Brook, and lectures on pro-life issues at medical schools across the United States. He is also faculty advisor for the Christian Medical and Dental Association at Stony Brook.

9:45 A.M. Q&A

10:00 A.M. Kevin Birdwell. “Understanding Climate Change Factors”

What variables affect climate change?  Are they natural?  Manmade?  Both?  Do greenhouse gases provide the sole basis for modern climate concerns?  Or are their other important factors to consider?  How does the need for large sources of energy to power society affect the climate debate?  Finally, how do we approach these issues ethically?

Bio:  Kevin Birdwell received a PhD in physical geography, with emphasis in meteorology and environmental change, from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2011. He also holds a BS and an MS in geography, with an emphasis in remote sensing and math, from Murray State University, as well as an AA in the Bible from Evangel University. Kevin is a member of the American Meteorological Society and the Nuclear Utilities Meteorological User’s Group (American Nuclear Society). He has 30 years of experience in meteorological operations and research, focusing on areas of complex terrain meteorology, dispersion modeling, air quality, and Quaternary paleoclimate. His dissertation research described the interaction of winds in complex terrain and how to categorize and predict such flows in terms of the underlying atmospheric physics. Kevin currently manages an operational meteorology program in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and also teaches earth and space science part-time for the Department of Adult and Online Learning at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee.  He has also been a Christian apologist in areas of earth science and meteorology since the mid-90s.

10:45 A.M. Q&A

11:00 A.M. Jerry Bergman.  “Was Hitler’s Holocaust Influenced by Darwin?”

A common assumption is that the Holocaust originated by, and was carried out by, Adolf Hitler, due to his anti-Semitic beliefs. In fact, the linkage from Darwin to Hitler has been carefully traced by an extensive paper trail. We know that Adolf Hitler was a voracious reader. When he was incarcerated in 1923, Hitler read, among other books, the two-volume work, Principles of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene first published in 1921. This book effectively laid down the groundwork for the Holocaust and influenced Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The Principles book was co-written by three leading eugenics Professors, Eugen Fischer, Erwin Baur and Fritz Lenz, all of whom were openly influenced by Darwin and Darwin’s disciples. Furthermore, the connection between Darwin and Hitler has been carefully documented by several leading scholars, which are reviewed in this paper.

Bio: Dr. Bergman teaches biology, biochemistry, and anatomy at Northwest State College in Archbold, Ohio, and is an adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Toledo Medical College.  He has 9 degrees, including a doctorate from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. His over 1,000 publications are in both scholarly and popular science journals.  Dr. Bergman’s work has been translated into 13 languages including French, German, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Polish, Czech, Chinese, and Swedish.His books and, or books that include chapters that he authored, are in over 1,500 college libraries in 26 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 38 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print.

11:45 A.M. Q&A

12:00 PM Nik Melchior. “Machine Emulation of Human Thought”

Artificial intelligence promises the development of computers with the same capabilities of cognition, perception, and problem-solving as their human inventors.  Recent applications include self-driving cars, robots that work in factories, and computers able to best humans in games like Jeopardy, Chess, and Go.  This talk will present an accessible introduction to common techniques and paradigms in the study of artificial intelligence and machine learning.  The significance of newsworthy AI systems will be examined, as well as the perceived threat of superhuman intelligence that does not share our morality.

Bio: Nik Melchior received his masters in computer science from Washington University in St. Louis and his Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. He is presently Senior Roboticist at SEEGRID in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has 20 formal publications on robotics and artificial intelligence.

12:45 P.M. Q&A

1:00 P.M. Pizza lunch 

2:15 P.M. Full members meeting (closed to the public)