Let's merge conflicting fields

Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: taxonomy_term in similarterms_taxonomy_node_get_terms() (line 518 of /var/www/vhosts/bethelightdev.org/leprovoc/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 0 in similarterms_list() (line 221 of /var/www/vhosts/bethelightdev.org/leprovoc/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 1 in similarterms_list() (line 222 of /var/www/vhosts/bethelightdev.org/leprovoc/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
Kristina Wyman's picture
Aerin Toskas

Assumption College had a distinguished guest speaker for the Rabbi Joseph Klein Lecture on Monday, October 26. Dr. Alan Mittleman, a stand out scholar in his field, focuses especially on the interface between philosophy, science, theology and politics.

“[My purpose] is not to disparage or discourage science… it is only to highlight issues of deep humanistic and religious concern,” said Mittleman.

In other words, he wants to start a conversation between scientists, theologians and the people of the world on what personhood means.

“[We live] in an age of genetically engineered and technologically enhanced human cyborgs,” said Mittleton.

The lecture was opened by Professor Daniel Maher, director of the Ecumenical Institute on campus and philosophy chair, who neatly summarized the mission of the Rabbi Joseph Klein Lecture.

“The purpose of the lectureship, is to bring an outstanding scholar who perpetuates the interfaith dialogue in keeping with Rabbi Klein’s work in Worcester,” said Maher.

Klein worked for years in Worcester to foster the relationship between the Jewish and Christian communities. Without his work, this lectureship would not have been possible. Maher then went on to introduce Mittleman and his impressive body of work.

Mittleman took the podium and began to speak, though he didn’t seem to be raising his voice, his words still carried throughout the room. During his hour-long lecture, he focused on the tension found in the difficulty of defining personhood, or an individual’s sense of self in the modern world. In his words, the neuroscience community specifically, operates on the premise that “we are our brains.”

If we are our brains, and our brains are information, if that information can be saved in a special piece of technology, then we can be saved too. Mittleman contrasts this with the traditional and religious concepts of immortality, which is based in the existence of the soul.

Ian Burns, a sophomore science major, attended the lecture and wasn’t disappointed.

“I was expecting to gain a different perspective on science and the ethics of certain things science is doing today,” said Burns. “I am a science major, so I was surprised that there were some things I agreed with him on. I agree with him that there are lines that science should not cross, such as was discussed in the neuroscience part of the lecture. I thought he did a good idea of appealing to both the professors there to watch the lecture and the undergraduates that were there as well. The lecture did make me more interested in the topics discussed, and maybe if I have some time I will research some of the topics on my own.”

Theology Professor Father Barry Bercier also thought Mittleman did a great job and credits the success of the lecture series to the strong relationship that Klein developed with the Assumption community.

“I have my own theory on this question of science, and the belief that it can explain everything,” said Bercier.

This idea that science and theology have a very narrow way of looking at the world was apparent in points made throughout the lecture.

“Dr. Mittleman does not attack science, but listens to it and aims to present an understanding of our selves that rings true in a scientific age,” said Maher.

He calls for a common ground between the conflicting fields of science and philosophy.

“The properties of composites are not identical with the properties of their parts…[and] wholes are often greater than the sums of their parts,” Mittleman stated.

Overall, the lecture was a success for the Ecumenical Institute at Assumption College.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet