Today I joined Professor Aaron Burgess [someone actually called him "Dr. Burgess" today] as he participated in a panel discussion on religion at the UC Raymond Walters campus. He was the Protestant representative, as there were a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Catholic priest, and a Reform Jewish rabbi present. The audience was a group of senior citizens who were participating in a community education program. The subject was, "Can science and religion coexist?" Aaron is a dedicated student of theology and philosophy and is incredibly articulate. He did an excellent job of presenting instances where both religion and science are fanatical and suggested a balanced approach between the two is necessary. As for all the other participants, I'm still not sure what they were saying. I'm not even sure they knew where their faiths stood on the issue. How anyone could've gleaned anything useful from this dialogue is beyond me. But at least Aaron and I had some good laughs about it.
Among the things I observed:
- The elderly and cell phones: a scary combination. More phones rang there than would ever go off in a normal setting. Additionally, one of the older gentlemen on the panel even answered his phone in the middle of someone else's speech.
- The elderly and the worldwide web: an even scarier combination. A person repeatedly made the following statement: "You can find all this information on my email." He meant the internet.
- This dialogue confirmed to me that the mere presence of the Creation Museum hinders the conservative Christian position in our region. People assume that if you actually believe events in the Bible actually happened you agree with the AIG position.
- A Jewish rabbi nodding in approval of a statement from a Muslim imam. Wish I had a camera phone.
But perhaps the most impressive statement was made by the priest who said, "honestly, I don't think there's such a thing as a fundamentalist Catholic."