CORES2023: 'Let There Be Light': Religion and the Birth of Modern Science

Event description

  • Academic events
  • Family friendly
  • Open to the public
  • Science
  • Sustainability

Did key ideas in religious thought ultimately prove critical to the birth of science? Could recognizing the religious roots of modern science promote better engagement of religion and science today? 


About the Panelists



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Jameel Sadik "Jim" Al-Khalili (PhD, University of Surrey) is a quantum physicist, New York Times bestselling author and BBC host. He currently holds a Distinguished Chair in physics and a University Chair in the public engagement in science at the University of Surrey. One of the world’s leading authorities on nuclear reaction theory of light exotic nuclei, Al-Khalili was elected Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 2000. He has published over a hundred papers in nuclear physics, quantum mechanics and quantum biology. In addition to his academic publications, Al-Khalili is also a prominent author and broadcaster. He has written 14 books on popular science and the history of science that have been translated into twenty-six languages. His most recent book, “The World According to Physics” (2020), was shortlisted for the Royal Society Book Prize. He is a regular presenter of TV science documentaries, such as the Bafta nominated Chemistry: A Volatile History and he hosts the long-running weekly BBC Radio 4 programme, The Life Scientific.


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Keith Ward (DD, Cambridge and Oxford), a self-described Idealist Philosopher, is a member of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, a fellow of the British Academy and a priest of the Church of England. He is the author of over 50 books that range widely over the philosophy and nature of religion, religion and science, religion and ethics and Christianity and the modern world. His major books on science and religion include “Pascal's Fire: Scientific Faith and Religious Understanding” (2006) and “The Big Questions in Science and Religion” (2008). His most recent work includes “Confessions of a Recovering Fundamentalist” (2020), “Parables About Time and Eternity” (2021) and “The Priority of Mind” (2021). His work has been the subject of several critical studies, including By Faith and Reason: The Essential Keith Ward” (2012, edited by Curtis Holtzen and Roberto Sirvent). Ward has held positions at the University of London, Cambridge University and the University of Oxford and visiting positions at Claremont Graduate School and Hartford Seminary.



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Paul C. W. Davies (PhD, University College London) is Regents Professor of Physics at Arizona State University where he also directs BEYOND: The Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. A theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, best-selling science author and media personality, he has published 30 books and hundreds of research papers and review articles across a range of scientific fields. His research interests have focused mainly on quantum gravity, early universe cosmology, the theory of quantum black holes and the nature of time. He has also made important contributions to the field of astrobiology and to cancer research, including developing a new theory of cancer based on tracing its deep evolutionary origins. Among his many awards are the 1995 Templeton Prize, the Faraday Prize from The Royal Society, the Kelvin Medal and Prize from the Institute of Physics, the Robinson Cosmology Prize and the Bicentenary Medal of Chile. His more recent books include "What's Eating the Universe?" (2021) and "The Demon in the Machine" (2019).


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Hava Tirosh-Samuelson (PhD, Hebrew University of Jerusalem) is Regents Professor of History, Irving and Miriam Lowe Professor of Modern Judaism and director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Arizona State University. An authority on Jewish intellectual history, Tirosh-Samuelson is a Jewish intellectual historian who focuses on the interplay of philosophy and mysticism, Judaism and science, religion and environmentalism and religion, science and technology. She is the author 4 books and over 50 essays, the editor-in-chief of the “Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers,” a series of 21 books featuring leading Jewish thinkers and editor of 9 books, including “Perfecting Human Futures: Transhuman Visions and Technological Imaginations” (2018). She has been an innovator in the interdisciplinary study of science, religion and technology, including leading a faculty seminar for over a decade and directing or co-directing multiple projects, including a current initiative, Beyond Secularization: Religion, Science and Technology in Public Life. Her next book, “Environmental Jewish Spirituality in the Post-Secular Age,” is forthcoming from Routledge in 2023.



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Pauline Davies is an award-winning radio science and health broadcaster with an extensive international career. She spent many years with the BBC’s World Service where her programs reached audiences of tens of millions worldwide. Her topics ranged from fundamental physics to new food technologies and human origins and she has reported from conflict zones on maternal health and combatant injuries. Davies continues to make news and documentary items from across the sciences for public broadcasters worldwide. She now specializes in cancer research outreach, leading major programs. She led the outreach and education program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded Physical Sciences and Oncology Center at ASU and now leads the outreach for the NCI funded Arizona Cancer Evolution Center, part of the NCI's Cancer Systems Biology Consortium. Davies is also collaborating with the Mayo Clinic to help prevent burnout amongst physicians.


Co-sponsoring ASU Units:

BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science

Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology

Center for Jewish Studies

Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict

Council for Arabic and Islamic Studies

Council of Religious Advisors (CORA)

School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership


Conversations on Religion, Ethics and Science (CORES) is made possible through a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to the Arizona Center for Christian Studies and subcontracted with the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University. The opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation, Arizona Center for Christian Studies, Arizona State University, or other co-sponsors.

Additional information

flyer_cores2023.pdf (574.95 KB)

Event contact

Alex Brooks

Thursday, January 26, 2023

January 26, 2023
Online, via Zoom
12 noon AZ / 2 p.m. EST / 7 p.m. GMT

12:00 pm1:50 pm (MST)


Zoom Webinar