LAMP Lectures and Seminars

LAMP offers lectures, seminars and workshops throughout the academic year on topics related to global leadership, religious diversity, and multifaith understanding.

John D. Cressler, "The Quest for Truth in a Technological Age: The Evolving Dialogue Between Science and Religion"

September 14, 2017, 7:00-8:00pm. Georgia Tech, Technology Square Research Building, Tech Square, 85 5th Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30308.

Event Details:  A lecture by Dr. John D. Cressler, Schlumberger Chair Professor and Ken Byers Teaching Fellow in Science and Religion at Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. This event is free and open to the public. Paid parking is available at a parking deck labeled "Centergy Parking" across from the Technology Square Research Building on the right. More information is available on the Building's Directions and Parking page. 

We live in a technological age that is both dizzyingly exciting in its technical capabilities and more than a little unsettling in the unprecedented rapidity of change that is constantly being foisted upon us. Consider your smartphone: hands down the most sophisticated piece of technology per unit volume that humankind has ever created. A gentle reminder—the iPhone was invented less than 10 years ago! Or consider the internet, which is woven into literally everything we say and do. A gentle reminder—in 1984, the year I “got out” of Georgia Tech with my BS, we still used “punch cards” to write computer programs and there were only 1,000 computers connected to the internet! The manufacturing of the requisite viral-sized, speed-of-light fast electronic devices that form the guts of our smartphones and power today’s internet easily represent the most sophisticated manufacturing triumph that planet Earth has ever witnessed. Period.

The scientific enterprise, and its logical manifestation in the engineering disciplines (go Georgia Tech!), has driven these disruptive changes that pervade our daily lives. Given these remarkable successes, it is often assumed that science represents the only reliable means for obtaining “the truth.” And yet, science rests upon foundational assumptions that cannot be proven, even in principle, and mathematics itself, the bedrock of science, cannot, even in principle, prove its own logical self-consistency. It is important to appreciate that science is limited in the kinds of questions it is capable of answering. Inevitably, these are questions of mechanism—“how” questions, not questions of meaning—“why” questions.

The world’s religions, on the other hand, which are far older than modern science, exist to answer these tougher, deeper questions of meaning. A gentle reminder—at a time when religion may seem passé and irrelevant, it is instructive to note that over 83% of the world’s 7.4 billion people claim to be religious! Religion attempts to provide meaningful answers to the deep questions of existence, questions we all desire answers for. Why is there something rather than nothing? Does God exist? Does the universe have a purpose? Is there life after death? Given the nature of such questions, it is commonly assumed that religion rests solely upon untestable faith, not fact, and belief in things that cannot be seen or proven experimentally. The common inference, therefore, is that religion is fundamentally at odds with reason, and thus the tenets of the scientific method. Sad to say, this breeds the knee-jerk reaction that science and religion are diametrically opposed to each other, and in the best case, should be separated and kept at arms’ length.

Interestingly, however, dialogue between science and religion, while historically contentious, continues to evolve in fascinating ways, with one recent implication being that science and religion, when properly considered from a “convergence” perspective, is capable of producing the most complete and satisfying path forward in humanity’s quest for truth. Said another way, don’t think science OR religion, think science AND religion. In this presentation I will unpack the fascinating evolving dialogue between science and religion, in a casual, friendly, approachable way, exposing you to the marvels of modern science (cosmology, biology, quantum theory) and what those discoveries mean for religion and the future of humanity.

Speaker Bio: John D. Cressler is one of Georgia Tech’s most decorated teachers, is well-known for his research in the field of SiGe devices, circuits and systems, is a dedicated mentor to both undergraduate and graduate students, is a leader in service to his profession and community, is the author of a number of seminal books (both technical and for general audiences), and most recently, is an historical novelist (love stories designed to break open the magic of medieval Muslim Spain for modern readers). Whew, scary huh?! Cressler is the Schlumberger Chair Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Ken Byers Teaching Fellow in Science and Religion at Georgia Tech. He received his B.S. from Georgia Tech and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. One of Cressler’s passions is speaking on technical topics to non-technical audiences, and on nontechnical topics to technical audiences, of which he does both quite a bit. The former began in earnest with the release of his book Silicon Earth (now in its 2nd Edition), which introduces microelectronics and nanotechnology and their societal impact to general audiences. He presented on this topic last fall at DragonCon 2016, one of the largest science fiction and fantasy geek-fests on the planet (65,000+ costumed crazies!). He also teaches a course on the topic which is open to undergraduates of all majors and years, and which is required for business majors in the Georgia Tech’s Technology and Management Program. Cressler is also deeply interested in the interaction between science and religion, as well as interfaith dynamics, and he recently introduced a new course at Georgia Tech, a first of its kind, titled, “Science, Engineering and Religion: An Interfaith Dialogue,” which is also open to undergraduate students of all majors and years. He considers teaching and mentoring of young people to be his life’s work. He and his wife Maria have been married for 34 years, are the proud parents of three exceptional young people, and the doting grandparents of five beyond-cute little ones (soon to be six!).

Barbara A. McGraw, "Interfaith Leadership as Transforming Leadership."

April 18, 2017, 5:00-6:00pm. Georgia Tech, Wardlaw Building Poole Board Room, 177 North Avenue NW, Atlanta, GA 30313.

Event Details: This event is free and open to the public. Register on site or in advance by contacting us at lamp [at] (subject: 4%2F18%20Registration, body: Please%20register%20me%20for%20%22Interfaith%20Leadership%20as%20Transformational%20Leadership%22%20on%20April%2018.) . Paid parking is available at Visitor Lot 1 on North Avenue, west of the Wardlaw Building. Park on the top level and use the pedestrian walkway to cross North Ave. More information is available on the Georgia Tech parking and transportation website.

Speaker Bio: Barbara A. McGraw is Professor of Social Ethics, Law, and Public life in the School of Liberal Arts and School of Economics and Business Administration at St. Mary’s College of California. She also directs the Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism at St. Mary’s. Dr. McGraw is editor of the prestigious Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Politics in the U.S. (2016).  She is lead co-editor (with Jo Renee Formicola) of Taking Religious Pluralism Seriously: Spiritual Politics on America's Sacred Ground, which is based on Dr. McGraw's earlier book entitled Rediscovering America’s Sacred Ground: Public Religion and Pursuit of the Good in a Pluralistic America.  She is also co-author (with Robert S. Ellwood) of Many Peoples, Many Faiths: Women and Men in the World Religions (2014). She holds a Juris Doctor Degree and a Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics, both from the University of Southern California.  Recipient of the Mahatma Gandhi Award for the Advancement of Religious Pluralism, Dr. McGraw also is a member of the Bar of the United States Supreme Court, an Affiliate of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, and an activist for prison inmates' religious rights and for fair representation of the world's religions in California K-12 textbooks.

Abbas Barzegar, "Faith and Forced Migration: Muslim Humanitarianism in the Age of ISIS."

April 20, 2017, 1:00-2:15pm. Emory University, White Hall 112, 301 Dowman Dr., Atlanta, GA 30322.


Event Details: Prolonged conflict in the Middle East stemming from political instability and the rise of extremist violence has positioned Muslim aid and development organizations at the nexus of a number of key elements related to conflict resolution and post-conflict stabilization in the short, medium and long terms. As first-responders with broad and deep grass-roots networks, Muslim humanitarian groups are often gatekeepers for a range of transnational actors operating in and around conflict zones and are uniquely situated to provide relief to the most vulnerable victims of war and forced migration. Unfortunately, there is a deep mistrust between Muslim NGOs and those based in Western contexts which has resulted in little to no cooperation between agencies that might otherwise have tremendous impact if they worked together. In partnership with the British Council and The European Commission and through field research, policy dialogues, and organizational research, Dr. Barzegar has explored the reasons behind this impasse and trajectories for resolution over the last two years. In this public talk and discussion, he will share his findings and insights on how Muslim humanitarian and development agencies are operating in the current political climate of mutual fear and suspicion. This event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required. Co-sponsored with Emory University's Middle East and South Asian Studies Department, Graduate Division of Religion, and the Laney Legacy for Moral Leadership Program at Candler School of Theology. Visitor parking is available in the Peavine Parking Lot, 29 Eagle Row, Atlanta, GA 30322.

"Inclusive Leadership in Refugee Resettlement Workshop."

November 1-2, 2016

"Scaffolds for the Sacred: Interrogating the Role of Architecture in Generating Spiritual Experiences."

September 15, 2016, 12:00-6:30 P.M.

"Scaffolds for the Sacred" Event Photos

"In Our Son's Name: Reconciliation in the Aftermath of Violence - Film Screening and Dinner Discussion with Filmmaker Gayla Jamiso"

September 8, 2016

"Dignity and Freedom: Gandhi, King, and Mandela."

April 4, 2016

More About "Dignity and Freedom"

Dr. Keshavjee Honored With the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Award for Peace

"Dignity and Freedom" Photo Gallery

"Evolution and Faith: What Is at Stake?"

March 29, 2016

More About "Evolution and Faith: What Is at Stake?"

Video of "Evolution and Faith: What is at stake?"