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CTNS Public Forum
October 30, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
Berkeley, California

Challenging Free Will:
Emergentism as a Viable Metaphysics

Speaker: Dr. James Haag, CTNS
Respondent: Dr. Terrence Deacon, University of California, Berkeley


This lecture presents material completed for Dr. Haag’s recent dissertation. Two theses in the dissertation will be elaborated: 1) Emergentism, by occupying the gap between Reductive Physicalism and Substance Dualism, provides for a viable metaphysics, 2) Emergentism, by expanding our notions of causation, provides a space for free will to be both experientially balanced and evidentially accurate. In order to express these ideas, several prominent themes will be presented.

First, the rise of Emergentism over the last 40 years has come with a great deal of misunderstanding of the terminology. Clarification of the term “emergence” is needed, which Haag provides by designating a tripartite split between instants of emergence, theories of emergence, and dynamics of emergence. Second, Emergentism offers a shift in causal explanations that deviates from the dominant perspective on causation—one that is dictated by efficient-causation-alone—as the current view means losing the possibility for human free will. Third, Emergentism offers a new way of looking at the free will issue, by taking seriously first-person, phenomenal experience and third-person scientific evidence. Fourth, Haag will briefly note some of the challenges this poses for theological reflection and suggest that a new theological model (Dynamic Theological Naturalism) offers theologians access to the best possible explanations of reality.

James Haag recently finished his PhD in Systematic and Philosophical Theology at the GTU. He is currently a Post-Doctoral Visiting Scholar at CTNS and the Managing Editor for the journal Theology and Science.

Terrence Deacon is professor of Biological Anthropology and Linguistics at University of California, Berkeley. His research combines human evolutionary biology and neuroscience, with the aim of investigating the evolution of human cognition. His work extends from laboratory-based cellular-molecular neurobiology to the study of semiotic processes underlying animal and human communication, especially language.

This public forum is sponsored by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, an Affiliate of the Graduate Theological Union.

Open and free to the public.

For more information. email or call 510-848-8152.

Richard S. Dinner Board Room
GTU Library, 2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley, California


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