Academy for Seniors 2009-2010 Series

The Augustana Academy for Seniors organized a successful 2009-2010 year.

God, Ethics, and Science

September 16 • WEDNESDAY
Dave O'Hara"God, Reason, and the Challenge of Atheism”
Dr. David O'Hara, Assistant Professor,



October 21 • WEDNESDAY
“Thoughts of a Lutheran Ethicist”Laurie Jungling
Dr. Laurie Jungling, Assistant Professor,




November 18 • WEDNESDAY
“Is Evolution Compatible with the Christian World View?Michael Wanous
A Historical Perspective”

Dr. Michael Wanous, Associate Professor, Biology



February 17 • WEDNESDAY
"Exploring Native American Culture: A Closer Look at the First Dakotans"William J. Swart
William Swart, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair,
Sociology Department, Augustana College


Audio of presentation (50 Mb)


March 24 • WEDNESDAY
"Cultures, Values, and Beliefs Afffecting Native American Health"Karla Abbott
Karla Abbott, MA, RN, Instructor
Nursing Department, Augustana College

Slides of Karla Abbott presentation (pdf, 4 MB)



April 21 • WEDNESDAY
"A Current View from Sinte Gleska"Lionel Bordeaux
Lionel Bordeaux, President
Sinte Gleske University

Audio of presentation (26 Mb)




Wednesday, September 16;  Program #1

"God, Reason, and the Challenge of Atheism"
Dr. David O'Hara
Assistant Professor, Religion/Philosophy/Classics Department

Audio of David O'Hara presentation (10 Mb)

What do atheists believe? About the origin of religious beliefs and practices? About the credibility of Christian theism's central claims? About the effects of religious beliefs upon morality? Have atheists writing today made their case? Are there considerations which they overlook or weigh differently that point in the other direction? How does religion fare at the bar of reason? Are its claims defensible? Can a strong case for believing in God be made in our own day? And what about the connection between morality and religion? How should we understand that?

Booklist recommended by David O'Hara—the Augustana Bookstore will have a few copies by mid-August.

  • David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusion (Yale University Press, 2009). ISBN 978-0-300-11190-3
  • Robert B. Stewart, ed., The Future of Atheism (Fortress Press, 2008). ISBN 978-0-8006-6314-8
  • Keith Ward, Is Religion Dangerous? (Eerdman's Publishing, 2006). ISBN 978-0-8028-4508-5
  • Merold Westphal, Suspicion and Faith (Fordham University Press. 1998) ISBN 0-8232-1876-7
  • N.T. Wright, Simply Christian (Harper-Collins, 2006). ISBN 978-0-0605-0715-2
  • Santiago Zabala, ed., The Future of Religion (Columbia University Press, 2005). ISBN 978-0-231-13495-8


Wednesday, October 21; Program #2

"Thoughts of a Lutheran Ethicist"
Dr. Laurie Jungling
Assistant Professor, Religion/Philosophy/Classics Department

Audio of Laurie Jungling presentation (23 Mb)

What does religion have to do with ethics? Are there moral absolutes? Why do people who pray to the same God and read the same Bible come to such very different conclusions on moral questions and public policy issues? Is there anything distinctive in the way Lutherans do ethics and approach moral issues? What kind of help can churches and pastors give? When you think about moral issues, how do you proceed? What things inform your decision-making? What considerations have priority as you wrestle with issues like abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, capital punishment, prayer in schools? What role does Scripture play in your deliberating? Prayer? The Golden Rule? The principle that we should always do what is best for the most? Or always follow universalizable rules? Or do what love requires? What authors or books have you found most helpful as a Christian ethicist?


Wednesday, November 18; Program #3

"Is Evolution Compatible with the Christian World View? A Historical Perspective"
Dr. Michael Wanous
Associate Professor, Biology Department

Audio of Mike Wanous presentation (20Mb)

Slides of Mike Wanous presentation (pdf, 5 Mb)

Are religion and science opposed, the one relying on reason and empirical investigation, the other trusting to faith and revelation? What is the relation between the Book of Scripture and the Book of Nature? How did the church fathers view it? St. Augustine? Luther? Galileo, Bacon, more modern thinkers? Where should a Christian come down on the theory of evolution? Do you see a conflict between Christian tenets and evolutionary theory? How do you handle the controversy in the classroom?

 Recommended reading list for this presentation:

  • Collins, Francis S. 2006. The Language of God. A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Free Press.
  • Collins, Francis S. 2003. Can an evangelical believe in evolution? International J. of Frontier Missions 20:4:109-112.
  • Falk, Darrel. 2004. Coming to Peace with Science. IVP Academic.
  • Galilei, Galileo. 1615. Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany.
  • Matthews, S. 2008. Theology and Science in the Thought of Francis Bacon. Ashgate, U.K.
  • Wanous, M.K. 2007. Evolution and Faith: Complementary or Conflicting Visions? Proc. SD Academy of Science 86:11.