God and Creation:
Jewish, Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Big Bang Cosmology

CTNS 30th Anniversary Conference

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Graduate Theological Union Library, Dinner Board Room,

2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA


"God and Creation: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Big Bang Cosmology" has a threefold purpose: (1) To model a new form of interfaith dialogue, one based on a "third party"/ "shared interest", namely science. The participants learn how each faith sees how the other faiths reflect on particular topics in the natural sciences and thereby gain new and unique perspectives on that faith as well as on their own. (2) To model the unique strength of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU): interfaith dialogue that is intrinsic to each participating faith tradition and guided by mutual respect and by a true sense of what can be learned from other faith traditions for one's own tradition. (3) To expand the perception of the importance of "theology and science" for the GTU community and the wider Bay Area religious and public communities.


1:00pm        Registration/Check-In

1:30pm        Welcome

1:45pm        Introduction to Big Bang Cosmology (William R. Stoeger, SJ)

2:00pm        Cosmology and Islam (Alnoor Dhanani)

2:50pm        Cosmology and Christianity (William R. Stoeger, SJ)

3:40pm        Break, refreshments

4:00pm        Cosmology and Judaism (Daniel Matt)

4:50pm        Panel discussion among the speakers; Q&A from the floor

5:15pm       Celebrating CTNS’s 30th Anniversary (Robert Russell)
6:00pm        Refreshments

About the Speakers

A. Dhanani

Alnoor Dhanani is an intellectual historian specializing in the interaction between science, theology and philosophy in historical and contemporary Islamic civilizations. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Harvard University and is teaching at Brown University and at Tufts University. His current research projects include natural philosophy in Islamic civilization, in particular the responses of practitioners of kalam to Avicenna's critique of atomism and the vacuum, how kalam atomists sought to explain continuity of personal identity following the end of the world and resurrection of bodies, contemporary Muslim responses to Big Bang cosmology, and contemporary Muslim discourses on the relation of religion to science. He is the author of The Physical Theory of Kalam: Atoms, Space, and Void in Basrian Mu'tazili Cosmology. He has also contributed to Before and After Avicenna, The Muslim Almanac, The History of Science and Religion in the Western World, A Historical Introduction to Science and Religion, The Macmillan Encyclopedia of Science and Religion, Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, and the Encyclopedia of Religion.

D Matt


Daniel C. Matt served as Professor of Jewish Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley from 1979-2000. He has taught at Stanford University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on Kabbalah. He has published ten books, including: Zohar: The Book of Enlightenment, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism (translated into seven languages) and God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality.  After living in Jerusalem for four years, Dr. Matt returned to the East Bay where he continues to work on the immense project of translating and annotating Sefer ha-Zohar, the masterpiece of Kabbalah. So far, he has completed six volumes of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition (Stanford University Press), covering approximately half of the Zohar. For this work, Daniel has been honored with a National Jewish Book Award and a Koret Jewish Book Award. The Koret award called his translation “a monumental contribution to the history of Jewish thought.” Dr. Matt has been featured in Time Magazine, and has appeared on National Public Radio and the History Channel. Daniel lives in Berkeley with his wife Hana.


W. StoegerWilliam R. Stoeger, SJ is a staff scientist for the Vatican Observatory Research Group in Tucson, specializing in theoretical cosmology, high-energy astrophysics, and interdisciplinary studies relating to science, philosophy and theology.  His research involves the physics of accretion onto black holes, torsion and bi-metric theories of gravity, the harmonic map structures in gravitational theories. More recently, he has been concentrating on building bridges between theory and cosmologically relevant astronomical observations, and he continues to pursue research on the physics of the central engine in active galactic nuclei and quasars. Dr. Stoeger has taught at the University of Arizona, at the University of San Francisco, and at Summer Schools of the Vatican Observatory. He chairs the Board of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) and is the  Secretary of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.  He is an active participant in the Vatican Observatory/CTNS conferences on "God's Action in the World: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action.”


As the speakers for this 30th annivesray conference, Alnoor Dhanani, Daniel Matt and William Stoeger have been voted as CTNS's J.K. Russell Fellows in Religion and Science for 2011.


Directions and Lodging:

  • Area Map
  • Lodging Options:
    • Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704 (510) 848-7800 
    • Hotel Durant, 2600 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704 (510) 845-8981
    • The French Hotel, 1538 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA (510) 548-9930 (closest hotel)


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