Los Alamos Faith & Science Forum Nov. 17

LAFSF News:
 
The Los Alamos Faith & Science Forum is holding a winter series on the topic “What Makes Us Human?,” continuing Nov. 17.
 
The LAFSF meets the third Tuesday of the month (except for December), at Kelly Hall at Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church. A video/presentation begins at 6 p.m. followed by a large group discussion at 6:30 p.m., ending around 7 p.m.
 
Feel free to bring your dinner. All are welcome. Follow the LAFSF blog here.
 
Did Neanderthals Go to Heaven?
 
When Darwin suggested that we were somehow descended from apes which most likely came out of Africa, the outrage at this alternative to the Adam and Eve story in Genesis usually turned to ridicule (see cartoon showing a monkey body with Darwin’s head on it).
 
Then in 1924 Dart discovered a strange skull in South Africa, the so-called Tuang Boy. Other human-like remains had been discovered earlier in Germany’s Neander Valley.
 
Since then we are finding an amazing array of ancient skeletal remains of beings who were clearly not apes, but neither were they us.
 
Finally we begin finding skeletons that look just like us starting nearly 200,000 years ago. But from these seemed still to act like dim-brained hominids with primitive stone tools and none of the artifacts found much later in the geologic record. Then about 50,000 years ago everything changed and we begin finding uswith ritual burials, art, a wide array of tools and cave paintings.
 
Meanwhile Neanderthals seem to have existed at the same time but acting more like our earlier, more primitive selves.
 
We will now look at this larger picture and seek Adam and Eve. All this faces us with several questions. After some 5 million years in which there were always more than one species of hominid, there is now only one—us.  What’s been going on? What does this all mean? What were all those other hominids for?
 
Last month you heard details about that time around 50,000 years ago when we became Homo sapiens sapiens. Maybe that’s when Adam and Eve appeared.
 
But, if Neanderthals were also intelligent and could sense the existence of the divine, did Adam and Eve have to precede them?
 
A final question deals with deciding between evolution’s multiple attempts at achieving intelligence and finally finding it, or a Creator who, when evolution had done about as well as it could, had to inject the proper genetic changes to make this happen.
 
Given the vast amounts of time since the universe began and the unimaginable number of stars and planets out there, might not evolution with the proper ‘attractors’ be sure to develop intelligence on its own without injection of Divine help, or do we need a loving God to give us Adam and Eve?
 
About the presenter:
 
Chick Keller was born into a Catholic Community. He went to Catholic school for 12 years, where the nuns were wonderful and great teachers. Keller decided to become a priest and went to Benedictine Monastery/St. Vincent College for four years—a splendid time of learning. 
 
He decided that theologians didn’t pay enough attention to what science was trying to tell them, but had recognized that there was a second Catholic tradition– that of the monastic system with its scholarship. 
 
This made much more sense to him than the local parish tradition and still does. Keller went to Penn State Univversity and studied physics and math, then Indiana University to study astrophysics for a PhD. He did graduate work in 1967-68 at LANL, where he was hired in 1969. Keller retired in 2001 after a career in computer modeling of fluid motions and administration of computer modeling in geoscience studies including climate change. 
 
Keller is active at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church with its Vatican II reforms—music, teaching junior high students, and support for poor in Northern New Mexico. 
 
More recently he has influence from Buddhism as it enhances Christian thinking, as well as great admiration for Judaism especially as the basis of much Christian thinking. 
Keller is enthusiastic about innovative thinking of other Christian denominations. He has done much reading in the area of religion and science, especially interested in applying scientific methods and findings to Revelation. 
 
For example, if quantum and chaos theories are correct, the Creator has made a world in which even the Creator can’t know the future in detail. This rids us of problems like predestination and points to our role in creating a future that is better than the present.
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