COVID-19: A Message From Our IRAS Conference Chairs and President
Dear IRAS members, 2020 IRAS conference registrants and others with an interest in the 2020 conference, We’re sure you are wondering whether, in light of the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation, our 2020 Star Island conference (Naturalism — as Religion, within Religions, or without Religion?), scheduled this year for the week ending on July 4, will actually be held. As some of you have already heard, the short answer is that we don’t yet know. Together with Star, we are monitoring the situation closely. We are acutely aware of the potential dangers of holding the conference, and neither we nor Star will be willing to do so if the health of our conferees (to say nothing of the Pelicans and other Star staff members) is put at risk. It is also possible that New Hampshire or federal authorities will in any case not allow the conference to occur although we expect that we and Star will be even more conservative than government decision makers. We will keep you informed and notify you promptly as soon as we, Star or government authorities make a decision. We expect to have more information, and be able to provide an update, no later than the week of April 6th, but we can’t guarantee that a decision will be made by then. Financially, your registration fees and deposits will be returned if the conference is cancelled. If the conference goes forward, both IRAS and Star have committed to return all registration fees and deposits to anyone who decides to cancel attendance, right up to the day the conference commences. So you can register at any time with confidence that you will get your money back if there is no conference or you subsequently decide not to attend. We realize that a number of you would need to fly in order to attend and that the airlines are unlikely to commit to return your fares, even if they waive cancellation or flight change fees, if you make a reservation and decide not to use it. Unless it is clear that cancellation/change fees will be waived and you feel sure that you could use your fare to later take other flights, we suggest in that connection that you not make flight reservations until the situation becomes clearer – we believe it likely that plenty of seats will be available if a decision is made that the conference will go forward. Our hearts are with you in these troubling times. Please stay safe. Ted Laurenson, IRAS president, and Wim Drees and Barbara Whittaker-Johns, conference co-chairs EDWIN C. LAURENSON Partner
Will Modern Civilization be the Death of Us? Reflections on the Earth's Future A new way of envisioning tomorrow will be offered. When on a rugged landscape, complexity science teaches us to explore every possibility for which we have resources. In 2020, we find ourselves on such a landscape. It will not soon get smoother. Today, the dominant response of our modern cultures is still yesterday’s response — we commit ever more resources to solving the problems we can now see by developing STEM in conventional ways. In effect, we moderns have come to believe that the core work of the 21st century is to make modernity globally sustainable. Overwhelmingly, this is our driving focus. Accordingly, no serious and sustained efforts are being made to explore, understand and respond to today’s complexity with an entrepreneurial and imaginative spirit that questions the soundness of our commitment to sustaining current educational and scientific practices. We neglect, possibly at our peril, insights such as these: (1) No version of modernity can be made to be sustainable. (2) The core human work of the 21st century is not as we now assume. (3) Rather, we need to transcend our modern/industrial form of civilization. This means learning to let go of modernity by outgrowing it at every scale of our existence and to face the utterly new and historic work of becoming the conscious cocreators of the next form of human civilization — the Consciously Co-creative. A path forward will be offered, including new roles for science, technology, and religion. Speakers: Dr. William Rees, professor emeritus University of British Columbia Mr. Ruben Nelson, Executive Director, Foresight Canada Moderator: Chuck Fowler
The Science & Religion track was created jointly by the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS) and the International Society on Science and Religion (ISSR), specifically addressing the major themes of the 2019 Parliament.