Lectures & Discussions
Learn more about history, science and the arts through the Reynolds Homestead’s lectures and public discussions. We tap into a wealth of local talent as well as experts from Virginia Tech and the surrounding area to find great topics for you to enjoy. These lectures and discussions are always FREE and open to the public.
The History Around Us
Bi-monthly, beginning in January, the Homestead hosts a “History Around Us” program featuring topics of local interest. Stay tuned for the upcoming schedule!
David Oliver Lecture Series
Local Meadows of Dan resident and retired MIT professor David Oliver, continues his research into fascinating aspects of not only physics and evolution, but also into the human condition. Beginning on January 22, 2017, David will begin his lecture series “Beyond God.”
BEYOND GOD: The Ultimate Mystery in the Modern World
Time Magazine stunned America fifty years ago (April 19, 1966) with a three-word cover: “Is God Dead?” The issue caused an uproar; yet traditional belief in Gods of all forms is dying—even as it remains strong in many parts of the world.
In these lectures I take us back to the fundamental ground of mystery where, for us as finite creatures, all knowledge begins. Science, rather than religion, will inform and guide us on this journey for two reasons. First, scientific discoveries of the past two hundred years from the big bang origin of the universe to the evolution of life leave little place for the human-like God-Man of the Bible and other religions. These tribal Gods—whom scripture and prophets tell us created the universe—are unaware of the most profound and important facts about it.
Second, science has given our self-centered species a spirit of humility. The universe was not created by God-Man for us. We are not its center. The universe is too incredible, our existence too wonderful. We flourish with all creatures sharing a rich and vast universe.
While God-Man may not exist as a physical reality, the God-Man of the Bible (and other divinities) powerfully exists in minds, individually and collectively, of a believing culture.The ability of the mind to hold a belief in a God who loves, rewards, and punishes—as a father—is an important evolutionary adaptation that makes complex social life with demands and benefits of cooperation possible. People behave for love of—and for fear of God-Man. People can kill and go to war for God-Man.
Science provides guidance to our beliefs, but it is no despot. Science declares its limits. A law of quantum physics tells us that in every physical interaction there is a small, creative element that cannot be known and is completely unpredictable—the source of all things new. All of nature, including the emergence of life, is made possible by this astonishing physical law, a law that proclaims “there is no law.” Wildness streams through the universe interwoven in the laws of physics.
Beyond science, I bring forward poets and mystics who discern and nurture a dramatically different God beyond God-Man: an ineffable spirit welling up from the depths of nature, not almighty—but small, like a seed, a newborn babe. The God-Beyond is powerless against the affliction of the world, save for the emanation of love, welcomed by the sacred yearnings of the heart: in thanks for existence, for matter, for light, for love, for this universe out of which we have been born.
WHO IS GOD? God: the Most Burdened of Human Words—Martin Buber
Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 3:00 p.m.
Human beings hold dramatically different visions of God. The first and most dominant is the God-Man of institutional religion, a God who watches over the world and rules it: rewarding, punishing, desiring, loving, as a father rules his family, a Lord his tribe, a king his realm.
The second is the God of mystics—ultimately mysterious, ineffable—provoked by the sheer mystery of existence, a God who evokes wonder and love and for whom might and omniscience, reward and punishment are strangely out of place: God-Beyond.