Monday, March 21, 2011

Harvard astronomer to offer public lectures at annual Religion and Science Conference


Conference: Eleventh annual Goshen College Conference on Religion and Science, featuring Harvard astronomer Owen Gingerich
Free public lectures: "Design and Variation" on Friday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. and "Becoming Human" on Saturday, March 26 at 10:30 a.m.
Location: Goshen College Church-Chapel
For more information:

GOSHEN, Ind. – Owen Gingerich, professor emeritus of astronomy and history of science at Harvard University, will be the keynote speaker at the 11th annual Goshen College Religion and Science Conference. The theme of this year's conference is "Worrying About Evolution." Gingerich, also a 1951 Goshen College alumnus and a senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, will offer a free public lecture on Friday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m., titled "Design and Variation," and another on Saturday, March 26 at 10:30 a.m., titled "Becoming Human." Both lectures will take place in the Goshen College Church-Chapel.

Gingerich's research has ranged from the re-computation of an ancient Babylonian mathematical table to the interpretation of stellar spectra. He is the co-author of two successive standard models for the solar atmosphere, the first to take into account rocket and satellite observations of the sun. The second of these papers has received over 700 literature citations.

In past decades, Gingerich has become a leading authority on Johannes Kepler, the 17th-century German astronomer, and on Nicholas Copernicus, the 16th-century cosmologist who proposed the heliocentric system.

Gingerich has served as vice president of the American Philosophical Society (America's oldest scientific academy) and as chairman of the U.S. National Committee of the International Astronomical Union. He has also been councilor of the American Astronomical Society, and helped organize its Historical Astronomy Division.

In addition to 200 technical or research articles and 300 reviews, Gingerich has written more than 250 educational, encyclopedia or popular articles. His essays have been made into two anthologies, "The Great Copernicus Chase and Other Adventures in Astronomical History" and "The Eye of Heaven: Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler."

While at Harvard, Gingerich taught "The Astronomical Perspective," which at the time of his retirement in 2000 was one of the longest-running courses at Harvard. In 1984 he was one of the first to win the Harvard-Radcliffe Phi Beta Kappa prize for excellence in teaching.

The Goshen College's Religion and Science Conference is designed to provide maximum interaction with one of the principal thinkers in the dialog between religion and science. A single invited speaker presents three lectures, two of which are open to the public. Small, moderated discussion sessions provide conference participants an opportunity to address topics from the lectures, and others, in conversation with the speaker.

Conference attendants and participants include pastors and interested laypersons, as well as academic scientists, mathematicians, theologians and students. For more information about the conference, visit

– By Alysha Landis

Editors: For more information about this release, to arrange an interview or request a photo, contact Goshen College News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or




Goshen College, established in 1894, is a residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college's Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron's Best Buys in Education, "Colleges of Distinction," "Making a Difference College Guide" and U.S.News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges" edition, which named Goshen a "least debt college." Visit

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