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William Grassie + Shobo Bhattacharya

Talk about Nothing

Monday, November 22, 2010
7:00 PM–8:30 PM

To mark the publication of William Grassie’s The New Sciences of Religion, religious scholar Grassie and physicist Shobo Bhattacharya debate whether contemporary science affirms the Buddhist (and sometimes Hindu) doctrine of Anatman (No Self). Is identity merely an illusion foisted on us by matter in motion or is there “something more” that arises from “nothing but”? What of self and soul might persist beyond our material bodies?

The New Sciences of Religion is a critical analysis of new scientific research on religious and spiritual phenomena. Using insights from economics, evolutionary psychology, the neurosciences, and medicine, William Grassie works from the “outside in” to develop a multifaceted understanding of religion. He then asks what in spirituality might also be true and profound, when our received traditions are reinterpreted from “the bottom up” in light of contemporary sciences. The New Sciences of Religion is an original and compelling scientific interpretation of religion and also a religious interpretation of science that will challenge and delight students and scholars alike.
William Grassie is founder and emeritus executive director of the Metanexus Institute on Religion and Science. He is the recipient of a number of academic awards and grants from the American Friends Service Committee, the Roothbert Fellowship, and the John Templeton Foundation. In 2007-2008, Grassie served as a Fulbright Fellow in the Department of Buddhist Studies at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Grassie is author of The New Sciences of Religion published this November, and Politics by Other Means.
Sabyasachi (Shobo) Bhattacharya is an experimental condensed matter physicist. He was formerly the Director of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, India and a Senior Professor in its Department of Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science.
His research activities over the years include complex fluids such as liquid crystals, micelles, microemulsions and glass forming liquids as well as dynamics of disordered condensed matter systems such as vortex matter in superconductors, sliding charge density waves and glassy systems in general. His current research interests include scanning probe studies of domain wall dynamics in systems such as ferroelectrics, ferromagnets and multiferroics as well as optical tweezer-based studies of complex fluids.