Speaking & Lectures
The following is a sampling of presentations Dr. Giberson has given in various venues. Any of these can be adapted for different audiences and settings so it's best to consider the titles and materials as templates. Contact Dr. Giberson directly for questions about content, speaking and travel, or check his calendar page for general availability.
America's Creation-Evolution Controversy
The following talk has been my most popular one at evangelical schools, where many students are wrestling with evolution. My experience is that many students want to accept evolution but have been taught in their church and home that they cannot. The original version of this talk was developed for the speaking tour that promoted my book Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution.
Abstract: Karl Giberson was raised in a fundamentalist parsonage to believe the universe was 10,000 years old, evolution was a conspiracy with no scientific foundation, and Darwin was evil. Studying physics in a Christian college convinced him that science was compatible with belief in God. In his talks Giberson shares his struggle to make peace with Darwin and the serious challenges it poses to traditional religious belief. Interwoven with his personal journey is the story of a deeply religious America wrestling with a science that is often used as a club to bash religion.
The Language of Faith & Science
For smaller audiences I have done informal conventional book discussions. After a few general remarks about how this book came about I read a few sections to launch a discussion.
Abstract: How should Christians think about evolution? The Language of Science & Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions argues that evolution should be incorporated into the Christian concept of creation. By taking science seriously and making reasonable biblical and theological moves, Christians can become comfortable with evolution. And it turns out that evolution reduces the challenges to faith created by the problem of evil.
A Creation Story for the 21st Century
This is a talk intended for chapels and other events where a more devotional and uncontroversial tone is desired. It is based on my 2012 book with Paraclete Press titled And God Saw that it was Good: A Creation Story for the 21st century.
Abstract: What would the Genesis creation story look like if it was being written today? Is it possible to view modern scientific explanations for origins as "creation stories"? Using overtly biblical language and metaphors Karl Giberson offers a "retelling" of the Genesis creation story, cast within the framework of modern science. In so doing he provides a spiritually appealing and theologically congenial picture of contemporary scientific explanations for origins.
Atheism and the Religion of Science
This talk is based on my book The Oracles of Science: Celebrity Scientists versus God & Religion. A paper that covers much of the same ground can be downloaded here. This talk is not targeted at evangelicals and I have given versions of it at The Thomas Moore Institute in London, the Vatican, Brigham Young University, as well as colleges and universities in the United States.)
Abstract: Leading public figures in science—like E.O. Wilson, Stephen Hawking, and Richard Dawkins—like to talk negatively about God and religion. Their work is characterized by a hostility to religion that is not representative of the scientific community as a whole. As a result, many religious people have a fear of science that drives them into the arms of anti-scientific demagogues like Ken Ham.
Are Science & Religion at War?
The following talk was developed for conservative audiences. The message is encouraging and supportive to faith, with minimal controversy. It has been well-received by conservative and liberal Christian groups, as well as secular audiences.
Abstract: Popular Culture contains a “metanarrative” about science and religion being at war. This story can be found in pulpits, on National Public Radio, or on less heady fare like The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy. The story goes like this: Science and religion are mortal enemies and always have been. The “Church” has opposed every scientific advance and scientists have been persecuted, tortured and even executed for their discoveries. From the flat earthism of the first millennium, to the persecution of Galileo, to widespread rejection of Darwinism today we see a steady battle between the forces of superstition and enlightenment. This popular picture is wrong, however, driven more by propaganda than history.
Here is a link to a version of this talk delivered as the "2012 Crum Lecture" at Gordon College.
Has Science disproved God?
This talk is based on my book, The Wonder of the Universe: Hints of God in a Fine-Tuned Universe, which will be published in March of 2012.
Abstract: Most educated people believe science has undermined belief in God. While certain traditional understandings of God have been undermined by the advance of science, there are other developments in science that support belief in God. The modern scientific picture of the world, while not “proving” the existence of God in any meaningful sense, does provide support for a traditional Christian worldview.
Anti-Intellectualism and the Religious Right
This talk is based on my book The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age, published by Harvard University Press and co-authored with leading Christian historian Randall Stephens. This talk works well both informally, in a smaller group with discussion, or as a public lecture. It is a frank criticism of some leading evangelical thinkers and is likely to be controversial in conservative settings.
Abstract: American evangelicalism often appears as a monolithic fundamentalism that opposes gay marriage, abortion, and evolution, and promotes apathy about global warming. Prominent evangelical leaders speak with great authority, promoting these agendas to millions of loyal followers. Unfortunately, because of deeply rooted anti-intellectual sentiments, evangelicals are too often attracted to gurus with dubious credentials. Why do millions of Americans prefer to get their science from Ken Ham, founder of the creationist organization Answers in Genesis, who has no scientific expertise, rather than from his fellow evangelical Francis Collins, current Director of the National Institutes of Health? Why is the uncredentialed and discredited David Barton the favored historian of the religious right—including Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachmann—rather than the well-respected evangelical historian Mark Noll? Why are Tim LaHaye’s nonsense apocalyptic scenarios taken so seriously? Why do James Dobson’s obsolete ideas about raising children, the place of women, and homosexuality remain so popular, when there are credible—and orthodox—evangelical alternatives?
Darwin and the Practice of Science
This talk, while defending Darwin against religious critics, is largely historical, rather than theological. Because of its grounding in history, the questions are raised in a non-polemical context, which has proven effective with many audiences.
Abstract: Darwin’s evangelical critics often caricature his work as an anti-religious crusade—the search for a “Creation Story for Atheists.” This view has no factual basis. Darwin’s development of a naturalistic explanation for the development of life came on the heels of a widely recognized failure of traditional religious explanations. In retrospect, we can see that Darwin’s thought fit patterns now widely respected as scientifically prudent.
Celebrating John Polkinghorne
In the fall of 2011 my “biography” of John Polkinghorne, written with my good friend and superstar journalist, Dean Nelson, was published. Quantum Leap: How John Polkinghorne Found God in Science and Religion was a very different project for me. Our goal was to bring certain esoteric ideas about science-and-religion, like divine action and the problem of evil, to a broader audience. We did this by approaching these ideas through the life of the leading personality in the field of science-and-religion. Using events in the life of Rev. Dr. Sir John Polkinghorne, like his life-threatening illness, we open discussion of heavy topics, like the mechanisms of divine action, that might otherwise seem ponderous.
Abstract: Quantum Leap: How John Polkinghorne Found God in Science and Religion provides an engaging look at issues in science-and-religion through the life of its leading scholar. The book springboards discussion of everything from co-authoring and journalism, to divine action and the problem of evil.
God & the Darwin Wars
This is a two-part workshop, that has worked well for seminary and evangelical college faculty audiences. Part One is titled God & the Darwin Wars: How did we get into this mess? Part Two is titled God & the Darwin Wars: Why can’t we get out of this mess? Taken together these two presentations provide a broad overview of most of the issues relevant to this controversy.)
Abstract: God & the Darwin Wars illuminates the controversy over evolution in cultural as well as scientific terms. Drawing on history, biblical scholarship, recent scientific developments, and years of teaching evolution, Karl Giberson explains why the origins controversy in America just won’t go away.
Evolution of a Writer
This talk focuses more on how I became a writer, rather than what I write about.
Abstract: Karl Giberson’s professional journey started with a Ph.D in physics and some esoteric publications in research journals like Applied Optics. As he discovered his “writing bug” he sought opportunities to write in different places for different audiences. Eventually he evolved into a “writer,” publishing books with Oxford, Harvard, HarperOne, InterVarsity and other publishers. This talk is aimed at writing students and faculty who might be traveling the same professional path.