Two popular authors and in-demand speakers -- one, an international expert at the interface of science, philosophy and religion who has participated in a number of televised debates with some of the world's leading atheist thinkers, and the other, an expert in genetic epidemiology and director of the world's largest twin registry who is recognized as one of the top 1% of published scientists in his field -- will visit the Texas A&M University campus next week to present their views on faith, science and society as part of the university's 14th annual Trotter Endowed Lecture Series.

John Lennox, professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford and an emeritus fellow in mathematics and philosophy of science at Green Templeton College, and Timothy Spector, head of the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London and director of the TwinsUK Registry, will deliver a joint public lecture Thursday (Sept. 29) at 7 p.m. in Rudder Theater. No tickets or RSVPs are required for the presentation, which is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception in Rudder's first-floor exhibit hall.

Lennox's talk, "God, Science and the Nature of Explanation," will argue the falseness of the widespread idea that holding a high view of science and belief in God are incompatible. Lennox contends it's an idea that results from inadequate understanding of the nature of explanation, both scientific and theological. Moreover, he will suggest ways in which science and biblical theism may profitably interact.

Spector's talk, "What Twins Reveal About the Science of Faith," will draw from his two decades of research on identical twins to demonstrate that even real-life clones with the same upbringing turn out to be very different. Spector asserts that, contrary to recent scientific teaching, nothing is completely hard-wired nor pre-ordained, but that there is a genetic component to faith -- or lack thereof.

Lennox, a Senior Fellow of the Christian non-profit Trinity Forum, regularly teaches within Oxford's Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division and as an associate fellow in the Said Business School. He is also an adjunct lecturer at Oxford's Wycliffe Hall and at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.

Lennox earned master's and doctoral degrees in mathematics at Cambridge University. He worked for many years in the Mathematics Institute at the University of Wales in Cardiff, which awarded him an honorary doctorate for his research. He also holds master's and doctor of philosophy degrees from Oxford University as well as a master's in bioethics from the University of Surrey. He was a Senior Alexander Von Humboldt Fellow at the Universities of Würzburg and Freiburg in Germany.

Lennox has lectured extensively in North America, Eastern and Western Europe and Australia on mathematics, the philosophy of science and the intellectual defense of Christianity. A prolific author, he has written a number of books on the interface between science, philosophy and theology, including God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (2009), God and Stephen Hawking (2011) in response to Hawking's own The Grand Design, Gunning for God (2011) on the new atheism and Seven Days that Divide the World (2011) on the early chapters of Genesis. His latest book, Against the Flow (2015), looks at the lessons for today's society that one can draw from the life of the biblical figure, Daniel. Lennox also has published more than 70 peer-reviewed articles on mathematics and co-authored two research-level texts in algebra within the Oxford Mathematical Monographs series.

Spector, a Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences, has been a faculty member at King's College since 2006. Originally trained in rheumatology and epidemiology, he moved into genetic epidemiology in 1992, founding the TwinsUK Registry that includes 13,000 twins -- the richest collection of genotypic and phenotypic information worldwide. A National Institute for Health Research Senior Investigator, Spector previously held a prestigious European Research Council Senior Investigator Award in Epigenetics.

During the past quarter century, Spector has demonstrated the genetic basis of a wide range of common complex traits -- many previously thought to be mainly due to aging and environment, not to mention impossible to analyze without his data collection. Through genetic association studies (GWAS), Spector and his research group have found more than 500 novel gene loci in more than 50 disease areas. He has authored more than 800 peer-reviewed papers cited in excess of 80,000 times, ranking him among the top 1% of the world's most published scientists by Thomson-Reuters.

Also a prolific writer, Spector has authored several popular books, including Identically Different: Why You Can Change Your Genes and The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat. He also has a regular blog spanning genetics, epigenetics, microbiome and diet. In addition to TwinsUK, he directs the crowdfunded British Gut Project, where his current work focuses on omics and connections between genes, microbiomes, lifestyle choices and overall health.

The Trotter Prize and Endowed Lecture Series, presented by the College of Science in collaboration with the Dwight Look College of Engineering, seeks to illuminate connections between science and religion, often viewed in academia as non-overlapping if not rival world views. The series was established by Dr. Ide P. Trotter Jr. '54 and Luella H. Trotter with a matching contribution from ExxonMobil Corp. in 2001 to honor Ide P. Trotter Sr., former dean of Texas A&M University's Graduate School, and to recognize pioneering contributions to the understanding of the role of information, complexity and inference in illuminating the mechanisms and wonder of nature.

For more information on the event, contact Jennifer Holle in the College of Science Dean's Office at (979) 845-8817 or jholle@science.tamu.edu.

To learn more about the history of the Trotter Lecture Series and past presenters, visit http://www.science.tamu.edu/trotter/.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • John Lennox

  • Timothy Spector

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