In May 2019, over 25 alumni of the Sinai and Synapses Fellowship came together to discuss topics they were working on in their own personal or professional fields. Those conversations generated several podcasts, and this one, focusing on “Science and Religion Playing in the Sandbox,” features Adam Pryor, Ruth Shaver, Gawain de Leeuw and Ian Binns, and was hosted by Kat Robison.
Religion and science often explore the question of “what if?” Those questions generate ideas, readings, and interpretations, all following certain laws and rules. In other words, both religion and science often “play.” Where does joy and celebration come from in those fields? How do restrictions and guidelines foster creativity?Read Transcript
Hi, I’m Rabbi Geoff Mitelman, founding director of Sinai and Synapses. Sinai and Synapses bridges the worlds of religion and science, offering people a worldview that is scientifically grounded and spiritually uplifting, and is incubated at Clal, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. The following podcast is a project of our Sinai and Synapses fellowship, a select interfaith group of clergy, scientists and writers who are committed to elevating the discourse surrounding religion and science. To find out more about the fellowship and our other programs, or to help support our work, please visit us online at SinaiandSynapses.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you very much.
Applications are open for the Sinai and Synapses Fellowship through December 4th 2019. If you’re interested in exploring some of the biggest, most challenging, most crucial questions we’re facing in this world, and want to learn from experts and peers and colleagues from across the diverse realm of academic and intellectual and political and geographic worlds, then we encourage you to apply. Go to SinaiandSynapses.org, and applications are open until December 4th, 2019.
This particular episode is about science and religion “playing in the sandbox.” How does play help us understand the rules of the game for both science and religion? How can they help us better understand and create more joy in the work that we do? This conversation features Adam Pryor, Ruth Shaver, Gawain de Leeuw, Ian Binns, and Kat Robison.
Adam Pryor: One of the pieces of research that I’ve been working on a lot lately are thinking about how different ways of modeling how science and religion interact with each other. Usually we talk about conflict or we talk about independence, sometimes we talk about ways in which they engage or overlap or maybe even do the same thing. But more and more lately, I’ve been thinking about play, and the ways in which both religion and science may be thought of as different sorts of play. And so there’s a quote from a philosopher and psychologist that I really like, to talk about the idea of play.
She says it’s counterfactuals. Play is all about this special thing called counterfactuals. And that sounds like a fancy word, but it’s not. It really means the “woulda-coulda-shouldas of life,” as she puts it. And I’ll quote her here – her name’s Alison Gopnik.
“All the things that might happen in the future, but haven’t yet, or that could have happened in the past, but didn’t quite. Human beings care deeply about those possible worlds—as deeply as they care about the real actual world.”
And this idea got me thinking in different ways about how it is that both religion and science are setting up their own sorts of counterfactuals. That they help us imagine different ways of playing. And that maybe if we start thinking about these as play, there are various ways that we can relate science and religion that we’ve maybe been closing off. So I’m excited about the people who are here, because I would be curious to know where it is that you think play comes up in the various things that you do, either as pastors or teaching. Where does play factor into the ways that you think about the job that you do?
Kat Robison: Well, I study space policy, so I get to think about going to space all the time. And I think that there’s not a lot of people who are interested in space exploration that aren’t interested in daydreaming, and imagining, and considering what the future may look like, whether that’s through imagining through Star Trek or Star Wars or whichever one of those. But a lot of times when you’re thinking up a mission or you’re thinking of where to go next, a lot of that is play, maybe not what we were thinking of the traditional sense, but you are getting together and you’re just throwing out the possibilities of what could be.
I was in a working group thinking of how we would use a deep space gateway a couple years ago, interstitial inner space, what was then called NASA In Advanced Exploration Systems but is now NASA Lunar Exploration and Landing or something (the name has very recently changed). And we were just imagining possibilities, and I was just like, “What if we have bespoke manufacturing in space?” So you need this this thing, you make it, like there’s a pod system, we have all these different things.
And it’s funny because everyone who was with me had much more of an engineering background or a science background, whereas I have a very diverse background. And they’re just like “What does bespoke mean?” And I like fashion – not that, like, I’m really into high fashion, but like, I’m interested in how people make clothes. And so I know that from that context, like a bespoke suit. And so I explained it and they’re like “that’s weird.” But they decided to adopt it, and they’re like, “You have to define this when we present this to the larger group, define it.”
Two years later, I ran into one of the guys from that on the plane, Jason is his name, and he said, “You know what, Kat, I hear bespoke all the time now, and I think of you every time I hear it. I was just recently at a very large space symposium, and I heard people talk about bespoke manufacturing on at least 3 or 4 separate occasions.”
And so this idea that sort of came up from imagining and playing with the possibilities of what could be happening – it’s now pretty standard to call manufacturing in space around the deep space gateway as bespoke manufacturing. So I think at least in of Space Policy and space exploration, play is an everyday aspect, because you have to play with the possibilities.
Ruth Shaver: Well, I play with scripture all the time, because that’s how sermons come about, you know, and I like playing with scripture because one of the things that I enjoy doing on occasion is presenting a scriptural story in the first person, and so imagining the world around a character who may not even actually be in the story on paper, but who could have been there. One of the things I have done is imagine being a servant of the disciples at the Last Supper.
And I’ve imagined being the Woman at the Well, and she changes every time I do her. It’s pretty easy for me to imagine being Ruth. (laughs) It’s also very easy for me to imagine being Esther, because that’s my middle name. There are other women in the Bible, and sometimes women who don’t have names, like the Woman at the Well. And I like playing with that, because part of what that does, then, is set free the sacred imagination. Wil Gafney from Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth talks about midrash and how that’s imagining things and filling in the gaps. And I love that, because there’s the level of what we get on paper, and then there’s everything, you know, that had to have happened behind the scenes to make the story.
And another thing that I really enjoyed doing is writing – I call them old-fashioned radio scripts, and having multiple voices characterizing these things. And when I created it with a previous church, the tag line was “we’re serious enough about Scripture to dirty up the scenery.”
And to kind of give some of those things life. Like my favorite one was the two boys that were John and Peter, and a couple of different things, from Acts. And I purposely made that antagonistic, because the boys had that relationship, and they played into it so beautifully, they just loved that. And then I swapped them and they had to play the opposite roles, and they got just as much meat out of it. And it was so joyous to see that. So that’s one way that I see play as an important part of religion.
Gawain De Leeuw: So I think the idea invites even some reflection upon God, because it’s possible to think of God as a player. I don’t mean – is a playa. (laughter) Which, if play is fundamentally a type of communication, that’s making a comment about how God communicates through the cosmos, which I think has some analog in probability. It also, in theology, allows God some freedom, or it insists that God is free. And it also can help explain surprise. It doesn’t necessarily help explain tragedy, of course, but it frees us from being marionettes.
I think, as an Episcopalian and as an Anglican, that liturgy is a type of play. In fact, the novelist Amit Chaudhuri once wrote, I think offhand, this exact sentiment, that “ritual is adults at play.” And then I also think of scientific research as requiring a kind of ritual behavior, that includes gathering data, making experiments, creating experiments, doing a series of things that look like a game, and seeing what happens. And when we think of much of the work that we do, they’re rule-bound, a lot like game theory, the way game theory is rule-bound. And so I think there’s a lot of overlap between the two, religion and science. And certainly, the stakes of each game are a little bit different. Ideally, in the game of Christianity, you’re learning to love more people, or you’re learning to reach out of yourself more directly in the culture that you’re in. Maybe in science, the role of play is a deeper understanding, or some other object. But certainly I think the two are essential to he project each one is engaged in.
I find it hard to imagine my own congregational life to be interesting if it did not have play. And since we’re in, right now, an environment where people do not need to go to church – if it’s not fun, why do it, right? We can do all sorts of other things that aren’t enjoyable. Not to say that the purpose of church is just a party all the time, but –
Ruth Shaver: Jesus was a party animal, you know.
Gawain de Leeuw: That is true, no, absolutely, and there is also the promise of the wedding feast, the banquet at the end of time, which is one of the most important ways of understanding our shared life together. So in that sense, I find play to be very interesting. The one thing that I want to affirm more is this connection between playing and communication, and that if God is a type of communication, or God represents the cosmic information of value that pervades the cosmos, then maybe play is the prime way God communicates. And sometimes the rules are crazy, and what happens is bizarre.
Kat Robison: I think we can certainly be sure that God has a sense of humor.
Gawain de Leeuw: Yes, yes.
Ian Binns: So I think of – you know, Adam, when you talked about how we view play, one of the things I do with my class – so I teach future elementary teachers how to teach science – is I teach them, you know, I first start off with having them understand again what science is, and why they shouldn’t be afraid of it, and why they shouldn’t be afraid to teach it. Because we know that a lot of – at least the research tells us for decades now at least that a lot of people who become elementary teachers tend not appreciate science, or they have a false idea of what it is, or they’re just scared of it. I’m scared of teaching it especially.
And so I try to get them to realize why it’s so much fun again. And a lot of that does involve the idea of play. And I will, in our activities, in our conversations, while we’re doing lessons in my class, try to talk about the importance of making everything hands on, which is a form of play in the classroom, but using that to talk about “this is how your instruction in any area will become stronger and better instruction when it comes to science, math, whatever,” if it’s something it’s hands-on/minds-on, right, which you can argue is a form of play. And that’s kind of how I incorporate play in my professional life when it comes to teaching. And I think if you asked any of my students, they would show you or they would probably agree that I definitely am – I like to play, I like to have fun doing what it is I do, just so that they can be, or learn to appreciate, our profession more, I guess, and help them better understand why just teaching in general is so amazing, but then also teaching science.
So that’s kind of how I deal with it in my professional life, and I’m still kind of grappling with the question to see how I deal with it within my world of science and religion.
Adam Pryor: One of the questions I have for you is: when we think about how people know things – and theology, one of the primary ways we acknowledge, we see, the world, is through analogy, right. Now, I remember a science teacher saying to me, or she was telling me about a game where they would take magnifying glasses and look at insects and the like, saying that the children would make analogies out of these observations.
And I wonder whether or not there is a type of knowledge in science which I often think of as mainly causal – you look at one thing and you try to show one thing leads to another, for example. Whereas religion emphasizes – it may have some causality, it might have some analogy, but to what extent is analogy as a type of knowledge, do you think, important to science, and can you inculcate that?
Ian Binns: So I think that with that – so I’m going to come from a perspective as just a science educator. Within the science education realm and within teaching in general, we know that if we can help the students relate to what it is we’re teaching, they’ll learn it better. So when you talk about moon phases, for example, that’s a good example, a lot of people think about moon phases and if they just see it as an abstract type of concept, they’re not going to remember it, they’re not going to learn it. But if you can start off a lesson on moon phases by figuring out a way to relate it to their personal experiences, you’ll grab them better, and then they’ll learn better and we know that, and the research is clear. So that’s where I think, when it comes to analogy within science education is, you know, that, you can argue is a form of analogy. You try to make sure you bring it home to them.
So for example, when you do – so one of my former students, this is her first year teaching. She’s a kindergarten teacher, I was so proud of her for doing this, she ended up doing a “clean up day” at her school, with the whole school, and she did it on her own. You know, she reached out to me for support, and I talked her through it and gave her some ideas, but this was something she initiated in her very first year as a teacher, which was really amazing.
But one of the things that I really wanted to emphasize with her, the importance of it, is that making sure that while doing these types of projects with your students is very good because it helps them, you know, appreciate where they are more and stuff like that, you know, you want to try to incorporate some sort of instruction within that, and then again, depending on what grade you’re at and what the content needs to be that you address, you now have a way to relate what they’re learning based on what they just did, their actions. One of the concerns we have within teaching is that people will do fun things just to do fun things, and they won’t have any instruction involved with it.
Gawain de Leeuw: Sort of like the way I tried to teach my congregation how to sip from the chalice by using wine tasting.
Ruth Shaver: Oh, okay.
Ian Binns: You know, they can relate to [that]. Or – so one of the things, I’m Episcopalian as well, in the church I go to, the rector of our church is very, very good at taking the reading of the day and relating it to us now, right. I have sat through sermons in other locations throughout my life where when I’ve left I thought, “OK, that was an interesting sermon, but I can’t really see how that applies to me now,” so I don’t remember it. The ones that I feel like can be related to me in my life now, or at least this timeframe of society, I usually can remember at least the general idea. That’s the same thing with teaching.
Kat Robison: So what I would come back to you, Adam, and maybe ask you to address from listening to all of this, is: obviously play is an important aspect of each of these conversations, but just listening to your conversation now brings to mind sort of like, the trend of gamification when it comes to learning, because we know that it works. But I don’t necessarily know that, when it comes to religion, that gamification is the best way. So I would just invite your comment on that and maybe it is, maybe we make religion a game.
Adam Pryor: Well I guess I would press and say, “When was religion not a game?”
I mean, quite seriously, right, I mean, it has all of the characteristics that we think of as a game. There are particular rules that if you violate, you’re cast out, right. If you point out that those rules are poor, you’re called a spoilsport and you’re cast out. (laughter) You see, there’s a pattern here.
But there’s a freedom within those sets of rules to try and explore new spaces, right, to try new things. I mean, I love this image of liturgy as a form of play. For me, it very much is, right. These are these are spaces where you can you can develop that. I think one of the hindrances to thinking of play, whether related to science or related to religion, is that we don’t think of it as serious, right. Play is what we do for fun, it’s not serious work, right, so we put it aside. And it’s, you know, “You do that over here when you’re a child, but then you grow up and you put those things away.”
So instead, if we think of play as a form of serious work, then I think if we do these sorts of ways of helping people communicate across difference…
Kat Robison: That’s very interesting, because one of the other things that I do in my daily life is I run a mentoring program for underrepresented graduate students. And the one thing that I’m always encouraging them to do is – “I don’t care what your lab supervisor says, or your advisor says, you have to take time off for fun. And you’re not doing that, because I mean, you need a break, but also taking that time for play and relaxation, actually improves your work when you’re back. So that – that’s not why you’re doing it you, need to do for your mental health, but you will be a better researcher, a better student, and just, you know, a happier person, probably, in your graduate career if you take that time, and you do something that you really enjoy.”
And I think, you know, play has a connotation of enjoyment, you’re not playing if you’re not having fun. And so like the importance of play and the importance of enjoyment in life.
Adam Pryor: Yes, so when my son is really upset, I’ll look very sternly at him as my father did with me, and tell him, “You’ll play and you’ll enjoy it.” (laughter)
And you immediately get the sense, right, that play is something different. It can’t work that way, the same way that we often, right – as a college professor there are times where I want to sit down with students and say “you just have to do this, right, and get through it.” Whereas play invites us into choosing to do these things in important ways.
Ian Binns: And the implication around it, as you said, you get this idea that teaching is not considered a serious profession, and you know, you hear that little adage of “those who can teach…” which drives me crazy.
But what I find fascinating is that I think if people actually stepped back and tried to become teachers, they would realize that if we don’t have play involved, they wouldn’t be able to do it, because it’s such a challenging profession. And yes, my focus is to help my students become future science teachers, but I look at it as bigger than that, that my focus is to help them become future teachers and to work with children. And so I teach them to enjoy the job, I teach them to enjoy their profession, and I also help them better understand – this is one of the first things that I do in the semester, is to see why, as teachers, they have so much [more] power than they think they do, right, and that society says they do. And then teach them about how to play with that, how to incorporate play into their daily life, so that they don’t take that too seriously, but they’re still really good at it, if that makes sense.
Ruth Shaver: Well, and my doctoral work was about science and faith, and about play and wonder, and using playing with scientific ideas as a practice of Christian faith. And the scriptural basis for it was Proverbs 8:22-31, so 27-31 – and I apologize, this is the NRSV – so it’s not inclusive with its God language. But:
“When God established the heavens, I was there [Lady Wisdom]. When He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above, when He established the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limits, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, I was there beside him like a master worker, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.”
And there are some translations that use “playing” instead of “delighting,” which I just love, because here’s this image of what should be the fourth person of the quadrilateral, instead of only three people with the Trinity, that feminine aspect of God, present and playing in what God has just created out of God’s imagination.
And your comment about God being a communicator is just so powerful, and one of the things that I did in the culmination of my work was to say, you know, as adults, we forget just how much we do play in the world. Because every time you go into the kitchen and vary from a recipe, you’re playing. Every time you go plant a garden, you’re playing, because you don’t know what the actual outcome’s gonna be. You know, you might do the exactly the same thing you’ve done before and it’s not going to yield the same result. You know, every time you do something that’s creative, you’re playing. And all of that, to me, is reflective of the image of God within us, because God as a creator, I think that’s where they created the image of God is within any individual being. And this goes back to your whole idea of astrobiology, that, you know, if they’re creative, is that reflective of the image of God?
Gawain de Leeuw: And one thing that I would add is that these metaphors of “play” and “game” actually provide us ways of, or provide us platforms, to learn and to understand. Because if you can conceive of different environments as certain traits of games – going into a party where you don’t know who knows who, but you have to play with these people, and there is kind of a game of communication, who knows who, the like, what do you say to the host. You’re around a dinner table, you don’t know where all the land mines are – when you begin to understand that there is some sort of game and that you are playing a part, it becomes maybe a little bit easier because you know you can make mistakes, because you don’t know the rules.
Likewise, when it just comes to learning almost anything, when we’re in a society which mainly rewards expertise but gives a very few people, unless you’re an educator, clues about how to get from 0 to 1 or 1000, people are inhibited from actually allowing themselves to fail, because when you’re playing, you are testing the rules of the game. You’re figuring out what works, what doesn’t work. In the playground, the children are challenging each other about what the actual rules are, you’ve got one person who is constantly changing the rules, which is also part of the game to some extent. And who does have the authority to change rules? Well, is it the bishop or is it the priest? Or is it some guy who wrote in a text what the liturgy is supposed to be 150 years ago? And when you see the limits of those rules work, then maybe you have to change the rules of the game later, then the play becomes different. Play is to me essential to learning, and learning how to learn. or I admire those people who have game nights in their families – I find it ridiculous. (laughter) I mean, I am not like that at all, but the people who do seem to be the most psychologically healthy, because they’re just playing games.
Kat Robison: So I’ve been thinking about about what enables play, and I mean, lots of things enable play, but one thing – I think I’m influenced by this article, I think I read it two years ago, about the importance of boredom, and how we don’t let people be bored anymore. And I was just thinking back to my childhood, there were so many days where I was so bored. So I either picked up a book so I could let my imagination play. I love reading and still love reading for that reason. But also where you just invented games. And even now, like, boredom is so useful for me in terms of creativity and enabling play. Because if I get bored with what I’m doing, I’m like, well how can this more interesting? How can I play with this concept? How can I, you know, rationalize doing my coursework still for my doctorate? You know, you get stuck in those classes that have nothing to do with your research and you’re like, “this is boring.” So what did I do, I provoked the person who was the loudest in the class to start long conversations and debates, and I would argue positions I didn’t agree in, and just because, you know, it made the time go by. And that in itself is an important form of play, because you learn how to sort of move yourself along to the next step. And I’m just thinking about, you know, how do we enable and create space for play to happen organically and naturally.
Ian Binns: One of the things that I think is interesting when you talk about teaching, you know, I was a high school science teacher, but I found that while I was teaching high school science, when I looked at curriculum materials for activities, there were many times I would go down to elementary level curriculum materials and just add the content needed to make it harder. Because those activities were more fun, and they were more interactive, they’re much more engaging than a lot of times what you’d see. That’s changed now, but some people would push back on me and say “why are you using this stuff in the 4th grade curriculum resource?” And I’d say, because this is fun. And I add the content students are gonna learn.
But that’s one of the issues that I do have with education in general, is that you see that typically (but now with all the testing, that’s changed), but you hear about how at the beginning of a person’s career as a student, when they start kindergarten, that it’s more fun, it’s more interactive, and it’s more hands on. And as we go on, you start moving more into the lecture-based and boring. I have a big problem with that, because you then lose the benefit of that field, of teaching in general, and people think of teaching as just – you’re up there regurgitating information. We see this in college, those of us who are college professors or have instructed at the level at all, is that, you know, and I make a hard effort for my classes to be fun. Even when I recently switched from a three-hour format to an hour-and-fifteen format twice a week. But I’d loved the three-hour format, and I mean we moved – we moved. And students always said that they were never bored in my class. Even in an 8 o’clock three-hour-long class, they would always be excited, because they knew I was going to get them moving and thinking and doing something. And that’s one of the issues that I have a hard time with, because of this negative connotation of the word “play.”
Gawain de Leeuw: I think we need more educators like that in churches. Because I – so I shifted my own education so that I’m not talking about the History of Book of Common Prayer, I’m actually saying we’re going to get up and I want to take a physical spot and I’m going to show you how to physically do the morning office and I’m going to teach you how to bow, so just lie on the ground prostrate for 20 seconds, see how that feels – I get resistance. Because they were more prepared for like, “the lecture”. But by the time we’re done, because they’re physical, they’ll remember it. And unfortunately adults, by the time they’re 50 or whatever, they’re not prepared to think of play or learning in this other kinetic way. So I wonder whether or not that’s one reason it’s hard to bring children into church, because there’s still – I mean, many churches have tried to do kinetic stuff, but that lecture model [persists].
Adam Pryor: I think there’s something really important about the body in play, right. Immediately, almost immediately, right, we think of play, we can’t help but think of bodies in motion, getting up and doing things. And I think in religion and science dialogue, that’s really important. We can really quickly become entirely cerebral. These are ideas that conflict, and we just sort of pound them into each other, right. We forget the idea that these are scientists and theologians with lived practices of their bodies doing this work that becomes integral to the way that we want to talk about how you have that conversation. So I do have a question, because I like play, I’m clearly in favor it, but I wonder if one of my hesitations is that maybe play can be done well, or play can be done poorly. So I’m wondering, where do we start to identify where play happens in a way that we can really support, where we think it’s helpful, and where does play break down, maybe it’s not as helpful a concept for us anymore. What does it mean to play badly?
Ian Binns: Well, I think it depends on the context and where you’re at. You know, if [you’re] outside running around and goofing off, you know, playing badly would be obviously if you get violent or something, right. But if you’re just out playing and goofing off, and I really wouldn’t be worried about “what are they learning from this experience,” per se. But you know within a classroom setting or an informal education or something like a museum or church classes or something, if there’s play going on and there’s no reason for it, then that would be – I would argue is bad play, because it’s just to play, if you don’t have something behind it. So if you’re trying to get a concept out to your students or just to whoever you’re working with, if you’re just saying “Let’s just do this fun little science activity here, we’re going to make a volcano and blow something up,” and then you do that, “Ok, that was fun everyone, let’s go, we’re done,” and you don’t really get into the discussion about what makes a volcano and why did we put these things together, then you’re not really learning anything. So that’s why I said earlier about the importance of hands-on/minds-on. Because there’s a lot of instruction, or not a lot, but there is instruction that goes on in classrooms where it’s just the hands-on part and you don’t really – there’s no purpose.
Kat Robison: I just want to clarify that you are saying, within the context where you should be learning something, if you’re not learning something along with your play, that’s bad. Not that play with no purpose is bad. Just wanted to make that very very clear for our listeners, you can get lost in listening to a conversation and say, “Wait did he just say play was bad?”
Ian Binns: No, and I appreciate that, play is good. That’s why I say “with the context.”
Ruth Shaver: It is completely contextual. I can think of, even in a church nursery, where there is not an age-appropriate faith based curriculum, just having children playing together. who maybe only see each other once a week, is a learning environment, where they’re learning to inter-operate and learning to be in relationship. So you know, there may not be a formal curriculum there that’s church-based, but that opportunity to come together and play together is pro-social in that sense.
I used to get irritated because I had youth groups who would say “we just want to play tonight.” Yeah, no, that doesn’t work. We will have a game night where we will just focus on that, but at least six out of every seven weeks, or seven out of every eight weeks, there’s got to be some kind of lesson in our youth group, and that kind of thing. Because it wasn’t just about socialization, it was about building the faith of the group. And once they got to that point, they were like, “Oh, ok, so what’s our lesson today!?” because I did try to make it fun, and do those kinds of things where they were up and moving, you know, integrating and play-acting and that kind of stuff. But even roleplay, the word “play” is right in there. And sometimes we forget that that’s a form of playing. It’s taking on another person, another character. Dramatics and theater arts and sacred dance in church, and you know, those kinds of things can be very playful, but also have a very serious purpose to them.
Kat Robison: So this is such a productive conversation, I hate to have to bring it to a close, but we are running out of time. So Adam, I just want to invite you to share any closing thoughts you may have.
Adam Pryor: Sure. I think one of the interesting things, right, is that when we frame dialogue, whether it’s between religious traditions or between religion and science, or when we think about religion and teaching and how that happens, play is an inviting category. We can remember playing, we can think about playing, we know what it’s like to play. And that, in and of itself, I think, diffuses the tension that’s often felt when we try and have conversations on religion and science as very serious ideas with really threatening implications. So I would advocate play in this regard too, that it has this very specific function of de-escalating a situation before it can get out of control.
Kat Robison: Great! Well, I want to thank you and all of our panelists for joining us today. So thank you again Adam Pryor and Ruth [Shaver] and Gawain De Leeuw for joining us, and thank you to you, the listener, for coming along in this conversation, in this journey. And we would encourage you to incorporate play into your life. And if this conversation interested you, I also encourage you to check out what Sinai and Synapses has to offer. There are more podcast conversations, articles and videos and resources for you to check out, on how to be playful with this conversation between religion and science. So thank you, and we hope that you have a wonderful day.
Geoff Mitelman: Thanks so much for listening to this podcast created by the Sinai and Synapses Fellows. Sinai and Synapses bridges the worlds of religion and science, offering people a world view that is scientifically grounded and spiritually uplifting. It is fiscally sponsored and housed at Clal, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. The Sinai and Synapses Fellowship is supported by a grant secured by the Issachar fund and by individual donors.
To learn more about some of the topics that Sinai and Synapses explores — from genetic engineering to astrobiology, from political psychology to existential philosophy, from environmental ethics to artificial intelligence — please visit sinaiandsynapses.org follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Once again, I’m Rabbi Geoff Mitelman, founding director, wishing you all good things.