Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman is a sought-out teacher, presenter, and scholar-in-residence about religion and science, and goes throughout the country. He can come to your community for a full scholar-in-residence, a Shabbaton, an adult education class that spans several weeks, or even just a Sunday morning or a weeknight presentation.
Here are a few of the topics he can speak about. Please contact us to discuss details.
Has Science Replaced God?
For centuries, religion provided answers for our ancestors to all of life’s questions. But as modern Jews, we usually look to science to tell us where we came from, who we are, or even how we should act. So how should we look at, think about and talk about the relationship between science and religion in today’s world?
How do we define “intelligence” and how do we define “artificial”? Does AI have consciousness? A soul? And while traditional Jewish texts wouldn’t know about ChatGPT, what analogies can we draw from Biblical, Rabbinic and later Jewish texts?
The Cosmos and the Covenant — Just How Special Are We?
As we discover more exoplanets, and learn just how expansive our universe is, how do we situate ourselves in the cosmos? Are we insignificant, or are we special?
There Are Places I Remember — How Memory Works, and How It Doesn’t
As Jews, we constantly recall the past and seek to bring it into the present. So what do current scientific findings say about the way memory works? Why do we remember some things and not others? Is memory an accurate record of the past — and how does that question shape who we are?
The Evolution of Morality
When we think about Darwinian evolution, we often think about fierce competition for resources, or how our genes influence our kids’ height, or how it might clash with religious teachings. But in fact, evolution by natural selection can help us understand the roots of morality, which can then inform Jewish law and Jewish ethics.
Go With The “Flow” — Using Science and Judaism to Find (and Create) More Happiness and Joy
What’s the difference between “happiness” and “joy”? Why are we so bad at predicting (and doing) what will make us happy? And how can Judaism and Jewish tradition give us more fulfillment in our lives?
Who’s in Charge Here? How We Make Choices
Every day, we make choices. But how conscious are we of the choices we make? Why do we make poor choices, and so often regret what we’ve done? Why do we give into our baser impulses? What do Jewish texts teach us about how we act in this world? And how can we be more effective in our decision-making process?
Who Do You Think You Are? Awareness, Consciousness and the Construction of the “Self”
We tend to think that “who we are” is something relatively stable. But in fact, our concept of the “self” is really a fiction – it’s a story we create. What does that truly mean? And how does it compare to what does Rabbinic literature has to say about “who we are”?
The Science of G’milut Chasadim
What blocks us from being compassionate, and what engenders more compassion in others? How do we respond to people who are different from us, or who might hold different beliefs?
Is Neuroscience Undercutting Moral Responsibility?
As we discover more and more about the brain, will neuroscientific “explanations” about moral behavior become “excuses”? How “free” are we, and how would we even know?
Is Genetic Engineering Allowing Us to Play God?
As CRISPR helps us edit genes, new technology floods us with reams of new information instantly, and immortality seemingly within our grasp, is science replacing God? What happens as our ethical and religious structures struggle to keep up?