Theologians and Scientists Observe Meaning of Suffering

( [email protected] ) Jul 20, 2004 05:06 PM EDT

American theologians will be participating in the concluding event of the 3rd Biennial International Meaning Conference, which runs from July 22 to 25, in Vancouver, with psychologists, scientists, and physicians, to address the issue on the most persistent questions of humanity, which is “suffering.”

The symposium, titled “The Gift of Suffering: Spiritual Transformation, Science & Medicine” will address such questions as: Why suffering? What is the meaning of pain, sickness, and death? How can individuals triumph over adversities? What can be done to transform fear to courage, doubt to faith, despair to hope, hate to forgiveness, and sorrow to joy?

The event is co-sponsored the International Network on Personal Meaning ( and the Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation. It is hosted by the Graduate Program in Counselling Psychology and the Psychology Department of Trinity Western University, B.C.

Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the event provides a rare opportunity for dialogue among three different fields of studies -- religion, science, and medicine exploring ways of transforming and transcending suffering, which is known as an inevitable aspect of the human existence.

Featuring speakers include:

Harold Koenig, MD, Duke University Medical School, will deliver the Distinguished Templeton Public Lecture, speaking on the role of meaning, purpose and hope in coping with suffering and pain from the perspective of integrating spirituality and medicine.

George Ellis, PhD, winner of this year’s prestigious Templeton Award in Religion, will also deliver a public lecture on the topic of suffering and joy and their relationship to rationality, faith and hope. His talk will be based on his vast knowledge of cosmology, humanity and religion.

Dr. Solomon Katz, President of Matanexus Institute of Science and Religion, and the Principle Investigator of the largest international research project on spiritual transformation, will speak on recent advances in the scientific study of spiritual transformation via video-conferencing.

Other speakers include Warren Brown, Ph.D. (Fuller Theological Seminary), Salvatore Maddi, Ph.D. (UC, Irvine), Richard Tedeschi Ph.D. (University of North Carolina), D. Cechetto, Ph.D. (University of Western Ontario), Phil Zylla, D.Th. (ACTS Seminary) and Nancy Reeves, Ph.D. (Psychologist and author). They will further expand the frontiers of the positive psychology of resilience by exploring the role of courage, hardiness, theology, story-telling, and personal growth in the face of loss, illness and death