Bayreuth Church & University Forum
Bayreuth Forum Kirche und Universität (Bayreuth Church & University Forum) is an initiative to nurture dialogue between science, ethics, and theology. The Forum organises public conferences, which are held by experts from the University and churches in Bayreuth, together with national and international speakers in the field.
Bayreuth Forum Kirche und Universität is an institution of the University of Bayreuth and the two large local churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Deanery District of Bayreuth - Bad Berneck, and the Roman Catholic Deanery of Bayreuth. The forum has set itself the task of dealing with ethically relevant topics, and in doing so, also addresses the fundamental questions of faith and knowledge. Scientific work and theological-ethical enquiry should thus enter into a fruitful dialogue.
We appreciate your interest and would be pleased to provide you with further information at any time!
Current Forum members (selection):
Rev. Heinrich Busch, Rev. Simon Froben, Pastoral Advisor Barbara Göb, Dean Jürgen Gerhard Hacker, Dr. Matthias J. Kaiser, Rev. retired, Christoph von Knobelsdorff, Prof. Dr. Thomas Kriecherbauer, Prof. Dr. Markus Möstl, Prof. em. Prof. h.c. Dr. Wolfgang Schumann, Dean Dr. Josef Zerndl
Review of past events (partly in German):
In order to meet the increasing demand for care in the health sector, while at the same time facing a shortage of skilled workers, the use of robotics is becoming increasingly important. A wide variety of robots are being developed for different user groups and application situations. On the one hand, there are assistance robots that, for example, bring laundry from room to room and help nursing staff with mobilisation, and on the other hand, there are social robots, such as the seals Paro and Pepper, which were designed for targeted social interaction with humans. The machines raise hopes on the one hand, but also fears. Against this background, the lecture explores the question of how a responsible research and development practice can be designed that can meet the great demands of care. From the perspective of nursing science, theology, and ethics, the following questions arise: To what extent can and should original nursing activities, such as personal, trust-building relationship work, be supported, improved or (partially) replaced by robots? And to what extent can the use of robots do justice to the various facets of being human?
Christina Potschka, M.Ed.
University of Bamberg
The event on 21 November 2017 sought to explore the topic "Circulation of Ideas – Reformation Seeks Publicity".
The Reformation was not only a central event for faith, but also changed public life permanently. It used the new media to spread its ideas, which was then also adopted by the Catholic Church. And at the same time, it created a new understanding of work and the professions as action in public. Three short presentations, followed by a discussion, will highlight the upheavals of these years and their effects up to the present day.
Prof. Matthias Christen (Media Studies, University of Bayreuth): "Martin Luther – a media history of the Reformation", Regional Dean Dr. Josef Zerndl (Catholic Deanery Bayreuth): "Reform thanks to Reformation. The transformation of Catholic teachings and their dissemination in the public", and Rev. Christoph von Knobelsdorff (Bayreuth Forum Kirche and Universität): "The Reformation's reassessment of work".
On 27 October 2016, the topic of genetic engineering was addressed at an evening event at the Iwalewa House. Under the title "Hereditary building blocks – ought humans optimise his genes?", Prof. em. Dr Wolfgang Schumann (Bayreuth) approached the topic from a biological perspective and Prof. Dr Heinrich Wolff (Bayreuth) from a legal perspective. The theological-ethical lecture was given by Rev. Dr Guy Cliqué (Schwabach). This was followed by a moderated discussion.
The development of human genetics is about to revolutionise all our lives. The prenatal technique of detecting genetic defects presents expectant parents with difficult decisions. Will they accept their child even if they know it has a hereditary disease? In the future, new genetic engineering methods (such as CRISP-Cas) may make it possible to cure hereditary diseases by intervening in genomes. How should we deal with this as a society and as individuals?
On Tuesday, 5 July 2016, the Forum held a public evening event on the topic of "right-wing extremism". Dr Britta Schellenberg (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich) gave the introductory lecture and examined the topic from the perspective of applied political research. Church Councillor Rainer Schübel (Evangelical Church of Bavaria, Munich) presented a theological approach to the topic in the second lecture of the evening. Martin Becher (Project Office against Right-Wing Extremism, Bad Alexandersbad, and Managing Director of the Bavarian Alliance for Tolerance) was the host. A follow-up report appeared in Sonntagsblatt.
Thursday, 19 November 2015, 6 p.m., Iwalewa-Haus, Wölfelstraße 2
The choice of topic was prompted by the atrocious crimes committed by terrorist groups such as the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and "Islamic State" in the name of Islam. Exactly which passages in the Koran and Islamic tradition do they refer to, and how are these passages to be evaluated? But conversely, are there also words in the same sources that help to overcome violence and call for peace? Finally, what is the image of God behind the passages quoted?
In the same way, the Bible is to be examined for passages about violence. What is found about it in the Old Testament and also in the New Testament, and what effect have these biblical passages had in history? On the other hand, what words are there in the Bible that speak of overcoming violence and of peace? Here, too, we need to ask about the image of God expressed in the two parts of the Bible. What significance do the Bible's words of peace possibly have for modern liberal democracy?
How might an "ethic of peace" be developed from this encounter between Islam and Christianity?
Dr. Armina Omerika, University of Frankfurt (staff member at the Institute for Studies in the Culture and Religion of Islam), PD Dr. Dietrich Rusam, University of Bamberg (lecturer in Old and New Testament); Host: Prof. Paula Schrode, University of Bayreuth (Religious Studies with a Focus on Contemporary Islamic Cultures).
... was the title of the event that took place on Thursday, 15 January 2015 in the Iwalewa House. As part of the 40th anniversary of the University of Bayreuth, the first event of the "Bayreuth Forum Kirche und Universität" in 2015 highlighted the diverse connections of the University with the City, the churches, and society.
In addition to historical memories and a look at the present, future development prospects and potential were also to be considered. The contributors explored the following questions: How can the University encourage new developments for the City (culture)? Where can the University contribute to processes of social change? Where are there still points of contact between University research and teaching and the Church after the abandonment of its theological research groups?
University President Prof. Dr. Leible first spoke about the history, current focus, and future tasks of the University of Bayreuth. The former Lord Mayor of Bayreuth, Dr. Mronz, illuminated the relationship between the City and the University in recent decades from a municipal perspective. Bayreuth "Hausmann" Dr. Wührl-Struller undertook a satirical presentation of the relationship between local society and the University.
The panel discussion that followed was also attended by Mr Schlieszus for the Student Parliament, Rev. Dr Hirschberg as Protestant University Pastor, Dean Peetz for the Protestant and Regional Dean Dr Zerndl of the local Catholic Church. The host was Frank Schmälzle from the Nordbayrischen Kurier.
The topic of "Asylum" was the focus of the lecture event on 16 January 2014 on the campus of the University of Bayreuth. The two expert lectures were given by Dr. Albert Schmid (former President of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, Nuremberg): "Is asylum law in Germany still up to date?", and Rev. Andreas Lipsch (Chairman of Pro Asyl, the federal working group and support association): "Ethical considerations on the situation of protection and asylum seekers in Germany".
The subsequent panel discussion was also organised by Johann Hümmer (Head of the Department of Security, Municipalities and Social Affairs, Government of Upper Franconia), lawyer Wolfram Steckbeck (Nuremberg), Prof. Bernd Müller-Jacquier (University of Bayreuth), Dolores Longares-Bäumler (Caritas Bayreuth), and Asha Noppeney. The evening was hosted by Editor-in-Chief Joachim Braun (Nordbayerischer Kurier).
On Tuesday, 25 June 2013, Bayreuther Forum Kirche und Universität celebrated its 10th anniversary with a public event on the campus of the University of Bayreuth. After a greeting by the Dean of the Bayreuth Evangelical Lutheran Deanery, Hans Peetz, the Executive Director of the Forum, Rev. Christoph von Knobelsdorff, looked back on the successful events of the past decade with a multimedia review. This was followed by greetings from the Regional Dean of the Archdiocese of Bamberg, Dr Josef Zerndl, the Provost of the University of Bayreuth, Dr Markus Zanner, and the President of the Government of Upper Franconia, Wilhelm Wenning. The concluding keynote speech was given by Prof. Thomas Foken (Bayreuth) on the topic of "Global Change and Moral Responsibility".
The event on 8 November 2012 was entitled "Evolution – and God? Natural science and faith in God in conflict". Speakers were Prof. Dr Wolfgang Schoberth, theologian (Erlangen) and Prof. Dr rer. nat. Wolfgang Schumann, geneticist (Bayreuth).
Cosmological and biological evolution is one of the basic premises of our modern world view, which most Christians also share. But can evolution and creation really be reconciled so easily? Isn't the biblical idea that God works in nature, in history, and also in our lives finally repudiated by everything having come into being "by itself"? Is there still room for an intervening God? Conversely, if God himself is the secret motor behind all of evolution, is there still any individual freedom, or is the whole world just one big divine puppet theatre? This evening organised by Bayreuther Forum Kirche und Universität is dedicated to these difficult but elementary questions of faith. It will begin with a short introductory talk on the theory of evolution (Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Wolfgang Schumann). The main lecture will be given by the Protestant theology professor Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schoberth (Chair of Systematic Theology at the University of Erlangen). He is regarded as a distinguished expert and has published various papers on the subject.
Evangelisches Bildungswerk Bayreuth/ Bad Berneck/ Pegnitz e.V.; Evangelische Studierendengemeinde Bayreuth (ESG)
The topic of this event was PGS ("An ideal baby via genetic testing? Pregnancy on trial?") and took place on 19 June 2012 with the speakers Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Wolfgang Schumann and Prof. Dr. med. Dr. phil. Dr. theol. h. c. Eckhard Nagel (both University of Bayreuth) on the campus of the University of Bayreuth.
All parents want to have mentally and physically healthy children. Nevertheless, some families are affected by hereditary diseases that can dramatically limit and shorten the lives of their children. Some children die in the womb or in the first years of life due to hereditary diseases. Therefore, many parents burdened with a hereditary disease want to know before birth whether their foetus will be affected by hereditary disease, in order to terminate the pregnancy in the worst case. In 1958, ultrasound examination of the foetus was conducted for the first time and further developed, meaning that it is possible today to detect structural malformations of foetal organs with a high degree of diagnostic certainty. In 1966, amniocentesis was introduced, in which embryonic cells are taken from the amniotic fluid in the fourth month of pregnancy and examined for genetic defects. Since mid-2011, it has been possible to carry out these genetic tests as early as the third week of pregnancy using embryonic cells obtained from the mother-to-be's blood. This technique, which is completely harmless for mother and embryo, opens up a new dimension in preventing the transmission of hereditary diseases. Does our society tolerate the taking of blood by the family doctor and the sending of a sample to a company that carries out genetic analysis? Only in the presence of hereditary diseases or even as a routine check? With or without detailed counselling by a human geneticist? Who pays the costs (€ 500-1000) for the genetic analysis? In two lectures the medical and the ethical side of this new technique will be explained with examples and then discussed.
Ambulanter Beratungs- und Servicedienst (ABS) des Diakonischen Werkes Bayreuth, Evangelisches Bildungswerk Bayreuth / Bad Berneck / Pegnitz e.V., Evangelische Studierendengemeinde Bayreuth (ESG)
The event on Thursday, 24 November 2011, 8 p.m. in H32 (FAN), which took place in cooperation with the Nordbayerischer Kurier (hosted by Joachim Braun, Editor-in-Chief), revolved around the topic of "Corruption - Everyone has their price...!".
Dr Tanja Rabl, Chair of Human Resources and Leadership, University of Bayreuth (presentation: "'What price the world?' Corruption - its causes and consequences"); Senior Public Prosecutor Thomas Janovsky, Bayreuth (panel); Klaus von Schoenebeck, Institute for Executive Risk Prevention Management (panel); Dr Peter Fries, Transparency International, Nuremberg (panel); and Dr Thomas Zeilinger, Institute for Personality and Ethics, Munich (panel).
On 20 May 2011, the Forum announced a symposium on the topic of "Different, but no worse – Life in 2050 with 2°C global warming. In Cancun, the global community committed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. In order to achieve this goal, huge efforts will have to be made that will affect all areas of life. The forum asked what the imperative to prevent further global warming of the earth will mean for life in 2050. Chaired by Prof. Thomas Foken, the speakers were: Boris Palmer, Mayor of the City of Tübingen; Dr.-Ing. André Stoffels, Audi Corporate Planning, Ingolstadt; Dr. Thomas Zeilinger, Institute "Personality and Ethics", Fürstenfeldbruck.
Evangelisches Bildungswerk Bayreuth/ Bad Berneck/ Pegnitz e.V.; Evangelische Studierendengemeinde Bayreuth (ESG)
On 3 December 2010, the event "What use is biodiversity to us? – On the global crisis in biodiversity" took place. Prof. Dr Carl Beierkuhnlein, Prof. Dr Thomas Köllner, Prof. Dr Niels Gottschalk-Mazouz, and PD Dr Arne Manzeschke discussed this question chaired by Dr Camilla Wellstein.
For the year 2010, the United Nations has called for an increased focus on the protection of plant and animal species. The background to this is that a large number of species worldwide are now threatened and many are already extinct. The reasons for this lie primarily in human behaviour in dealing with nature, such as land use for the cultivation of oil, energy, and fibrous plants for industrialised countries, unsustainable land use, exploitation of natural forests and mineral resources, fragmentation of landscapes and, in the future, increasingly global warming. The keynote speech will be given by Prof. Dr. Carl Beierkuhnlein, University of Bayreuth, who also advises the Bavarian State Government on biodiversity issues. Under the title of "What is the use of biodiversity?" he will first discuss the global and regional situation of plant and animal species, and then the question of what advantage we humans have from biodiversity and what the consequences of its further destruction would be for us. In a subsequent presentation, Prof. Dr. Thomas Köllner will address the topic of "Business and Biodiversity". The United Nations accuses the world's large corporations of serious failures in environmental protection. Prof. Dr. Niels Gottschalk-Mazouz, University of Bayreuth, from a philosophical perspective, and PD Dr. Arne Manzeschke, University of Bayreuth, from a theological perspective, will then comment on the ethical evaluation of the problem and seek to define the appropriate treatment of plants and animals. This will be followed by a discussion with the audience.
The Bayreuther Forum Kirche und Universität on 13 November 2009 was dedicated to the topic of "'Research is the best medicine.' Causes and therapies of cancer". The keynote presentation was given by Prof. Dr. rer.nat. Jürgen Behrens, Experimental Medicine, from the University of Erlangen, and titled "the Molecular basis of cancer development and forms of therapy". The co-lecture from the medical perspective was given by Prof. Dr. med. Augustinus Tulusan, Klinikum Bayreuth, titled "Die Möglichkeiten der individualisierten Krebsbehandlung (Personalising Cancer Care)". In a subsequent panel discussion, practical aspects were discussed, such as environmental pollution as a possible risk factor, questions of ethics, and opportunities for counselling and pastoral care. The speakers were joined in the discussion by: Dr. Manfred Löbl, Government of Upper Franconia, Head of Environment, Health, Consumer Protection; Rev. Johannes Steiner, Bayreuth Hospital, Hospital Chaplaincy; and Karin Schulz, Bavarian Cancer Society, Cancer Counselling Centre Bayreuth. Andreas Rietschel from the Nordbayerischer Kurier acted as host.
On 3 July 2009, the impact of the global financial and economic crisis on the labour market in Germany was discussed under the topic of "Money gambled away - jobs gone? In a keynote speech, Dr. Ulrich Walwei, vice-director of the state-run "Institute for Labour Market and Employment Research" (Nuremberg) presented possible options for action. In a co-presentation, the industrial and social pastor Dr. Roland Pelikan from the Protestant institute "Kirche in der Arbeitswelt" (Nuremberg/Munich) explored ethical values in business and gave guidance on the proper valuing work.
On 14 November 2008, the Forum was dedicated to the topic of "Globalisation and Poverty". Two lectures first explored the question of why economic globalisation is causing the gap between rich and poor to widen in practically all countries. In a subsequent panel discussion, solutions to this problem were explored.
On 30 June 2008, the Forum organised a panel discussion on the topic of "There is no God – or is there? On the new atheism controversy (Richard Dawkins, "The God Delusion", etc.)".
For some years now, there have been a number of authors who vehemently criticise religions and reject belief in a God. This includes in particular Richard Dawkins and his book "The God Delusion", which has become a bestseller. The old dispute about atheism has thus flared up anew. The experience of 11 September 2001 is certainly significant for the authors, but their arguments are of a general nature and are based primarily on scientific and moral grounds.
Against this background, Bayreuther Forum Kirche und Universität organised a panel discussion with renowned participants from the world of science. Different perspectives - from religious studies, natural science, theology, and philosophy - took a stand on the arguments and sought answers.
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Berner, Bayreuth, Study of Religion
Prof. Dr. Helmut Büttner, Bayreuth, Physics
Prof. Dr. Walter Sparn, Erlangen, Theology
Dr. Christian Tewes, Jena, Philosophy
Rev. Christoph v. Knobelsdorff
On 11 January 2008, the Forum was dedicated to relations between Africa and Europe: "Qua vadit Africa?" Guided by this question, topics such as "Africa and globalisation", "The consequences of climate change in Africa", and "Poverty and AIDS in Africa: possibilities and limits of development cooperation" were discussed. In a panel discussion with renowned participants from academia, politics, and the church, the focus was on the outlook for the future: "Africa and Europe – a common future?"
On 10 and 11 November 2006, the Forum organised a two-day conference on "Global Future". The conference focused on global future issues (environment, economy, poverty, international law, and religions), which were discussed with regard to their interdependence. What are the possible solutions? And what are the "visions for our world of tomorrow"?
The presentations and results of the discussions are published in an electronic book on the website of the University of Bayreuth Library: e-book "Global Future".
From 30 June to 2 July 2006, in Thurnau Castle, at the conference centre of the University of Bayreuth, the topic was: "Genes - Book of Life?" In the context of scientific, social, and ethical aspects, the event dealt with the question of what we can expect from genetics today.
"Kilimanjaro – Africa's tallest inspires us" was the theme of Kilimanjaro Day in December 2005, focusing on the climate, history, economy, social services, and tourism associated with Africa's greatest mountain.
In April 2005, "The Labour Market in Germany – and the Consequences for Society" was the focus of a public presentation and discussion evening.
The topic of the labour market has become sadly topical in recent weeks. More than five million people are unemployed in our country. These are not just market data, but individual fates. The two lectures will first lay the foundations of a theoretically understanding of the situation of the labour market in its context and of the effects on society. In the panel discussion, this will be complemented by the respective views and practical experiences of the participants. At the same time, the event aims to raise awareness of the situation of many affected people and to look for solutions.
In November 2004, the Forum organised a conference with lectures and a panel discussion on the topic of "Genfood – artificial nature? Opportunities, risks, and ethical evaluation of green genetic engineering".
"Energy Supply of the Future. Energy – Environment – Development" was the guiding theme of a Forum conference held in November 2003 at the University of Bayreuth.
One of the key problems of the future is energy: How can the energy supply for a growing world population be secured and designed in such a way that the standard of living in industrialised countries can be maintained, and improved in developing countries, especially? Is it justifiable for future generations to continue depleting the limited reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas? What share of our energy supply can renewable energy sources actually take over? Can global climate change and, at the same time, the risks of nuclear energy use be avoided?
The conference "Energy Supply of the Future" of Bayreuther Forum Kirche und Universität, which took place on 15 November 2003 at the University of Bayreuth (FAN-B, H32), was dedicated to these and similar questions. A bridge was also built to our region: What do the insights gained mean for our own management of energy? The conference was chaired and moderated by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Brüggemann (University of Bayreuth) and Rev. Christoph von Knobelsdorff.
The topic "AIDS in Africa – Threat, Experience, Hope" was the focus of an event in November 2002.
In October 2001, the Forum announced a conference on: "Climate – Life – Economy. The 21st Century in Global Climate Change".