Imagine dozing off in an 8 a.m. psychology lecture and suddenly awaking in the middle of a jungle filled with dinosaurs.
You manage to escape the velociraptor chasing you by stepping into the Walmart that just appeared in front of you and realize it's your turn to buy groceries.
Only in a dream can you go from exciting and dangerous to boring and mundane in one confusing instant.
"What are Dreams?" is a Science Café discussion that was held on Tuesday at the Ijams Nature Center, presented by the Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville and led by Dr. Neil Greenberg, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UT.
The program took the form of a brief introduction by Pastor David Spakes of the Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville, followed by an episode of NOVA, a science-based TV series on PBS, entitled "What are Dreams?" and concluded with an open question and answer based discussion with Dr. Greenberg about the nature of dreams, and included such topics as lucid dreaming, the role of dreams in evolution, dream perception and even the dreams of animals.
Sophia Shefner, sophomore in journalism and electronic media, enjoyed the discussion due to a personal interest in the subject.
"The discussion was very interesting," she said. "I know that I am personally very interested in dreams, so it was nice to hear a professional opinion on all of these things."
Dr. Greenberg also spoke about a class he is teaching in the spring called the "Biology of Art," which is a 400-level ecology course.
"I usually just get graduate students in art and in biology," Greenberg said.
The one prerequisite for the course?
"Being fearless," he added with a mischievous smirk.
Erica Johnson, sophomore in biology, was particularly interested in the Biology of Art course.
"I'm really intrigued by this class because I was actually minoring in studio art, and biology and art don't normally go together," she said. "I never really thought about dreaming being like a relationship between the two."
Science Café is a program hosted monthly by the Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville at Ijams Nature Center, with the goal of engaging in intellectual discussion over a range of scientific topics, such as the Mars exploration missions and the human brain.
Spakes, who is also one of the founders of the Spirit and Truth Fellowship, spoke about his church's goals with the Science Café.
"In Science Café, we don't talk about (religion). This is strictly a science discussion. For people who attend the church, it's a recreational activity, but it's also a community service, and that's what it's intended to be," he said. "We're always on the lookout for speakers who are subject-matter experts, usually with 'PhD' after their name."
The Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville was founded as a "Christian counterculture" whose members do not judge science as innately contrary to scripture, and is a place where sincere skeptics are welcomed in an atmosphere of mutual respect to consider the possibilities of Christianity.
To find out more about the Spirit and Truth Fellowship of Knoxville, or to view upcoming or past Science Café events, visit www.spirit-and-truth.net.