The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will

Conflicts over the theory of evolution and its place in public education have roiled the United States for more than a century. While religious fundamentalism has been the driving force of this opposition, it is not alone in casting a wary eye on evolution. Some lament evolution as the "Death of Adam," and regard Darwinism as "a chilling doctrine" destructive to the human sense of self. In fact, even the most enthusiastic proponents of evolution, in their efforts to emphasize the biological origins of our species, contribute to a darkened view of humanity by minimizing the uniqueness of the human creature. We are referred to as an "accidental species," our emergence is regarded as an event of no particular importance, our position in the living world no more prominent than that of an iris, a giraffe, or a sea slug.

Is this view correct? Or, is there a fundamentally different way to look at the epic of our evolutionary past? Professor Miller believes there is, and will use evolution itself to argue that the human story describes not the "Death of Adam," but the ultimate triumph of our species in bringing consciousness and reason to the Cosmos itself.

About The Professor

Kenneth Miller / Brown University

Kenneth Miller is a professor of biology at Brown University. He has received 6 major teaching awards at Brown, the Presidential Citation of the American Institute for Biological Science, and the Public Service Award of the American Society for Cell Biology. In 2009 he was honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for Advancing the Public Understanding of Science, and also received the Gregor Mendel Medal from Villanova University. In 2011 he was presented with the Stephen Jay Gould Prize by the Society for the Study of Evolution.

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