Saturday, September 21, 2019 9:00 am - 12:55 pm
Kenneth Miller / Brown University
Modern science has its roots in western religious thought, was nurtured in universities established for religious reasons, and owes some of its greatest discoveries to scientists who themselves were people of faith. Nonetheless, on one issue after another, from evolution to the “big bang” to the age of the Earth itself, religion is often on a collision course with scientific thought. On one side, religious believers have constructed pseudosciences to justify narrow interpretations of scripture or to support specific religious claims. On the other, non-believers have used scientific authority to label faith a “delusion” to be set aside.
Can science and religion truly coexist or are they forever locked in conflict? This one-time-only presentation will approach this question by focusing specifically on a few of today’s most contentious issues. Can science today be understood in a religious context, or have we finally reached the end of faith? Public opinion continues to demonstrate a surprising unwillingness to embrace the scientific consensus on issues affecting the well-being and prosperity of the world. While it might seem logical to attribute anti-science attitudes to dogma or factual unawareness, the roots of this problem go far deeper.
This class will approach this question by focusing specifically on the contentious issue of biological evolution. Is it, as critics of evolution state, time to abandon Darwin? Is the evidence for evolution as solid as scientists claim? Does the human genome show that we are unique creations, or the products of evolution? Finally, can science today be understood in a religious context, or have we finally reached the end of faith?
Watch Science vs. Faith: Addressing History’s Oldest Debate
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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.
Catherine Sanderson / Amherst College
We are bombarded daily by news reports of bad behavior, from sexual harassment in the workplace to racist attacks on public transportation to bullying in schools. Although it's easy to blame these acts on evil people, it's far more complicated to understand why so many people fail to speak up in the presence of such behavior and how significant a role this silence plays in perpetuating the behavior itself. Using empirical research from psychology, biology, neuroscience, and economics, this talk examines the factors that lead most of us to stay silent in the face of bad behavior, and how the tendency to stay silent allows such acts to continue.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." Finally, this talk will describe how to overcome the very natural human tendency to remain bystanders in the face of bad behavior and practical strategies we can all use to step up and show moral courage.
Catherine Sanderson is the James E. Ostendarp Professor of Psychology at Amherst College, and is often cited as the school’s most popular professor. Her research has received grant funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health. She has published over 25 journal articles in addition to three college textbooks. In 2012, she was named one of the country’s top 300 professors by the Princeton Review.
Louis Masur / Rutgers University
Any thinking American is drawn to Abraham Lincoln. His story invites us to marvel at how this poor, self-educated, frontier lawyer transformed himself into a political leader who defended democracy, preserved the nation, and abolished slavery. As late as 1859, when asked to provide an autobiographical sketch, he mused there was not much to say because "there is not much of me." If not much then, there would be plenty ahead.
To understand Lincoln, we must read him. This class provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in Lincoln's writings and to explore his ideas in seminar fashion, as we might in an advanced undergraduate course. Professor Lou Masur will provide biographical information and analysis.
Louis Masur is a Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. He received outstanding teaching awards from Rutgers, Trinity College, and the City College of New York, and won the Clive Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard University. He is the author of many books including “Lincoln’s Last Speech,” which was inspired by a talk he presented at One Day University. His essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and Slate. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and serves on the Historians’ Council of the Gettysburg Foundation.