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"Does Evolution Have a Purpose?" Continues Science & Religion in Modern America Series


On Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m., Michael Ruse, Ph.D., will discuss "Does Evolution Have a Purpose?" Ruse is a professor and director of the History and Philosophy of Science Program in the Department of Philosophy at Florida State University. The talk is part of the “Science and Religion in Modern America” lecture series.

The Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries introduced a change of metaphors, from the world seen organically to the world seen mechanically. No longer was there place for ends or final causes in science. Instead, everything was supposed to be understood simply in terms of matter in motion. Biology, however, proved to be remarkably recalcitrant. As Immanuel Kant concluded, it seems impossible to think of individual organisms without appeal to purposes and, as life scientists sought non-biblical solutions to origins, they replaced the Judeao-Christian, human-centered history with a history based on progress culminating in humans -- from Providence to Progress.

This lecture examines evolutionary biology today and asks whether teleology or end-directed thinking has finally been left behind or continues to lurk even in the minds of the most stridently naturalistic thinkers.

Ruse is a worldwide expert on the relationship between religion and science. His work has focused especially on the convoluted relationship between the American public and Darwinian evolution; he famously testified in McLean vs. Arkansas in 1981 that creation science -- a form of Christian creationism that claims to be scientifically valid -- should not be allowed in public science classes, because it features virtually none of the characteristics of true science.

“Science and Religion in Modern America” is an initiative led by the McDevitt Chair in Religious Philosophy, George Coyne. S.J., and the McDevitt Center for Creativity and Innovation at Le Moyne. Its principal aim is to engage members of the campus community, as well as the broader Central New York community, in a candid, respectful conversation about the complex and seemingly disparate subjects of science and religion. The central pillars of this two-year endeavor are nine public lectures by eminent scholars, which will be held over the course of three academic semesters, and a concluding conference, which will take place in the spring of 2014. All of these events will be digitally recorded and made available on the McDevitt Center website.

For more information, contact the McDevitt Center for Creativity and Innovation at mcdevittcenter@lemoyne.edu.


posted on: 10/6/2013