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Theology as Evolutionary Hermeneutics

Time: 
3:00pm
Date: 
November 3, 2009
Location: 
University of Notre Dame
South Bend, Indiana



The evolutionary paradigm permeates most dimensions of postmodern thought, and ancient faith traditions have everything to gain from a bold and incisive engagement with it. How can we rethink theology to reflect not only an ancient, dynamic and evolving universe, but also an Earth that is only temporarily hospitable to complex and intelligent life? (Ward and Brownlee, The Life and Death of Planet Earth: How New Science of Astrobiology Charts the Ultimate Fate of our World. New York: Henry Holt, 2002.) The theological issues at stake in such a fully evolutionary understanding of the world are many and varied.

As a living dialogue between scripture, tradition, and the cultures in which it is embedded, theology is always a hermeneutical enterprise. Christian doctrine hammered out during the formative years of the Apostolic and Patristic eras reflects the assumptions of a young, static, and geocentric cosmos. As this worldview is no longer serviceable in light of modern science, the paper will propose an “evolutionary hermeneutic” as the best framework within which to engage in theological discourse.

The essay sketches one dimension of a theology of creation ― theological anthropology ― that is intricately bound up with other aspects of doctrine: the “Fall,” sin, and moral consciousness; suffering and theodicy; and eschatology and the far future of the cosmos. Considering the evolutionary trajectory of /Homo sapiens/, how can we rethink the theology of the “soul” and of human personhood in a way that is both faithful to scriptural revelation and doctrine, and responsive to what science progressively reveals about the universe and our place in it?

A presentation in the conference
Darwin in the Twenty-First Century:
Nature, Humanity and God

For more information: 
Contact: Peter Hess

Why Evolution is Fact and Intelligent Design is Fiction

Featuring: 
Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D.

Time: 
3:00am
Date: 
November 2, 2009
Location: 
Science Building Lecture Hall (SC118)
Southern Oregon University Campus
Ashland, Oregon


Proponents of intelligent design (ID) claim it is possible to identify phenomena in the biological world that are the products of an intelligent designer. ID proponents profess agnosticism on the identity of the intelligent agent, which could be material (such as highly intelligent terrestrials) or transcendental (God). Intelligent design is supposedly detectable through the application of two criteria: M. Behe's "irreducible complexity" and/or W. Dembski's "complex specified information". ID's claims amount to (1) "Darwinism" (vaguely defined) is incapable of providing an adequate mechanism for evolution, and (2) -- by implication, rarely expressed explicitly -- that evolution did not occur.

It is doubtful that any empirical research can be done under ID, as the essence of ID is the assumption that there are phenomena that categorically cannot be explained through natural causes. Evolution, on the other hand, is a well-established science with evidence supporting it coming from a large number of independent sources. Efforts to include ID in the curricula of high schools while denigrating evolution are wrong-headed in both respects.

Presented by
The Jefferson Center
as part of the
THOMAS JEFFERSON MEMORIAL LECTURE SERIES

For more information: 

Why Evolution is Fact and Intelligent Design is Fiction

Time: 
7:00pm
Date: 
November 2, 2009
Location: 
Science Building Lecture Hall (SC118)
Southern Oregon University Campus
Ashland, Oregon


Proponents of intelligent design (ID) claim it is possible to identify phenomena in the biological world that are the products of an intelligent designer. ID proponents profess agnosticism on the identity of the intelligent agent, which could be material (such as highly intelligent terrestrials) or transcendental (God). Intelligent design is supposedly detectable through the application of two criteria: M. Behe's "irreducible complexity" and/or W. Dembski's "complex specified information". ID's claims amount to (1) "Darwinism" (vaguely defined) is incapable of providing an adequate mechanism for evolution, and (2) -- by implication, rarely expressed explicitly -- that evolution did not occur.

It is doubtful that any empirical research can be done under ID, as the essence of ID is the assumption that there are phenomena that categorically cannot be explained through natural causes. Evolution, on the other hand, is a well-established science with evidence supporting it coming from a large number of independent sources. Efforts to include ID in the curricula of high schools while denigrating evolution are wrong-headed in both respects.

Presented by
The Jefferson Center
as part of the
THOMAS JEFFERSON MEMORIAL LECTURE SERIES

For more information: 

What Would Darwin Say to Today’s Creationists?

Featuring: 
Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D.

Time: 
10:14pm
Date: 
October 30, 2009
Location: 
Third Floor Theater
Ida Noyes Hall
University of Chicago
1212 East 59th Street
Chicago, Illinois

Many elements of the modern American creationist movement would be familiar to Darwin, especially the argument from design, which of course was very well known (and well-regarded) by educated people of his time. Young-Earth creationism, on the other hand, would be puzzling to him; Bishop Ussher's 4004 BC age of the Earth was not considered mainstream Christian theology in the late 19th century, though certainly the view had its adherents among clergy. Darwin might have heard of the “scriptural geologists” who promoted a young-Earth view during the 19th century, but like other scientists of his time, he would have ignored them. The current creationist strategy of disclaiming evolution as weak science would have seemed more familiar to him, given the criticisms of evolution he encountered during his own time.

A presentation in the
University of Chicago Darwin Celebration

For more information: 

What Would Darwin Say to Today’s Creationists?

Time: 
2:14pm
Date: 
October 30, 2009
Location: 
Third Floor Theater
Ida Noyes Hall
University of Chicago
1212 East 59th Street
Chicago, Illinois

Many elements of the modern American creationist movement would be familiar to Darwin, especially the argument from design, which of course was very well known (and well-regarded) by educated people of his time. Young-Earth creationism, on the other hand, would be puzzling to him; Bishop Ussher's 4004 BC age of the Earth was not considered mainstream Christian theology in the late 19th century, though certainly the view had its adherents among clergy. Darwin might have heard of the “scriptural geologists” who promoted a young-Earth view during the 19th century, but like other scientists of his time, he would have ignored them. The current creationist strategy of disclaiming evolution as weak science would have seemed more familiar to him, given the criticisms of evolution he encountered during his own time.

A presentation in the
University of Chicago Darwin Celebration

For more information: 

Why Evolution is Difficult: An American Perspective

Featuring: 
Eugenie C. Scott, PhD


Time: 
5:15pm
Date: 
October 27, 2009
Location: 
National Science Learning Centre
York University
York, UK


The American antievolution movement is much more vigorous than that in Great Britain or Europe, but antievolutionism is nonetheless expanding outside of the U.S. The specific enthusiasms of “creation science” and “intelligent design” are American exports, and products of American history and culture. Nonetheless, they have been proved to be remarkably robust colonizers, and are transplanted by conservative Christian missionaries, who are a universal phenomenon. Although primarily a Christian movement, antievolutionism has been seized upon by Islamists as well, and even by a marginal Hindu movement. The relationship between creation science and intelligent design will be explained, and examples of how these movements have challenged the teaching of evolution in the U.S. will be described.


A presentation at the British Council-sponsored

International Seminar on Darwin, Evolution, and Education

For more information: 
Contact: Lois Morgan

Why Evolution is Difficult: An American Perspective

Time: 
9:15am
Date: 
October 27, 2009
Location: 
National Science Learning Centre
York University
York, UK


The American antievolution movement is much more vigorous than that in Great Britain or Europe, but antievolutionism is nonetheless expanding outside of the U.S. The specific enthusiasms of “creation science” and “intelligent design” are American exports, and products of American history and culture. Nonetheless, they have been proved to be remarkably robust colonizers, and are transplanted by conservative Christian missionaries, who are a universal phenomenon. Although primarily a Christian movement, antievolutionism has been seized upon by Islamists as well, and even by a marginal Hindu movement. The relationship between creation science and intelligent design will be explained, and examples of how these movements have challenged the teaching of evolution in the U.S. will be described.


A presentation at the British Council-sponsored

International Seminar on Darwin, Evolution, and Education

For more information: 
Contact: Lois Morgan

The Evolution of Creationism

Featuring: 
Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D.



Time: 
12:00am
Date: 
October 20, 2009
Location: 
Cambridge University
United Kingdom




In the beginning ... there was the effort to ban the teaching of evolution, and John T. Scopes is the Tennessee teacher whose trial made the creationism/evolution controversy an American icon. But American antievolutionism has continued through until the present day, and it is accurate to describe its evolution as morphological change in response to restrictions of its legal environment. Antievolutionism changed from stressing the Bible as its source of authority to using the imprimatur of science -- and we have seen the evolution of creation science and intelligent design. Whither antievolutionism in the future? We predict that creation science and intelligent design will change yet further – and in some ways, going back to their roots.

For more information: 
Contact: email Rob Asher

The Evolution of Creationism

Time: 
4:00pm
Date: 
October 20, 2009
Location: 
Cambridge University
United Kingdom




In the beginning ... there was the effort to ban the teaching of evolution, and John T. Scopes is the Tennessee teacher whose trial made the creationism/evolution controversy an American icon. But American antievolutionism has continued through until the present day, and it is accurate to describe its evolution as morphological change in response to restrictions of its legal environment. Antievolutionism changed from stressing the Bible as its source of authority to using the imprimatur of science -- and we have seen the evolution of creation science and intelligent design. Whither antievolutionism in the future? We predict that creation science and intelligent design will change yet further – and in some ways, going back to their roots.

For more information: 
Contact: email Rob Asher

In the Beginning: Explanations from Science and Religion

Featuring: 
Eugenie C. Scott, Ph.D.

Time: 
3:00am
Date: 
October 14, 2009
Location: 
WOSU@COSI Studios
Center Of Science & Industry (COSI)
333 E. Broad Street
Columbus, Ohio


A panel with Eugenie C. Scott, Francisco Ayala, and Denis Lamoureux.

Part of a celebration marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species at Ohio State University. The panel, sponsored by OSU and the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), is part of a continuing series, “Intersection of Faith and Evolution: Defining Science and Religion”. The panel will be moderated by Neal Conan, host of NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

Free to the public, but to reserve a seat, call 614.228.2674

For more information: 
Visit the COSI Calendar

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