Biology/Human Nature Seminar

From: Kerry Schutt (
Date: Tue Nov 07 2000 - 10:59:50 EST

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    Seminar Announcement: "Biology and Purpose: Altruism, Morality, and
    Human Nature in Evolutionary Theory," led by Dr. Philip Clayton,
    Professor of Philosophy, Sonoma State University and Dr. Jeffrey
    Schloss, Professor of Biology, Westmont College. July 2-27. Funded by
    the John Templeton Foundation.

    This seminar addresses one of the most urgent and controversial areas
    of contemporary religion/science engagement: can the disteleology and
    genetic reductionism that are central to neo-Darwinian theory be
    compatible with Judeo-Christian notions of providential purpose and
    divine action? More specifically, what is the relationship between
    theological conceptions of human nature as reflecting the image of God
    and the most recent and divergent attempts to explain consciousness and
    social behavior in light of selection theory? If human thought,
    feeling, morality, and even spirituality are products of natural
    selection for enhancing reproductive success, what implications does
    this have for rationality, moral responsibility, and religious belief?
    If all social behavior is mediated by genetic self-interest, how does
    this relate to a biblical anthropology that views self-giving love as
    the ultimate purpose of human existence? The goals of this seminar are
    to provide a rigorous, even-handed, and highly interdisciplinary
    assessment of the current "evolution and human nature" debates in light
    of theological and philosophical concerns and new theories in population
    genetics, sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, and emerging,
    alternative approaches. Applications from all disciplines are
    encouraged, in order to stimulate publishable, integrative scholarship
    that is both scientifically sound and theologically astute.

    Seminar faculty (confirmed or invited) include Richard Alexander,
    Professor at the University of Michigan and author of Darwinism and
    Human Affairs; psychologist Malcolm Jeeves, University of St. Andrews,
    Scotland, former President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; theologian
    Niels Gregersen, Aarhus University, Denmark, publications coordinator
    for ESSSAT; and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, State
    University of New York, co-author of the influential Unto Others: The
    Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior.

    Program Description:
    Participants in each seminar discuss common readings during a summer
    residency and work on individual research projects with the director,
    visiting faculty, and fellow participants. They are expected to present
    their projects at a conference the following spring and publish them in
    a collection or in appropriate venues. Participants are encouraged to
    bring their families for the duration.

    Faculty at liberal arts colleges and research universities are eligible
    to participate. Applicants must hold an earned Ph.D. or other terminal
    degree. Those with scholarly training in either the biological sciences
    or philosophy, theology, anthropology, psychology, social and political
    sciences, and other appropriate non-biological disciplines are
    encouraged to apply. See the program web site for details and to
    download the application form included there

    Participants will receive a stipend of $2500 and free lodging during
    the seminar. Weekday lunches are provided for seminar members and funds
    are available (up to $500) to help defray travel expenses. It is hoped
    that participants' home institutions will also contribute toward travel

    Facilities and Services:
    The seminar staff will make all logistical arrangements for
    participants and their families. Lodging is provided free for seminar
    participants in campus housing. Spouses and children can also be housed
    at no extra cost in air-conditioned two-bedroom apartments. All college
    facilities-including the college library (the most extensive research
    collection in West Michigan), networked computers, email, and sports
    facilities-are available for participants and their families.

    Deadline for all applications is February 9, 2001.

    Calvin College Seminars in Christian Scholarship
    3201 Burton Street SE
    Grand Rapids MI 49546-4388
    FAX: 616-957-6682
    Phone: 616-957-8558

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