A daring thinker who approaches the study of evolution and religion from an intriguing and challenging point of view, David Sloan Wilson is an author, researcher, and professor. On Tuesday, Sept. 29, he’ll explain his ideas at a free lecture, “Religion as a Product of Evolution,” starting at 7:30 p.m., in Schneebeck Concert Hall. Tickets for the talk are required.
Wilson argues that religion is evolution at work. The SUNY distinguished professor of biology and anthropology at Binghamton University in New York, sees religion as a powerful social force that guides its followers toward behaviors that are, seemingly, the best adaptation to their circumstances. He compares a religious group to a beehive or a human body: it operates and adapts in such a way as to optimize its members' survival. Thus, Wilson suggests, the religious principles of forgiveness, humility, and altruism are adaptive behaviors meant to help preserve the species.
Wilson's ideas are likely to prove challenging to students of both evolution and religion, even as he works to engage both disciplines. He is director of EvoS, an unusual campuswide evolutionary studies program at Binghamton University, and a columnist for The Huffington Post. He is the author of Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society (Chicago, 2002) and Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives (Bantam, 2007).
The talk is sponsored by the Swope Endowed Lectureship on Ethics, Religion, Faith, and Values. The lectureship was established at Puget Sound through a gift from Major Ianthe Swope in honor of her mother, Jane Hammer Swope. It is intended to promote broad discussions, critical thinking, and ethical inquiry about matters of religion.
Tickets can be reserved by calling x3419 or picked up at Wheelock Information Center.
Published September 25, 2009 in Open Line.