Voices of Reason: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Belief

Wednesday, April 22nd 2009 at 6:30 pm
Wednesday, April 22nd 2009 at 8:00 pm
All Souls Unitarian Church, 1157 Lexington Ave. (and 80th St.)

The Center for Inquiry-New York City and the All Souls Unitarian Church are co-sponsoring a panel discussion on the evolutionary origins of religion. Why does religious belief persist? Is there a so-called ”God gene?” What is the relationship between biological and cultural evolution in the development of human religion? How does unselfish behavior fit into the evolutionary mix? Is there really such a thing as “free will,” a basic tenet of many religions? These are a few of the questions to be explored by a panel that includes Randy Thornhill , Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of New Mexico, and David Sloan Wilson , Distinguished Professor of Biology at SUNY Binghamton.

Thornhill, an evolutionary biologist with a special interest in evolutionary psychology, is the author (with T. Craig Palmer) of the controversial and widely reviewed A Natural History of Rape (MIT Press). He has appeared on a wide variety of television shows attempting to expand the public’s knowledge of science, including The Today Show, National Geographic specials, and the BBC. Wilson is the author of Darwin’s Cathedral and Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change The Way We Think About Our Lives (Delacorte Press). His next book, to be published by Little Brown, is titled Evolving The City: An Evolutionist Contemplates Changing the World—One City At a Time .

The panel will be moderated by Austin Dacey , a philosopher and author of The Secular Conscience , who writes frequently on issues at the intersection of ethics, religion, and  biology. Dacey is CFI’s representative to the United Nations.

Admission is free and open to the public.

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-- Take the 4 or 5 trains to 86th street and walk south down Lexington Ave., or the 6 train to 77th street and walk north.