In the rock classic Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne enthusiastically asks, “Well, how did I get here?” Whether you believe in a roughly 6,000 year young earth created in six days or 3.5 billion of years of evolving life, the controversy over creation vs. evolution is an important part of our culture, and it has evoked strong emotions on the question of how we got here. Bits and pieces of answers to this question may be gleaned from a variety of sources, including science, philosophy, and religion. While none of these areas can give complete answers to the question of how we got here, it is exciting to explore how each area addresses the question differently.
In a November 14 forum, Dr. Douglas Jensen, Assistant Professor of Biology and Chair of the Biology Department at Converse College, will address what types of answers science and religion give to this question and why scientists accept some answers while rejecting others. Entitled “Science, Religion, and Elegance: A Scientist’s View of the Evolution Controversy,” the forum will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Hartness Auditorium on the Converse campus. There is no admission charge and the public is invited to attend. Sponsored by Converse, the forum is the second of the Ideas and Culture Forum series this year.
During his remarks, Dr. Jensen will focus on the differences between science and religion as ways of understanding the world we live inhabit. “I hope to clarify just what qualifies as science, and how science works as a process,” said Dr. Jensen. A question and answer period will follow his remarks.
The majority of Dr. Jensen’s research centers on plant evolution, specifically the most primitive plants to live inhabit land environments (about 400 million years old). His research has included fieldwork to collect fossils from New Brunswick, Quebec, and Virginia, and it has been supported by grants from several sources, including the National Science Foundation and the Converse College Faculty Development Summer Research Funds. His research has involved discovery of new fossil species and exploring relationships of primitive land plants using data from species collected throughout the world, and he has presented his findings at international, national, and regional scientific meetings. As a professor, he has a large interest in evolutionary theory, and he has taught evolutionary biology for several years in a variety of different courses to both undergraduates and graduates.