2000 Norman J Field Lecture in Science


Dr. Robert T. Pennock

Associate Professor, Lyman Briggs School, Michigan State University

Thursday, 28 September 2000

7:30 pm

Performing Arts Center Auditorium

Monmouth Regional High School (click here for directions)

1 Norman J Field Way

Tinton Falls, NJ

Refreshments and informal discussion will follow the lecture

Free and Open to the Public

Questions like "How and why did we get here?" and "What is right and wrong?" have intrigued humans since the beginning of time. These questions form the basis for much of the confusion in the ongoing struggle between proponents of evolution and those of creationism. Although most of the world's scientific community firmly and emphatically embraces the basic concepts of evolution, to a large portion of the general public things are far less clear. The creationism-evolution controversy is not just about the status of Darwinian evolution -- it is a clash of religious and philosophical worldviews, for a common underlying fear among creationists is that evolution undermines both the basis of morality as they understand it and the possibility of purpose in life.

For scientists, the concern is reversed -- that the forces of creationism are attacking the very cornerstone of the scientific process: the scientific method of proving or disproving hypotheses based on objective evidence, not based on faith or magic.

In this lecture, Dr. Pennock will update the debate. Creationism is no longer the simple notion it once was taken to be. Its new advocates have become more sophisticated, speaking of "intelligent design" and aiming to replace the scientific method with a new "theistic science". Dr. Pennock will compare the views of the new creationists with those of the old, revealing the insubstantiality of both sets of arguments.

Robert T. Pennock received his Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Pittsburgh, and is currently Associate Professor at Michigan State University. His research focuses on epistemic and ethical values in science. He is the author of Tower of Babel: The evidence against the New Creationism, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award He is the recipient of the Templeton Prize for the Exemplary Paper in Theology and the Natural Sciences, and the National Endowment for the Humanities/National Science Foundation fellowship on Scientific, Ethical, and Social Challengers of Contemporary Genetic Technology. He has also received support from the Mellon Foundation and Obirin University (Japan). In 1997, he co-directed an NSF Chautauqua Workshop on the "Ethical Implications of the Human Genome Project." Dr. Pennock has served as President of the University of Texas at Austin chapter of Sigma Xi, and is a member of the American Philosophical Association, the Philosophy of Science Association, Sigma Xi, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Norman J Field Lectures in Science were established in 1991 in memory of Dr. Norman J Field, and are cosponsored by the Monmouth County Section of the American Chemical Society, the Monmouth Junior Science Symposium, the Friends of the Monmouth County Library Association, the Monmouth County School Boards Association, and by the Rutgers University Chapter of Sigma Xi, an international scientific research society. Dr. Field was widely recognized for his contributions in the area of public education. He maintained a lifelong personal and professional interest in scientific issues. It is hoped that this lecture series will serve to promote similar interest in science and science education among both younger and older members of the community.

For additional information please contact:

Ken Field


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