As I wrote last month, in the Year of Darwin, the loudest voice associated with science threatens to be Richard Dawkins and other New Atheist pundits who will argue their personal belief that evolution undermines the validity of religion or even respect for the religious. Certainly, this promises to be a big part of the publicity campaign behind Dawkins' forthcoming book on evolution.

In sharp contrast, the major science organizations such as AAAS and the National Academies are actively reaching out to religious leaders and groups. Another example is an event upcoming at the Center for American Progress, co-sponsored by their Science Progress and Faith & Public Policy Initiatives. Details are below.

I will be talking more about this tension between the public engagement efforts of the leading science organizations and the maverick views of Dawkins and other New Atheists in an April 13 presentation at the National Academies. Free and open to the public with reception to follow.

Evolution, Transcendence, and the Nature of Faith
Reassessing Darwin's Impact on Science and Society on the Occasion of His 200th Birthday

February 11, 2009, 12:30pm - 2:00pm
About This Event

Darwin's radical deduction that random mutation and natural selection can explain all of the diversity of life on Earth shook longstanding beliefs that humans are inherently superior creatures, uniquely capable of being moral, already fully evolved, and made in the image of a perfect creator.

Since then, waves of research in such diverse fields as molecular biology and genetics, game theory, and behavioral anthropology have expanded and strengthened Darwin's seminal observations, prompting a century-and-a-half of reflection and reassessment about the place of humankind in the universe, the relationship between humans and a divine creator, and the nature of faith itself.

Join our distinguished panelists for a conversation about the ways in which evolutionary theory has revolutionized our understanding of the struggle between personal freedom and the common good, and to explore the role of religious thought as humankind gradually gains the capacity to direct its own evolution.

Featured Speakers:
David Sloan Wilson, Co-founder of the Evolution Institute and professor of evolutionary biology, Binghamton University
Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Arthur Caplan, Director, Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania

Introductory Remarks:
Sally Steenland, Senior Policy Advisor, Center for American Progress

Moderated by:
Rick Weiss, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

A light lunch will be served at 12:00 p.m.

Click here to RSVP for this event
For more information, call 202.741.6246