TEDx 2013

Evolution and Religion: The Battle and Beyond

As an extensively published clinical researcher and emergency physician, David studies creative ways to improve the care of patients in the ER. As an educator and mentor, he helps other curious minds see things from fresh perspectives. For decades, David has taught an academic approach to the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, attending to their rich literary and historical contexts. He recently finished a 5-year term on the Advisory Council with one of the country's largest multidenominational seminaries. Integrating his scientific perspective with a fascination with religion, David speaks to diverse audiences—from atheist groups to churches, from sociology classrooms to seminaries—to encourage a constructive engagement between these oft-conflicted disciplines.

The Forum: 2013 TEDx San Jose State University   The Video: YouTube

The discussion follows this simplified taxonomy, illustrated to the left.
The upper half are embracers of supernaturalism, whereas the lower half prefer natural explanations of history and experience. The combatants on the left pit science against faith. Here,  evolution is perceived as a threat to religion and can be used a weapon against faith. The combiners on the right, on the other hand, appreciate the compatibility of evolution and religion. For supernaturalists, evolution can be seen as God's tool of creation. For naturalists, a study of religion's evolutionary roots provides an illuminating lens on human cognition and behavior.

This outline is admittedly rough and incomplete. Nevertheless it hélps us interpret the world around us—at a political level, absolutely, but also inter-personally. Our classmates and co-workers, friends and family, may have taken positions on this map that are different than our own. Understanding why can help us build bridges, even across battle lines. There is much we can learn from the dynamic interface of evolution and religion. You are welcome to come explore.

Bibliography (updated April 28, 2014): attached below  (right click or select download arrow)

Question or comments to drvinson at ucdavis dot edu

David R Vinson,
Apr 28, 2014, 1:16 PM