Evolution and Ethics: Human Morality in Biological and Religious Perspective

Evolution and Ethics: Human Morality in Biological and Religious Perspective

Evolution and Ethics: Human Morality in Biological and Religious Perspective

Evolution and Ethics: Human Morality in Biological and Religious Perspective


Christians frequently resist evolutionary theory, believing it to be incompatible with the core values of their tradition. But what exactly are the tensions between evolution and religious faith in the area of human morality? "Evolution and Ethics examines the burning questions of human morality from the standpoint of Christian thought and contemporary biology, asking where the two perspectives diverge and where they may complement one another.

Representing a significant dialogue between world-class scientists, philosophers, and theologians, this volume explores the central features of biological and religious accounts of human morality, introducing the leading theories and locating the key points of contention. Central to these discussions are the questions of whether human actions are ever genuinely selfless, whether there is something in the moral life that transcends biological function, and whether one can sensibly speak of an overall purpose to the course of evolution.

Certain to engagescholars, students, and general readers alike, "Evolution and Ethics offers a balanced, levelheaded, constructive approach to an often divisive debate.

Contributors: Larry Arnhart

Christopher Boehm

Craig A. Boyd

Robert Boyd

Michael J. Chapman

Philip Clayton

Loren Haarsma

John Hare

S. Mark Heim

David C. Lahti

Thomas Jay Oord

Gregory R. Peterson

Joseph Poulshock

Peter J. Richerson

Philip A. Rolnick

Holmes Rolston III

Michael Ruse

Jeffrey Schloss

Rene van Woudenberg


This book is far more than a random collection of papers that happened to have been presented at a conference somewhere. the majority of the authors spent four weeks in residence together at Calvin College during a recent summer, engaged in intensive study and debate concerning the core questions of this book. We are grateful to the John Templeton Foundation, without whose generous funding this collaborative project would not have been possible, and to the Seminars in Christian Scholarship program of Calvin College, which hosted this research consultation, especially to Susan Felch, its Director, and to Anna Mae Bush, Kara Vandrie, and their staff.

With the financial assistance of the Templeton Foundation, we were able to bring in leading figures in the field for extended discussion and debate. the in-depth interactions that took place over the summer with the scientists Richard Alexander, David Sloan Wilson, and Malcolm Jeeves, and with the theologians Niels Gregersen and Kevin Vanhoozer, were a testing ground for the proposals made in this volume. Each paper was then presented and critiqued at a major conference at Calvin College in November, 2002. Joining us as keynote speakers at the conference were Larry Arnhart, Christopher Boehm, Thomas Lewis, Peter Richerson, and Holmes Rolston iii. All but one of their papers have been added to this summary of the project’s conclusions. in addition, we have been able to include papers by Michael Ruse, Joseph Poulshock, and David Lahti, which were written expressly for this volume, since their research results bear directly on the “evolution and ethics” debate.

Not all of the papers written by members of the core research group were focused directly on the topic of this book, and so not all of their papers could be included in this volume. Each core participant, however, has contributed substantially to these published results through his or her research, ideas, criticisms, and comments. We gratefully acknowledge our intellectual and personal debt to these other colleagues: Stacey Ake, Dan Brannan, Eduardo de la Cruz, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Weikert, and Doug Vakoch.

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