The third conference in the atom + Eve Project: Using Science in Pastoral Ministry was held on November 10, 2012. Sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and the Washington Theological Union, the third gathering was entitled, “Primate ‘Ethics’ and Human Morality.” The all-day event was held at the Union. Click to view pictures from the event and learn more about the lectures.
Below are some pictures from the conference. Click on any image to view a larger version or click on slideshow to view as a slideshow.
The sessions for Conference 3 were as follows:
Session 1: Sin, Suffering, and Salvation: What Does Evolution Have to Say about Them?
presented by Dr. Daryl Domning, PhD, Howard University
“Original sin” is really “original selfishness,” due not to Adam and Eve but to the evolutionary process whereby only the fittest of all living creatures – including apes! – survive to the next generation via natural selection. Anything alive is made up of parts and will suffer – if sentient – and die when things come apart, at the subatomic or higher level.
The harmful errors in copying DNA that make up genetic mutations also provide the stuff by which natural selection works. Without this “physical evil” evolution couldn’t produce the diversity of life that the Creator pronounced “very good.”
Session 2: Human Evolution and the Development of Intellectual and Spiritual Culture
presented by Dr. Richard Potts, PhD, Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
We will look at anthropological discoveries that offer evidence of altruistic care among individuals, lending insight into the background on which the human moral and spiritual sense has been built. For example, certain Neanderthal burials present provocative evidence of symbolic thought indicating long-term remembrance of individuals, if not a sense of an afterlife.
Session 3: The Bible, Evolution and the Catholic Understanding of Original Sin
presented by Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Wimmer, O.S.A., STD, Washington Theological Union
“Adam and Eve” is viewed as a mythic narrative tagged by the pains of broken relationships and disordered desires. Despite appearances, immortality isn’t something lost but something we never had. Our task is not to dismiss the doctrine of original sin but to make sense of it in light of the discoveries of evolution, while not denying the necessity of Christ’s divine grace in order to attain eternal salvation.
Session 4: Evolution and Ethical Concerns
presented by Rev. Kevin O’Neil, C.SS.R., S.T.D.
Chapter 21 in the Book of Revelation offers a happy vision; in the end there will be no more tears, death or mourning. Yet our world is marked by suffering, often from actions of humans. We will look at moral and physical/ontic evil. Is the traditional concept of moral evil even possible? What virtues could offset suffering? Do these same virtues exist in primates?
For more information, including copies of the lectures in printed audio and video format, visit the atom + Eve Project website.