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Biologist, Author to Lecture at Juniata on Evolution

(Posted March 17, 2008)

David Sloan Wilson, author of "Evolution for Everyone."

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- David Sloan Wilson, the author of "Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives," will give a lecture at Juniata College on "Evolution and Religion: Two Sideshows and the Main Event," at 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 24 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The lecture is sponsored by the Ellis endowment in memory of Calvert N. Ellis, a 1923 graduate and the sixth president of Juniata College, which annually brings renowned lecturers in philosophy and education to campus.

Wilson, a professor of biology and anthropology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y., will address how the nation's current controversy on the clashing points of view on evolution and religion attempts to divert attention by concentrating on two sideshow arguments -- intelligent design on the Creationist side, and "New Atheism" on the evolutionary side. Wilson will offer another way to look at the issue by explaining Evolutionary Religious Studies as an emerging field of scientific inquiry.

Wilson's most popular book, "Evolution for Everyone" lays out an argument that shows how the principles of evolution can be applied in everyday affairs. Publisher's Weekly calls the book, "by far the most accessible account of evolution for a general audience, as well as the farthest ranging."

Wilson came to prominence as a proponent of multilevel selection, a theory that says genes can act on individuals and groups of individuals as part of natural selection and that the fundamental elements of evolution can exist at all levels of the biological world -- from genes to ecosystems. He and his co-author, Elliot Sober, presented the argument for group selection in their book "Unto Others."

In recent years, he has extended his theory of multilevel selection beyond science, arguing that not only can biology and anthropology be examined through evolution, but also topics such as philosophy, art, economics, religion, history and literature.

Wilson links the theory of group selection to how religion evolved through history in his 2002 book "Darwin's Cathedral." Wilson argues that religion can be seen as a biological and cultural adaptation to build community and cooperation between individuals and groups.

He currently blogs about evolution and religion on the Web site Huffington Post at www.huffingtonpost.com. He also edited the 2005 book "The Literary Animal: Evolution and the Nature of Narrative." He also has published articles in a variety of professional journals

Wilson has been a professor of biology at Binghamton since 1988. Previously he was an assistant and associate professor of zoology at Michigan State University from 1980 to 1988. He also worked as an assistant professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Davis from 1977 to 1980.

He teaches a variety of courses on evolution, including an introductory course called "Evolution for Everyone," based on his recent book. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Rochester in 1971 and went on to earn a doctoral degree from Michigan State in 1975.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.