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Frans de Waal and Jeff Schloss Lecture

Isthmus Society Lectures
at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Frans de Waal
Frans de Waal

Jeff Schloss
Jeff Schloss

Do We Need God to Be Moral?
a dialogue on morality, religion and evolution

Thursday, April 10, 2014
4:30 pm to 6:00 pm

Sonata Room
Gordon Dining & Event Center
770 W. Dayton St. [map]
University of Wisconsin–Madison

free and open to the public

Frans de Waal
C.H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior at Emory University


Jeff Schloss
T.B. Walker Chair of Natural and Behavioral Sciences at Westmont College and BioLogos Senior Scholar

Presented by the Isthmus Society
cosponsored by

The John Templeton Foundation

The UW Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions

UW–Madison Department of Zoology

Lecture abstract
From the time of Darwin until the present, a fascinating controversy has raged over evolutionary theory’s implications for our understanding of the origin and nature of human morality. Drawing on contemporary evolutionary thought and recent research into the prosocial tendencies of primates, de Waal and Schloss will discuss a number of questions related to this controversy. Are moral capacities and judgments “unique” to human beings alone or do other animals share them? Are human moral capacities and judgments merely the products of biological evolution or are they also shaped by culture and religion? Do evolutionary accounts of morality subvert all moral beliefs or can such accounts help inform moral principles? Join us and our two keynote speakers as we enter into an open and constructive dialogue on these and other vital questions found at one of the most important intersections of modern scientific knowledge and religious belief.

Suggested reading:

Frans de Waal, “Morals Without God?,” New York Times: The Stone, Opinionator, 17 October 2010.

Jeffrey Schloss, “Darwinian Explanations of Morality: Accounting for the Normal but not the Normative” [PDF] in Hilary Putnam, Susan Neiman and Jeffrey Schloss, eds. Understanding Moral Sentiments: Darwinian Perspectives? (Transaction Publishers, 2014), pp. 81–121. [book link on]