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Simon Conway Morris to do Gifford Lectures


Simon Conway Morris is scheduled to do the 2006-07 Gifford Lectures on the topic “What organic evolution tells us about our place in the universe, not least in terms of religious perspectives and natural theology “:


PZ on Conway Morris: "So, anyway, Conway Morris irritates me greatly. He's a lousy writer. He holds views I strongly disagree with. He lets his religion guide his opinions in unscientific directions. He can be nasty and petty. Unfortunately, he's also a paleontologist with direct access to the primary material, is extremely well-read and able to provide a wide perspective on the subjects he describes...so darn it, I'm going to have to read his latest book. And it's probably going to irritate me even more."(Pharyngula) PZ wants to convince everybody that Morris is a lousy writer because he suggests that there is a possible purpose to evolution. He blames Morris for letting his religious sentiments get in front of his science. However when you read Morris' book LS:IHIALU, never does he mention religion as to why evolution is purposeful. His main thesis is that the ubiquity of life has an uncanny way of repeating similar features over and over. This clearly can be inferred as something teleological. I think the argument can be turned around, PZ let's his anti-religious sentiments get in front of his science, including against those in the evolutionary camp. Benjii
I googled his name and the first page was PZ Myers...Myers whines like a child about how the guy irritates him and how he shouldn't mention his religious ideas in his books ever, and how he's a poor writer, and how PZ totally disagrees with him, and how Conway Morris' claims are ridiculous. The normal 'I can't stand anyone who even remotely supports religion, nor can I stand anyone who doesn't totally agree with my view of NDE' Myers attitude. For that reason alone, this guy can't be so bad. If Myers can't stand him, then he's got to have something going for him! Josh Bozeman
he is actually giving a lecture in UCC in Ireland as well... The page is http://www.ucc.ie/en/NewsandEvents/PressReleases/Headline,10289,en.html The text is as follows... Title: Does evolution have a Destination, even a Destiny? Where are we going? Not a small question, but one that will be addressed by Professor Simon Conway Morris of the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, in the concluding lecture of this year's UCC Science Lecture Series, on December 14th next. As part of Cork City's celebration of European Capital of Culture 2005, visiting lecturers were asked this year to prepare material as if were their last opportunity to deliver a lecture - hence the sub-title, The Last Lecture Series - and throughout the past number of months, enthusiastic audiences have enjoyed being addressed on topics as diverse as the future of computers, food safety, mental health and suicide. In the concluding lecture, titled: Does Evolution have a Destination, Even a Destiny? Professor Conway Morris will look at the evidence of evolution on Earth, culminating in several types of intelligence, with mankind at the top of the chain. He will also discuss several other types of relatively advanced intelligence found in animals such as dolphins, and perhaps a few species that may give rise to some surprise. But what does it all mean? Is our evolutionary path laid down to the point of predictability, and if not, where next for mankind? As space exploration gathers pace and becomes ever more daring in its range and vision, one obvious question, Professor Conway Morris says, concerns our status in the Universe. Are we alone, merely a cosmic chance that took hold on the Blue Planet? Is anyone out there? And why have we not yet found them? It's not for the want of trying, he adds, and even as our knowledge of the Universe increases exponentially, ET has not called home and there has been no contact. We know, however, Professor Conway Morris says, that several star systems not too far away (give or take a few light years), have planets similar to ours and that the potential for an upwelling of intelligence may exist there as well. With the advent of nanotechnology and quantum computing, it is difficult to believe, given the will to do so, that man will not overcome challenges involved in reaching out even further into space, he adds. Are we likely to meet extra terrestrial cousins? Professor Conway Morris will give his views during the lecture. Or is it simply, as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin has suggested, that mankind will evolve to what he has called the "Omega Point", a level of sublime unity in consciousness that will signal the end of the world? "He may have been on to something," Professor Conway Morris says. Science has yet to show why the Universe is as it is, and it may well be the case, Professor Conway Morris says, that the future will turn out to be much more dynamic than we think. Indeed, reality itself might become the subject of debate. Steadfast in his determination not to give anything away, he promised: "I will have a small surprise at the end of the lecture." As always, admission to the lecture is free and members of the public are invited to attend. The venue is Boole Lecture Theatre 4 on Wednesday December 14th at 8pm. The series is organised by Professor William Reville of the Science Faculty, UCC. Marwan_Boustany

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