Darwin Day Lecture - Darwin and the “Soul” (Grand Rapids)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Women's City Club, 254 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI, View Map

Presented by Mark Reimers, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering, Michigan State University

Description

Join us for our annual Darwin Day lecture

The question of how the so-called 'higher capacities' of humanity could have evolved has vexed scientists since Charles Darwin. The co-discover of evolution, Alfred Wallace, thought that no evolutionary account by natural selection could suffice; he opted for an explanation in terms of divine intervention on an ape. In the century since the Origin of Species it has become commonplace to recognize that humans share emotions with animals, but to sharply restrict the so-called higher faculties to human beings. Scientists, including the speaker, have searched strenuously to find the neurobiological basis for these faculties, mostly in vain.

However over the past two decades a new approach to this question has made substantial progress, in the hands of scientists like Joseph Henrich of Harvard University, Kevin Laland of St. Andrews and many others. The idea is that the human brain and human culture have co-evolved: the brain has evolved to support culture, and culture has evolved to enhance the capacities of the human brain. This lecture will unpack this idea and apply it to long-standing questions of the origins of human morality, will-power, consciousness, language, narrative, memory, and creativity. I will discuss the changes in brain anatomy, biochemistry, and plasticity that have supported the adaptation to culture. Finally I will speculate on what the future may hold for the evolution of human mind.

If you have theist friends who feel that the human 'soul' is the best evidence for the existence of God, please bring them.

About the Speaker

Dr. Mark Reimers studies brain function by applying advanced statistical and computational methods to the very large data sets of brain activity measures now being generated in neuroscience. In particular he tries to understand how brain dynamics changes between different activities and states of mind. Dr. Reimers has worked at the US National Institutes of Health, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics in Richmond. He has also published papers on genetics of behavior and evolutionary changes in human brain genes.

Additional Details

Meetings are open to the Public and are held in the Auditorium on the lower level. Please use the door on the south side of the building on the lower level (by parking lot).

After the meeting, join us at Vitale's Sports Bar, 834 Leonard NE, Grand Rapids, MI to socialize. View Map

The Auditorium is wheelchair accessible via a lift immediately inside and to the left of the lower level door.

Center for Inquiry Michigan values full participation for all attendees at all of our events, including participation from individuals with disabilities. Requests for reasonable accommodation may be made by contacting Jennifer Beahan at or 616-706-2029 at least three days prior to the event.

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Cost: FREE / Suggested Donation $5. Ways to Support CFI & Donate Online

Contact: Jennifer Beahan, , 616-698-2342