What happens when a professor of religion looks into the scientific literature of evolution biology? That was for Robert Shedinger, Luther College professor of religion, to find out as he began preparing to teach an existing course at the college called science and religion in 2014.
"I found the evolution/religion debate much more complex and interesting than I realized," said Shedinger. "This debate is often framed as evolutionary theory being the most successful scientific theory of all time, meaning that those who question it are either ignorant of science, or are anti-science religious fundamentalists, or both. I soon learned this framing did not represent reality. There are scientifically literate people making substantive criticisms of aspects of modern evolutionary theory, and not all of them hold to conservative Christian views."
This realization and research ultimately led Shedinger to write his latest book, "The Mystery of Evolutionary Mechanisms: Darwinian Biology's Grand Narrative of Triumph and the Subversion of Religion." Shedinger will share his journey from being an advocate of Darwinian evolution to becoming a Darwinian skeptic in a lecture at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3 in Olin Building Room 102. Following the lecture, Shedinger will be available for discussion and book signing.
Shedinger began teaching at Luther in 2000 after earning his Ph.D. in religious studies from Temple University. He teaches courses primarily in the areas of biblical studies, Islamic studies and science and religion. Shedinger is also the author of "Jesus and Jihad: Reclaiming the Prophetic Heart of Christianity and Islam," "Was Jesus a Muslim? Questioning Categories in the Study of Religion" and "Radically Open: Transcending Religious Identity in an Age of Anxiety."
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