Philosophy department’s Green Honors Chair speaks about Darwin and Christianity


    More than 140 people filled the seats of room 141 in Moudy Building North on Wednesday night for the philosophy department's Cecil H. and Ida Green Honors Chair Professor Elliott Sober's lecture on "Darwin and Intelligent Design." 

    Department chair and associate professor of philosophy Blake Hestir introduced Sober to the crowd of students, faculty, staff and community members. Sober, who is also the Hans Reichenbach Professor and William F. Vilas Research professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has written ten books in his career and over 200 articles, essays and criticisms.

    Sober discussed reconciling ideas of Christianity with Darwin's theory of evolution and also took time to explain Darwin's personal religious life. 

    Sober spent three days on campus this week as the Green Honors Chair. In addition to his open lecture Wednesday night, Sober guest lectured in associate professor William Roche's Seminar in Epistemology class and presented a colloquium to the TCU Philosophy Club on Tuesday. 

    Hestir said that Roche was responsible for inviting Sober to campus because of his interest in epistemology, which Hestir describes as "the philosophy of knowledge." 

    Senior philosophy and religion double major Ian Nicolay, a student in Roche's epistemology class, said Sober talked to the class about a paper he wrote regarding interpretations of the ideas of famed British philosopher David Hume.

    "His teaching style is great," said Nicolay. "He's really enthusiastic and very clear with his explanations."

    This sentiment was echoed by sophomore political science major Brett Hildebrand, who attended Sober's Wednesday lecture. Hildebrand heard about the lecture in his Philosophy of Law class offered in the political science department. He said Sober covered ideas in his lecture in such a clear way that anyone in the audience could understand, regardless of how much they had studied the subject.

    "I think the main idea [of the lecture] was that the relationship between evolution and the thought of God don't have to be in conflict with each other," Hildebrand said. "It was a smart argument. I think people can maintain their religious beliefs and also continue to believe in science. They can both consolidate with each other."

    Sober ended his lecture with a question and answer session with the crowd aided by philosophy department faculty and staff.