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Westmont Professor to Examine Science of Belief

Jeff Schloss, who directs the Center of Faith, Ethics and Life Sciences and is T.B. Walker professor in the natural and behavioral sciences at Westmont, will explore the science of belief in a lecture at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at University Club, 1332 Santa Barbara St.

The talk — New Discoveries in Science and Religion: Are We Built to Flourish with Faith? — is sponsored by the Westmont Foundation, is free and open to the public.

Tickets are not required, but limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 565-6051.

Schloss, internationally known for his scholarship on interactions between evolutionary theory and religious faith, examines whether humans are naturally wired for faith.

“Everyone is aware of the centuries-old debate about science and the truth of religious belief: does science debunk or support belief in a creator?” Schloss asks.

“But an explosion of more recent work focuses not so much on the truth, but on the casual origin and role of religion: might it be a unique, adaptive human endowment?” he said.

The lecture describes new discoveries and explores current debates over whether faith is a pathology or an important element of individual health, personal fulfillment, and social flourishing. And it suggests the either/or polarity is too simplistic.

Schloss has co-edited several books: Understanding Moral Sentiments: Darwinian Perspectives?; The Believing Primate: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Perspectives on the Origin of Religion; Evolution and Ethics: Human
Morality in Biological and Religious Perspective
; and Altruism and Altruistic Love: Science, Philosophy, and Religion in Dialogue.

All of those books won Templeton Science-Religion Books of Distinction Awards.

Schloss, who has been teaching at Westmont since 1981, has lectured and held fellowships in programs at Wheaton, Michigan, Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Notre Dame.

He graduated from Wheaton College and earned a doctorate in ecology/evolutionary biology from Washington University in St. Louis.

— Scott Craig for Westmont College.

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