Students engage in diverse discussion on the origin of man
For Khadijah Kennedy, science has its limits.
While in attendance for University of Alberta Professor Denis Lamoureux's Monday night discussion on the global debate between evolution and creation, the Chicago freshman was glad students were shown a variety of viewpoints.
"Science only goes so far, then there's God," Kennedy said. "I think (Lamoureux) has his opinions. Everyone has their own. I think he has good reasons for his beliefs."
Lamoureux, a professor of science and religion at the University of Alberta, Canada, gave a presentation titled "Beyond the Creation vs. Evolution Debate" at Plachta Auditorium in Warriner Hall.
The discussion explored methods of discussing evolutionary science and creationism side by side, dispelling a "false dichotomy" Lamoureux described as polarizing the discussion into just two sides.
He hoped to show students a wide array of variations in evolutionary and religious beliefs. Kennedy said she felt the event could help CMU navigate their own discussions and further develop their beliefs.
"It's important because some people are not exposed to these things," she said. "It might change their opinion on life. It's valuable for some who don't really have any beliefs."
A born-again Christian, Lamoureux used his own career as a dentist and evolutionary scientist as an example for the fluidity and breadth of possibilities in answering the question of man's origin.
"I think we have to get beyond this idea that there are only two positions: Evolution and creation," Lamoureux said. "You're either on the so-called science side, or the so-called religious side."
Hoping to break down the separation between religious believers and non-believers, Lamoureux worried that society had become entrenched in categories too strict to encompass all belief systems.
"My concern is the issue of categories," he said. "It's really an either-or kind of thing. Are we trapped in this dichotomy, or are there some middle grounds?"
Stating that 40 percent of respected scientists believe in reincarnation and that Pope John Paul II and other religious leader have endorsed evolution, Lamoureux was hopeful that humanity is starting to see the connection between science and religion.
"We all step away from our scientific measurements and decide what we make of the evidence," he said. "That is a religious and philosophical decision. Science is limited to the physical. I recognize the explanatory power of evolutionary biology; the biological evidence is overwhelming. When I look at the beauty of nature, I get an inkling that someone is behind it."
Describing religion as a constant, widespread facet of human society, Lamoureux spoke about the evolution of religion throughout the history of the world.
"The Earth evolved, but so did religion," he said. "The only reason we have so much religion is because it, too was naturally selected at some point in time."
Teleological evolution, Lamoureux said, suggests that a higher power might be "behind" evolution. This sentiment impressed Corunna freshman Deven Robinson, who said he believed in science and the Christian origin story, but never considered the two could be combined.
"It opened my eyes to the idea that you can tie (religion and science) together," Robinson said. "God could have created evolution through intelligent design. I believed in Adam and Eve, and evolution. It tied them together."
Robinson said the discussion is important to students dead-set on a certain belief, opening their minds to new, more inclusive concepts.
"It can change your viewpoint," he said of the event. "Even if you might be wrong, this can open your eyes."
Redford sophomore Sabryna Groves said dispelling Lamoureux's "false dichotomy" could show other students that there is more to life than science versus religion.
"There are people who stand in that dichotomy," she said. "They should be exposed to more possibilities"