Terry Lectures to conclude look at science vs. religion in Dec. 3 and 4 talks

(Illustration by Michael Helfenbein)Keith S. Thomson, former director of both Yale’s Peabody Museum and Graduate School and executive officer of the American Philosophical Society, will deliver the remaining two Dwight H. Terry lectures in the series “Jefferson and Darwin: Science and Religion in Troubled Times” (originally scheduled for Oct. 15 and 18) on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 3 and 4.

The title of the Dec. 3 lecture is “Apes and Academics, Debates and Sermons,” and the concluding talk on Dec. 4 is titled “Science, Religion, and the Contest for Authority.”

Free and open to the public, both lectures will take place in the auditorium of Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St., at 4:15 p.m.

In his first two lectures, Thomson examined the interplay between science and religion in the 18th and 19th centuries, principally in the lives and thoughts of two familiar, but very different intellectual giants, Thomas Jefferson and Charles Darwin.

A self-proclaimed deist, who eschewed organized religions including Christianity, Jefferson was nonetheless a firm adherent to the principles of Natural Theology and the literal truth of the biblical Genesis. Darwin, having been brought up within Natural Theology and having studied to become a cleric, ended up an agnostic. In his remaining lectures Thomson will examine the conflicts between science and religion in contemporary culture for a fuller perspective on the seemingly irreconcilable dichotomy between faith and reason.

Thomson, a historian of science, is the author of more than 200 scientific papers and 12 books, including the just published “Jefferson's Shadow: the Story of his Science.” He was director of the Yale Peabody Museum 1976-1979 and dean of Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 1979-1986.  

The Terry Lectureship invites preeminent scholars in religion, the sciences, and philosophy to address issues concerning the ways in which science and philosophy inform religion and religion’s application to human welfare. It is among Yale’s most distinguished lectureships.

View the first two lectures here and here.