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November Community Forum: Why Are Humans Selfish?

November 10, 2011

Category: Events, Religion & Philosophy

What causes humans to be self-serving and self-indulgent? Are there biological or other bases for this behavior? Are we incurably captive to it, or is it possible to overcome such tendencies? If so, how? Over the past several thousand years, theologians and philosophers have constantly wrestled with this question. The Christian tradition attributes our corrupted nature to the Genesis "Fall," and the resulting concept of original sin, viewing it as something we are powerless to control without divine intervention.

Studies of the biological and social sciences over the last two centuries have led to a quite different understanding of the origin and nature of humans. These studies suggest that genetically conditioned biological functions are at least partly responsible for our selfish tendencies. Is it possible that new insights into why we behave in self-centered ways can help us gain better control of those inclinations, both individually and as a society?

On Tuesday, November 15, 2011, a panel of presenters from the areas of systematic theology, philosophy, psychology, and evolutionary biology will present their views on the issue. Panel members are Trevor Eppeheimer, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Hood Theological seminary; Seth Holtzman, chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Catawba College; Pete Prunkl, former Associate Professor of Psychology at Quincy College; and Robert Voelker, Evolutionary and Molecular Biologist and former Lutheran pastor.
Come join us at the next Catawba College Community Forum on  Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. in Tom Smith Auditorium of Ralph W. Ketner Hall  on the campus of Catawba College. Admission, as always, is free.

On a related note: On Monday, November 14, also in Tom Smith Auditorium, at 7:00 p.m. (note the earlier time!) the Religion and Philosophy Department at Catawba, along with Center for Faith & the Arts, will present the film The Exorcism of Emily Rose. A discussion will follow. This acclaimed film is definitely NOT a horror movie like that older one with a similar title. Based on a real event, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is an intelligent study of two different ways of understanding human beings, and as such, it makes a great prologue to the Forum presentation the following evening. Admission to the movie is also free.


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