TheBestSchools has developed a series of civil dialogues that will allow deliberation over controversial topics in a climate of mutual respect and civility. This in an effort to inform, instruct, and spark an educated discussion, rather than a heated debate. Our latest in the series is a dialogue on the Nature of Science, featuring post-materialist biologist Rupert Sheldrake and renowned skeptic Michael Shermer. Opening statements for this dialogue will begin May 1, 2016 and conclude with closing statements on July 20, 2016.
The discussion between these two renowned scientists, so divergent in their views, will surely result in a lively dialogue. Rupert Sheldrake was trained at Cambridge as a biochemist and plant physiologist. Many of his teachers believed that God had no place in science and expected that anyone considering himself a “serious” scientist, should hold that same viewpoint. Sheldrake attempted to follow the prescribed path of his fellows, but determined that stance was not one that he could ascribe to. After spending a year in India, exploring the Hindu and Muslim religions, he returned to England, where he reconnected with his Christian upbringing.
Combining all of these experiences, Dr. Sheldrake begin to develop his theory of morphic resonance, a belief that organisms inherit a memory from previous generations. He also holds fast to the belief that science fails when it refuses to see living organisms as a whole, rather than broken down into the smallest components, and evolving by chance. His views fly in the face of traditional dogma, and are considered quite controversial. So controversial in fact, that a TED talk that he did in 2013 has been banned.
Dr. Sheldrake’s opposition in this dialogue will be Dr. Michael Shermer. Shermer went from being an evangelical Christian to being one of today’s most recognized atheists. During his studies at Pepperdine University, he felt a pull towards the concrete nature of science, rather than the rhetoric of theology. Other circumstances that occurred during his studies at Pepperdine further solidified for him the realization that there was no God, a position that he holds still today.
As the co-founder of the Skeptics Society and the author of a monthly “Skeptics” column for Scientific American magazine, he strives to promote science and critical thinking, all while debunking untruths.
We look forward to the dialogue featuring Drs. Sheldrake and Shermer, which kicks off on May 1st. Plan to join us to learn about their viewpoints on the Nature of Science. Also, prior to the upcoming dialogue, you can learn more about each of the participants in this interview with Rupert Sheldrake and this interview with Michael Shermer.
Explore our other Civil Dialogues as well: