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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

R.A.Fisher: A Faith Fit for Eugenics

13th February 2007, 16:30 to 18:00, Cosin's Hall, Palace Green

Conventional accounts of scientists' faith in relation to their theories take for granted that their religious practices are at not at least as important for understanding `religion and science' in their lives. The career of Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1890-1962), population geneticist and founder of the neo-Darwinian synthesis, illustrates how a Pelagian perspective, transcending the Reformed faith-works dichotomy, can enrich accounts of the religion of scientists. Scholars have struggled to find coherence in Fisher's commitments to Darwinism, Anglican Christianity, and national eugenics. The problem is addressed by asking what in Fisher's practical experience gave coherence to his interests and beliefs. It was the family that rendered a mathematically-based eugenic Darwinian Christianity not just possible for Fisher, but vital.

Professor James Moore is a noted Darwin scholar and historian of science. He has held visiting professorships or fellowships at Harvard University, McMaster University, and the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University. He is currently on the Charles Darwin Trust’s steering committee for promoting public understanding of evolution. Professor Moore is currently an IAS Fellow at University College.

The IAS seminar series is intended for a more specialist audience and places are by invitation only. However, if you are interested in attending a seminar please contact the IAS and if space allows you will be invited to attend.

Contact for more information about this event.