Ashland University Professors to Discuss Science and Morality

Ashland University Professors to Discuss Science and Morality

10/7/13 ASHLAND, Ohio – Two Ashland University professors will participate in a forum on the question of “What Makes Us Moral?” on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall in the Schar College of Education.

Dr. Mason Posner, professor of biology, and Dr. Craig Hovey, associate professor of religion, will discuss the question of science and morality. The event, sponsored by the Department of Religion, is free and open to the public.

“A lot of people think that science and religion are simply at odds with each other,” Hovey said. “We hope to explore one way that these two areas can come together around a common set of questions and have a positive conversation.”

The discussion will focus on the roots of moral behavior and concepts.

“I am looking forward to sharing ideas on the evolution of behavior and the motivations for moral decisions,” Posner said. “This evening will be a good opportunity to integrate ideas from the sciences and humanities on what makes humans, and possibly other species, moral."

Dr. Dawn Weber, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, is excited about the event.

"This is what college is all about -- individuals from different disciplines and perspectives coming together to address common questions,” Weber said. “When students and the public come together to listen and discuss common issues from a variety of perspectives, we all begin to think more deeply about our beliefs and we develop the communication skills to discuss our differences."

The event also will serve as a book launch for Dr. Hovey’s new book, “What Makes Us Moral? Science, religion and the shaping of the moral landscape: A Christian response to Sam Harris,” which was recently published by SPCK Publishing.

Copies of Hovey’s book will be available at the event and a book signing will follow the panel discussion.

“The book is a rigorous critique of the popular atheist writer Sam Harris who envisions a world where reason and science alone determine our values,” Hovey said. Harris is best known as one of the “New Atheists” along with Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens.

“Harris has a vision in which scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge we need. It’s very shortsighted. We need deeper conversations and greater openness to the truth no matter where we find it,” Hovey said.

Ashland University, which has been ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ##