March 2014 Meeting

Photo of Dan Curewitz

Investigating our history of inquiry: My scientific, atheistic view on the value of religious texts and religious creeds

Presentation by Dan Curewitz, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 7:00 PM
Dewitt Community Library, Friends Room

About the presentation

Daniel Curewitz, Ph.D., is a secular humanist and atheist but still finds great value in the religious writings, stories, myths, and belief systems we humans have invented. When he looks at the history of the human quest for knowledge, he finds that the basic questions that still drive our inquiry remain vibrant and in many cases have been articulated in the religious writings of many theistic traditions. These questions include: How does the world work and why? What is our place in that world? How can we best organize ourselves and our behavior to survive and thrive in the world?

Asking the first question, even knowing beforehand that the answers will most likely be wrong, is the entry point into scientific inquiry. How do religious stories shed light on our attempts to extract knowledge from our surroundings and to use that knowledge to our direct benefit? In our contemporary world, how did those stories stop being gateways to inquiry and start being impediments to progress?

About the speaker

Daniel Curewitz was born in coastal Maine, and grew up physically poor (but intellectually rich) in a back-to-the-land hippie community. He attended Wesleyan University on a scholarship, and stumbled into earth and environmental science as a result of needing to fill a basic science distribution requirement. He received his Ph.D from Duke University and has spent most of his career living and working in nearly 30 countries around the world, including a nearly 10-year stint in Japan, working as a project manager on the deep sea scientific drilling vessel “Chikyu.” He is now a lecturer/instructor at the Department of Earth Sciences at Syracuse University.