Denis Alexander, Emeritus Director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, invites you to a party organised by Cambridge University Press to launch his new book ‘Genes, Determinism and God’.

Date: Thursday 13th July, 6.00 p.m.

Place: CUP Bookshop, 1-2 Trinity Street, Cambridge

Cambridge University Press would be really grateful if you could e-mail ehunter@cambridge.org if you are able to come. To make it really easy, here is a sentence you can just copy and paste to ehunter@cambridge.org:

“Thank you for your invitation to the launch party of ‘Genes, Determinism and God’ on July 13th. I am pleased to accept”.

The book developed out of the Gifford Lectures which Professor Alexander gave at St. Andrews University a few years ago.

A 20% discount on this title can be obtained by following this link: www.cambridge.org/ALEXANDER17

After some drinks, nibbles and mingling, Professor Alexander will give a (very!) short talk about the book followed by some time for Q&A. The aim is to explain why he ended up giving the Giffords and then writing a book which engages with history, genetics (the bulk of the book), human behavioural traits, law, philosophy and theology.

Professor Alexander does hope you can come – and invites you, by all means, to pass this  invitation on if you can think of others who might be interested in coming.

 

Genes, Determinism and God:

Over the past centuries the pendulum has constantly swung between an emphasis on the role of either nature or nurture in shaping human destiny, a pendulum often energised by ideological considerations. In recent decades the flourishing of developmental biology, genomics, epigenetics, and our increased understanding of neuronal plasticity, have all helped to subvert such dichotomous notions. Nevertheless the media still report the discovery of a gene ‘for’ this or that behaviour and the field of behavioural genetics continues to extend its reach into the social sciences, reporting the heritability of such human traits as religiosity and political affiliation.  There are therefore many continuing challenges to notions of human freedom and moral responsibility with consequent implications for social flourishing, the legal system and religious beliefs. This book critically examines these challenges, concluding that genuine free will, often influenced by genetic variation, emerges from an integrated view of human personhood derived from contemporary biology.

 

Chapters:

  1. Human personhood fragmented?: nature-nurture discourse from antiquity to Galton;
  2. Reifying the fragments?: nature-nurture discourse from Galton to the twenty-first century;
  3. The impact of the new genetics?: how contemporary biology is changing the landscape of ideas;
  4. Reshaping the matrix: integrating the human in contemporary biology;
  5. Is the worm determined?: gene variation and behaviour in animals;
  6. Prisoners of the genes?: understanding quantitative behavioural genetics;
  7. Behavioural molecules?: understanding molecular behavioural genetics;
  8. Mensa, mediocrity or meritocracy?: the genetics of intelligence, religion and politics;
  9. Gay genes?: genetics and sexual orientation;
  10. Not my fault?: the use of genetics in the legal system;
  11. Causality, emergence and freedom?: tackling some tough philosophical questions;
  12. Made in the image of God? A conversation between genetics and theology.