Kate: Good afternoon. It's my pleasure today to have the opportunity to introduce Doctor Scott Gilbert



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Kate: Good afternoon. It's my pleasure today to have the opportunity to introduce Doctor Scott Gilbert. Scott began his distinguished academic career at Wesleyan University, where he graduated in 1971 with a BA in both religion and biology. He continued his education at Johns Hopkins University, where he received his PhD in biology, as well as his MA in the History of Science. Scott is currently a leader in the field of Developmental Biology. He has been the Chair of the Division of Developmental and Cell Biology of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, and is currently a member of the Education Committee for the Society of Developmental Biology. Furthermore, he has been elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as the St. Petersburg Society of Naturalist.

Professor Gilbert has also authored several textbooks that are used in biology courses throughout the country. He currently has three in print entitled Developmental Biology, Bioethics, and the New Embryology and Ecological Developmental Biology. Scott has received several awards for his work, including the medal of Francois the First from the College of France, the Dwight J. Ingle Memorial Writing Award, the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award, an honorary doctorate from the University of Helsinki, and a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Grant.

In 2002, the Society for Developmental Biology awarded him its first Viktor Hamburger Prize for excellence in education, and in 2004, he was awarded the Kowalevsky Prize in Evolutionary Developmental Biology. Most recently, Professor Gilbert received a grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct research on the question of all questions, how did the turtle get its shell?

Of the numerous accomplishments Professor Gilbert has achieved, he is best known at Swarthmore for his role of professor. Scott joined the Swarthmore community in 1980, and is now the Howard A. Schneider man Professor of biology. He teaches courses on Developmental Genetics, Embryology, and the History and Critique of Science. As the students will tell you, these classes are notoriously difficult to get a spot in. I was lucky enough to get a spot in his Developmental Biology course two years ago, and I discovered that in his lectures, Professor Gilbert has unique ability to seamlessly apply perspectives from a range of disciplines, including Philosophy, Art, Religion, Sociology to the top of the hand.

In this way, he helps his students to view the study of biology in a wider, multidisciplinary context. He takes us a step further with his traditional final lecture, which is entitled Everything I need to know, I learned during gastrulation. Gastrulation, of course, being a stage of the development of an embryo. In this lesson, Professor Gilbert identifies principles from animal development and asks the class what general lessons can we take from the study of biology and how can we apply these to our own lives. Some of the principles Professor Gilbert has come up with are as follows and I quote. "The wisdom of the tadpole is paramount. Do not digest your tail until you've built your hind legs. One's feet is determined in part by how much one listens to its mother. And lastly, you don't have to be fully differentiated in order to influence your neighbors, you can still make a difference while you're young." Class of 2011, it is my honor to present Scott Gilbert.

Scott Gilbert: Thank you, Kate, and thank you class of 2001, 2011 for inviting me to speak with you. It is a great honor to think that you believe that I have something interesting and meaningful to say to you at this time. I will do my best. Looking at you now, let me first reciprocate the honor and paraphrase to you and your families the blessing of Odysseus upon the wonderful and youthful Nausicaa, Odyssey book six, "If you are human, one of those mortals living on Earth, your noble parents are thrice blessed, and thrice blessed too your brothers and sisters. In their hearts they must glow with pleasure for you." Congratulations to everyone here, students and families, on your remarkable accomplishments.

This is a special year for me, as mentioned. It's the 40th anniversary of my graduation from Wesleyan University. I was graduated as a double major in biology and religion, and when I announced this double major to my parents, my father immediately replied, "So you're going to be a Mohel." That's about right. The only profession that could combine religion and biology was to be a ritual circumciser. Little did I know at that time that this combination of majors would send me to lecture in the Vatican, in Jerusalem, and in Kyoto. I cannot predict then that my scientific field, Embryology, would go in directions that would bring me into arguments and conversations concerning cloning, stem cells, abortion, and evolution. You've been hearing for years that you never know how you will use your liberal arts education, and that's absolutely true.

I profess Embryology, the science of how one's bodies are made. A science that is the center of those debates on ethic stem cells, evolution, abortion. Moreover, it is a science that seeks answers to very ancient questions, such as, how did I come into being? How does sexual union create a new life? How do I come to look like my parents? How come I have only two eyes and that they are both in my head and nowhere else? How did my front and my back become different? How come some people have penises and other people can have babies? What traits of mine are learned culturally, and which ones did I inherit biologically? How am I like and how am I unlike other animals? Why can't I grow back my hand like salamanders do? How do my muscles get connected to my bones? I am fearfully and wonderfully made, says the Psalmist. But what is it to be wonderfully and fearfully made? How does one respond to this wonder and yirah, fear, awe of one's body?

Today, I want to go back to the source of all these questions. I want to return to the concept of wonder. I'm going to be making some hypotheses today concerning wonder and the relationships of science and religion. Now, Embryology is a profession where wonder remains an operative category. Reviewers of Embryology textbooks will write whether or not they think the book under consideration has captured the wonder of development. Wonder is actually expected in the teaching laboratory, and it is used as a motivation to learn the science. French Embryologist, Jean Rostand, said it very well when he wrote, "What a profession this is. This daily inhalation of wonder." As an Embryologist, I'm privileged to experience wonder daily and to expect to be amazed when I enter into the laboratory. For many of us, though, wonders become something we experienced only on vacations, or as a surprise. I would contend that wonder is a primary experience, the result of the mind and countering the universe, but only mystics, perhaps, can live in a state of perpetual wonder.

For most of us, wonder has a short half-life. It decays rapidly into two lesser, but still very powerful components, curiosity and awe. This is clearly seen in our language where wonder has both these meanings. Curiosity is seen in the English expression, "I wonder." Awe is seen in our declarations of the wonder of the world. Awe and curiosity both originate from wonder. From curiosity comes the quest for truth about the physical universe and the testing of ideas against other ideas and against our experiences, that is to say, the foundations of philosophy and science. From awe comes the reverence and gratitude that a characteristic of the religious attitude. Science and religion, let me hypothesize, both descend from wonder. We see this genealogy from wonder in fragments, and I'll try to put them together.

First, let's look at the path to the science. Plato and Aristotle both agreed that wonder is the beginning of knowledge. Echoing Plato's Theaetetus, Aristotle notes, "For it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin and at first began to philosophize." At the beginnings of modern science, Francis Bacon, no friend to either Aristotle or Plato, reaffirmed that wonder was "The seed of knowledge." Statements of wonder are not uncommon in the autobiographies of our cotemporary embryologists.

One of the most important statements of wonder in Embryology is from the medieval Rabbi and physician Maimonides, he writes, "A pious man of my time," that's 1190, "would say that an angel of God had to enter the womb of a pregnant woman to mold the organs of the fetus. This would constitute a miracle. But how much more of a miracle would it be if God had so empowered matter to be able to create the organs of a fetus without having to employ an angel for each pregnancy?" Indeed, my job, my career, is to discover some of the ways by which ordinary matter, whether divinely created or not, can form itself into an organized embryo, it's amazing.

The biologist and poet, Miroslav Holub writes, "Between the fifth and tenth day, the lump of stem cells differentiates into the overall body plan of the embryo and its organs. It's like a lump of iron turning into the space shuttle. In fact, it is the profoundest wonder we can imagine and accept, and at the same time, so usual that we have to force ourselves to wonder about the wondrousness of this wonder."

Now, I write about the molecules and the processes by which the embryonic stem cells interact with their neighboring cells to create the precursors of the brain, skin, heart, and gut. The knowledge of how this wonder takes place does not diminish it in any way. Rather, in positive feedback, it makes the process even more wonderful."The amazing thing about mammalian development," writes embryologist Veronica van Heyningen, "is not that it ever goes wrong, but that it ever succeeds."

Wonder can give rise to curiosity, which promotes the theorizing and testing that is science. Wonder can give rise to knowledge. But knowledge is not wisdom, as just mentioned. Moses, Jesus, Siddhartha, Muhammad would have failed their SAT's. None of them knew the number of protons in a carbon atom. None of them knew the four bases of DNA. Knowledge is critically important, but it cannot pass for wisdom. Wisdom is how to use one's knowledge to lead a righteous life. It is the framework of the mind, not its furniture. "Awareness of the divine," writes the religious philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel, "begins in wonder. Wonder generates not only knowledge," He says, "but wisdom." He continues, "The beginning of awe is wonder and the beginning of wisdom is awe. Knowledge is fostered by curiosity, wisdom is fostered by awe."

Here we have part of the genealogy from wonder. Wonder can generate both curiosity and awe. From curiosity, one gets knowledge. From awe, one can get wisdom. Commenting on the numerous times in the Bible, where awe is pronounced to be the beginning of Wisdom, Heschel claims that awe is the primary requisite of the religious attitude. "Awe precedes faith, it is at the root of faith," he said. This idea is also seen in the Scottish philosopher and essayist Thomas Carlyle, who also viewed wonder, not faith, as the basis for worship.

According to this perspective, awe, rather than faith, is the principle attitude of the religious person, since awe generates the reverence and gratitude that are critical for the religious view of the world. From wonder, one gets curiosity and awe. Curiosity leads to science and philosophy, awe to religion. Surprisingly then, science and religion, instead of finding themselves antagonistic enemies, find themselves to be close relatives, cousins, grandchildren of wonder. Any fights between them are within the family, not between aliens with separate genealogies.

What do we do with this newfound family? Here, again, Heschel helps us by stating the problem in a stark existential manner, "It is not a sense of awe, wonder, or fear, which is the root of religion but rather the question of what to do with the feeling for the mystery of living, what to do with awe, wonder, and fear." "Moreover," warns Heschel, "as civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines. Humankind will not perish for want of information, but for want of appreciation."

The problem is two-fold. First, why doesn't our civilization recognize wonder? Second, how do we respond to it? The answer to the first question, in part, is due to the structure of our disciplines. There is, in Western thought, a fear of wonder and its power. The philosopher Mary-Jane Rubenstein has documented that one of the West's most important philosophical project has been the internalization of wonder into philosophy, making wonder, itself, an object explainable by rational thought. Wonder may have been the font of knowledge for Aristotle, but he claimed that after it initiated curiosity, wonder would be dangerous, preventing one from rationally realizing the better state of knowing causes. Similarly, René Descartes and Francis Bacon saw wonder as a passion that preceded knowledge, and which had to be jettisoned quickly. To them, the rational control of the wondrous was a source of power. In religion, wonder gets quickly replaced by theology and piety.

One important project, one that is visible in some areas of biology and in some areas of religion, is to take wonder seriously and to realize that it is becoming endangered. It cannot be assumed anymore. According to the model I'm presenting, both science and religion depend on wonder and will perish without wonder. Science and religion should be allies in preserving the sources of wonder. At present, we have three enormous social sources of power: science, religion, and economic profit. As long as science and religion remain enemies, money wins. It will create technologies out of science, for the pollution of the planet in the name of progress, and will create theologies that conflate a person's worth with his or her financial worth.

Imagine a series of real alliances between science and religion. Imagine Evangelic Protestants with a serious view of stewardship, allying themselves with evolutionary biologists for the protection of wetlands. Imagine staunch Roman Catholics, making agreements with planned parenthood to protect the fetus by eliminating BPA and other fetotoxic chemicals from the environment. Yes, it means dealing with the devil. But let's assume that both creationists, Protestants and some agnostic biologists both want their children to see loons landing on the lake and to know the taste of freshly caught trout. Let's assume that the Catholic archbishop and the physician who prescribes birth control pills both want healthy babies in healthy families. These are certainly not unreasonable assumptions. Such alliances are, indeed, forming.

One recent example, taught here, concerns the groups mobilizing to stop mountaintop removal coal mining in the Appalachians. Which brings me to another part of this story, the arts. Do not expect me to present here a discussion of wonder and the art, but since I'm giving landscape examples, I should mention a passage from a book that I read while auditing a course here on landscape painting. At the dawn of Chinese landscape painting, Lu Chi found it difficult to believe what he and other artists had actually accomplished, "In a sheet of paper is contained the infinite. And evoked from an inch-sized heart, an endless panorama." The landscape painting was not just a picture, it was a mysterious creation that expressed the wondrous essence of the cosmos.

Another landscape artist, in this case, the photographer Ansel Adams wrote, "Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his or her search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and then the wonder surrounding him." The arts have a role in transmitting wonder and even in creating new wonders. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World were artistic and engineering marvels, not natural ones. Transmitting and creating wonder are not the sole roles of the arts, nor are they the sole goals of science and religion, but these purposes of creating and transmitting wonder are found at the origins. I bring this up because the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining would have remained a local issue were it not for artists, filmmakers, painters, writers, and musicians, who bring the scientific and religious and cultural messages to the public. Science and religion have a common origin in wonder, and the arts play important roles in the creation and transmission of wonder.

Now, I want to continue by discussing some alliances that could be made between religion and biology, and why the liberal arts must play a major role in forming such alliances. Certainly, one has to look at the pluralities of perspectives concerning life. Each of us, right now, is experiencing this amphitheater in different ways. Some of us have been trained to readily see the architecture that recalls classical Rome. Some of us will see this proscenium stage and reflect on the value of performance and ritual in our graduation. Some of us will see here an integration of nature and culture, engineered in the garden. Some of us will smile, as we enter into this grove of sacred trees, and reflect on the semiotics of ancient initiation rites. Some of us will recognize the garnet schist that came near the surface during the building of the Appalachian Mountains a billion years ago and whose colors this college has adopted as its own. Some of us will see that the rhododendrons and Mountain-laurel are blooming at the same time that their pollinators have metamorphosed into flying bees, and that the plants' colors and scents enable their symbiotic insects to complete the plant's lifecycle. They know that these rhododendrons originated in the Himalayas and that in each flower, the male part makes the pollen before the female part can receive it, thereby preventing self-pollination.

The walk leading to the amphitheater is lined with dawn redwoods, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, a critically endangered tree that was thought to be extinct until a single stand was discovered in China by Hu & Cheng in 1948. To appreciate this amphitheater, then, one should not only know science, but also philosophy and art. Not only sociology, but engineering. Alliances and connections. I hope that you are now appreciating the amphitheater in ways that you had not known before you came in. Several people helped explain this amphitheater to me, and that is why the liberal arts education is so critical. It is the context wherein science, social science, and the humanities interact, appreciate, and enrich one another.

Thomas Huxley, Darwin's friend and colleague, used a cultural metaphor to argue for the relevance of science in liberal education. He said, "To a person uninstructed in natural history, his country or seaside stroll is a walk through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall." I use Huxley for another reason, too. He was probably the person most responsible for the current paradigm of warfare between science and religion. It was he who popularized the vision of evolution as a gladiator spectacle, and it was he who felt that, as an agnostic, he had the right to teach biology at a first-rate university. In Victorian England, he could not teach biology at Cambridge or Oxford, he had to be an Anglican clergyman to do that, for nature was God's creation, and only men of God could interpret it. Science was in the service of religion. Huxley used evolution as a way of separating nature from God, and in so doing, helped create and propagate the paradigm of science versus religion. Neither of these paradigms, science in the service of religion or the warfare of science and religion, work today. We need new paradigms relating the offspring of wonder.

Now, one such paradigm may come from the mixing of evolutionary biology with embryology. This paradigm changes evolutionary biology from being a strictly competitive process, to being a process that integrates cooperation with competition, with cooperation actually taking a dominant role. The living world, it seems, is full of strange alliances.

Let me quickly introduce two biological principles. First, reciprocal induction in the embryo. Reciprocal induction is how bodies are made. The fertilized egg divides several times and produces a few different cell types. These cells then interact with each other to produce new cell types and organs. For instance, when a group of cells extending from the brain to the skin touch the cells of the head epidermis, those epidermal skin cells are told that they're not going to be skin anymore, they are going to be lens cells. Those lens cells, as they start differentiating into the lens, those skin cells tell the brain cells to become the retina. The brain cells become transformed into the retina, as the brain cells themselves turn the skin cells into lens. The retina and the lens did not exist before this interaction. This reciprocal interaction creates new things, lens, retina, an eye. During evolution, one builds new organs by changing the timing or placement of these interactions. That's reciprocal induction in the embryo.

Second, I want to mention mutualistic symbiosis, where interactions between different species create new and stable types of organisms. The rhododendron that we see today cannot complete its lifecycle without its bees, and the bees need the nectar from the rhododendron to make its offspring. Here we see the reciprocal interactions on a large scale, between adults. This isn't the only major symbiotic effort for our rhododendrons. The root cells of the rhododendrons actually become invaded by a fungus that penetrates its cells. This fungus extends the surface area of the roots, enabling the rhododendron to absorb more water and nutrients. The rhododendron is thus able to supply food to its fungal partner, in addition to giving it to the bees. Reciprocity in embryonic development between cells and reciprocity between organisms, that's the way life is.

Now, these two things, induction and symbiosis, actually are related. Both reciprocal induction and mutualistic symbiosis are parts interacting to form a new whole. Induction occurs when the cells of the embryo form new cells by their interaction, and symbiosis occurs when the lifecycle of the organism depends on interactions between different species.

One of the things that embryology has recently discovered, all life develops as a community. Life develops symbiotically. Neither animals, nor plants develop from a single set of genes. Some of the reciprocal embryonic induction is actually coming from cells of different species. The trees that you see here are not individuals. Each tree is a community ecosystem. Not only is a tree not an individual, it never was. Its development is determined by numerous different species of organisms. Their very cells are populated by other organisms. The parable is not only of the mustard seed, the parable is of the orchid seed.

Consider the beauty of the orchid. Note its symmetry, note its beauty. But consider also that the orchid seed is not able to germinate when planted. It is too small and it lacks the nutrients that will enable it to germinate. Moreover, its seed coat is too thick to allow nutrients to enter from the soil. In order to germinate, the orchid seed must fuse with that of a fungus, a fungal spore. The fungus will provide the nutrients to allow the orchids to grow, and in so doing, makes its home and shelter. The orchid will enable the fungus to propagate, while the fungus allows the orchid to germinate. This is the way life works. One makes alliances that aid both partners.

Biologists Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan put it this way, when they say that an organism is, "The co-opting of strangers, the involvement and infolding of others into even more complex and miscegenous genomes. The acquisition of the reproducing other, of the microbe and the genome, this is no mere sideshow. Attraction, merger, fusion, incorporation, cohabitation, recombination, both permanent and cyclical, and other forms of forbidden couplings, are the main sources of Darwin's missing variation."

It's not only the plants. I am made by associations. I am made by reciprocal interactions between the cells produced by the fertilized egg, and I'm also made by interactions between me and the world. I am, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made, and so are you. 90% of all the cells in your body are bacterial, and they have been intimately involved in making you who you are because mammals do not form their intestines alone, they form them with bacterial help. We don't form our immune systems alone, the bacteria guide the development of our immune system. We have outsourced developmental signals to our bacteria.

There are salamanders that store algae in their reproductive glands, so that the eggs get covered with photosynthetic plants that supply oxygen to the egg mass. There are bacteria that determine the sex of some insects, and some nudibranchs actually transfer the chloroplasts from their algal food into their skin and become solar-powered sea slugs. After that single firsts algal meal, they never have to eat again, they use solar energy. There's probably no such thing as a biological individual, so evolution is probably more about cooperation than it is about competition. Organisms that cooperate best, survive best. I am Team Scott Gilbert. I am as much a composite organism as the rhododendrons here. You may have read Bruno Latour's essay We Have Never Been Modern. The biological equivalent is We were never individuals.

This paradigm of interacting entities that form selves by their interactions is beginning to take shape. In the writings of philosopher Donna Haraway, we see an ethic of becoming with, where Deleuze and Guattari meet Darwin and Margulis. Instead of the existential philosophy, characteristic of the competitive evolutionary paradigm I against all others, she has a paradigm of I become with and through the other. Biological science says this is not mere metaphor. Haraway was trained as an embryologist, and she relates the becoming with philosophy directly to both reciprocal induction and symbiosis. We see this biological paradigm being expressed in religious views, as well. The notion of an un-centered self, becoming with others has, of course, been a major part of Buddhist thought.

Indeed, the latest issue of the Swarthmore alumni magazine has an interview with professor Don Swearer about this very concept in Buddhist thought. We are now starting to see this concept in Western religions. These strands were always there, but now they are now becoming emphasized. The current Pope, writing as Cardinal Ratzinger, noted that in Augustine's parity of substance and relation, "The undivided sway of thinking in terms of substance is ended. Relation is discovered as an equally valid primordial mode of reality." Can it be that Pope Benedict XVI is in agreement with lapsed Catholic Donna Haraway, who claims, "The smallest unit of analysis is the relationship."

The writings of one of the leading rabbis of the 19th century, Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch, claimed, "One glorious chain of giving and receiving, unites all creatures. None has power or means for itself, it receives in order to give, gives in order to receive, and finds therein the accomplishment of the purpose of its existence." The Jewish toast L'chaim, to life is actually in plural form to lives. It makes symbiotic sense. Our biology has caught up with reverend Martin Luther King Junior's theological and ecological vision, "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." There may be a new paradigm emerging, where religion and science can be allies. Interdependency is the way of all flesh. Reciprocal induction and mutual symbioses are excellent models, literally, win-win situations.

We can see this historically. Symbiosis is a Greek word. The Latin translation of symbiosis, Convivencia, is a very technical term, has a very technical meaning. It refers to the coexistence and mutual interactions between the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities during the Umayyad rule in medieval Spain, where all three prospered together. Indeed, today, science and religion will have to become partners in some sort of symbiosis, if they're going to preserve wonder, and thereby preserve themselves. When we consider how powerful religion is in the affairs of the world, and how powerful science is in the affairs of the world, then it is no exaggeration to say that the future course of world history depends on the relations and alliances between these two centers of power.

Moreover, such interactions are occurring, but very subtly. While most of the attention gets focused on the evolution creation debates, the real action is occurring in conservation biology. I will make a hypothesis that the major arguments for species preservation come not from science, but from religion or morality, in general. When you go to the websites of conservation organizations and you look to see why species should be preserved, the scientific answers are usually phrased in economic terms of possible economic good for humans. Species should be preserved because they might make an anticancer drug such as taxol. They may serve as unique food resources. They may serve as biological checks on other species. They are necessary for scientific inquiry. They may be critical for soil aeration, and their genes might be important for making products in the future.

This doesn't get to the heart of the matter. Why preserve the mountain gorilla? The monarch butterfly, the leatherback turtle, the horseshoe crab, the Bengal tiger, or the California condor? What can we get from the Muhlenberg bog turtle that we can't find in Red-eared sliders or painted turtles? Why preserve a species? The answer won't be found in that above scientific list. I would hypothesize the answer is actually religious, moral, aesthetic. The perception that humans should not be able and not commit a total species to being wiped out to extinction.

I'm glad to say that in many of these conservation websites, especially the general ones, one finds non-scientific reasons to preserve biodiversity. Curiosity, beauty, and wonder. The NatureServe site is explicit. After mentioning wonder and curiosity, this organization asks, "Does every species have a right to exist? If so, then our call to preserve creation is clear. If not, humility in the face of our capacity to despoil the land is called for. Many of the Judeo-Christian heritage believe their faith enjoins them to be responsible stewards of creation, and similar things run deep in other religious traditions, as well."

Two things. First, this very idea highlights the inversion of nature and humanity during the past 50 years. We are being called upon to preserve nature. Nature needs us. Nature has never needed us before. Nature was a source of wonder, or terror. It is now weak and needs our help. This is what Bill McKibben has called, "The end of nature." Not the end of organisms, but the end of this idea of a powerful, sublime, wonder-inspiring and indifferent, independent other.

Second, this site identifies species conservation as a religious, not as a scientific idea. While I'm constantly angry at religions for their insipid attacks against evolution, I'm not all that dispirited when I hear that America is a religious country. The question is how do we use that impulse? I think that the disagreements over the origins of biodiversity pale in significance when compared to the benefits of alliance for the preservation of biodiversity.

Indeed, under the symbiotic model that I'm proposing, one of the roles played by religion and ethics will be in deciding what is a wonder, what is an atrocity. Science may tell us that mountaintop mining destroys the habitats for fish and invertebrates, and destroys streams, but it is not science that makes the judgment that this is wrong, or that it is not worth the economic advantages gained by mining the coal.

This is where I end today, with religion and science being taught at liberal arts colleges. Science education at a liberal arts college is a unique thing. First, it is a conscious symbiosis with the larger intellectual community, wherein nascent scientists also learn philosophy, religion, political science, arts, economics, and numerous other disciplines. My European colleagues are astounded when I tell them that I teach biology to poets, historians, economists and musicians. This context benefits both science and the humanities.

First, as part of this symbiosis, students in the humanities and social sciences, learn scientific methods of data interpretation and acquisition. One of the programs of the liberal arts is that its alumni should recognize excellence in whatever form it might take. One of the programs for teaching science at liberal arts colleges is so that its alumni can recognize garbage, no matter how well it is packaged. In these days of official-looking websites, humanities students can gain much from scientific standards of evidence.

Reciprocally, the science students benefit enormously from the humanities. Physiologist and philosopher Robert Root-Bernstein found that among scientists who have made major discoveries, nearly all of them have been trained or self-trained in the literature or the arts. They were not the technocrats. They were the ones who saw the patterns. This week is the 50th anniversary of the operon model in biology, and Francois Jacob, one of its discoverers, notes that this discovery was the result of both intuition and science, what he calls night science.

It relies on seeing similarities between different things and putting them together in a new context. The pioneering neurophysiologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal said that scientific discoveries would probably be made by those who combine the science with art and literature. Schrödinger made tapestries. Marie Curie wrote poetry. Rosalind Franklin, Richard Feynman, Michael Faraday each painted.

Moreover, many of the science students take courses in, and have friends who are studying religion. Here, religion is not taught as a set of dogmas, but as an inquiry into the meaning of life, death, and society. At liberal arts colleges, science students can see how religion can be respected, not seen merely as superstitious remnants of past belief. Students of religion and other humanities, can see science as a creative human endeavor, not as the robotic accumulation of new facts.



The liberal arts college forms what historian and anthropologist James Clifford has called contact zones. Regions where different cultures become juxtaposed to each other. These contact zones, whether on the planet, in embryos, or in colleges, are where new things emerge. Here in the liberal arts college, students of science, humanities, the performing arts, and the social sciences literally sit to eat at the same table. Commensalism is the biological term for this type of symbiosis, and it literally means eating at the same table. It's one of the best parts of Swarthmore College and a model to the world.

If a new paradigm is going to come into being, you're the people who will have to forge it. If a new paradigm is to emerge, one that will save wonder, it will have to be generated between people who can appreciate, respect, and even understand each other, who can understand the other, who can truly become with the other. At Swarthmore, you have participated in the wondrous, you've been fortunate enough to live here, expecting wonder both inside and outside the classroom. May you live your lives integrating knowledge and wisdom, experiencing, appreciating, creating and protecting wonder. Keep making strange friends and unexpected associations. Thank you.
Directory: sites -> default -> files -> assets -> documents -> news-events
news-events -> Tom S.: Good afternoon. I'm Tom Stephenson. I'm the provost here Swarthmore. And on behalf of president Rebecca Chopp, it's my pleasure to introduce this afternoon's speaker, Moishe Postone
news-events -> Sa'ed Atshan: Hello friends. Welcome, good afternoon, everyone. Thank you so much for coming. It's so nice to see so many beautiful faces
news-events -> Speaker 1: Of course I have to begin my thanking Jasmina. Let me just tell you a little bit of a story. She asked me to participate with some feminists in Europe working in degree programs and gender studies
news-events -> Speaker 1: Thank you so much for coming. It's delightful to see you all here. I will be brief but it's an honor and a pleasure to introduce my colleague Phil to you. You're in for an extraordinary treat today
news-events -> Sarah Willie-LeBreton: Good afternoon everybody and welcome to the faculty lecture series. It's my pleasure to introduce Peter Schmidt, who will be introducing Nora Johnson, today's speaker
news-events -> Larry Schall: My name is Larry Schall. I'm Class of '75. Also, I've been a vice president here for 15 years. It's my pleasure to introduce Peter Schmidt to you tonight
news-events -> Sa'ed Atshan: Hello friends. Welcome, good afternoon, everyone. Thank you so much for coming. It's so nice to see so many beautiful faces
news-events -> Speaker 1: All right. So, my journalism career here didn't my journalism career didn't get off to an auspicious start. I started here, at Swarthmore College, on the Phoenix

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