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Genes and Genesis

Jonathan Sacks, Steven Pinker

07/03/2005 11:45 am
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Psychologist Steven Pinker has been described as one of the 100 most influential people in the world today. In a series of bestselling books, he has applied evolutionary theory to the study of the mind, seeing the brain as a computer and human nature as instinctive, shaped and determined by natural selection.

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is a leading exponent of Judaism, both as a scholar and a theologian. He has written extensively about Judaism’s emphasis on moral responsibility and the development of moral values as fundamental to the religion.

Can these two views be reconciled? In this unique session, they debated with American philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein the big questions of free will, morality and the existence of universal truths.

Jonathan Sacks

Jonathan Sacks is a global religious leader and philosopher, sits in the House of Lords, and is the author of 25 books and the recipient of many international prizes. He is currently Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University and Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University. He is also Professor of Law, Ethics and the Bible at King’s College London. He served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth between September 1991 and September 2013.

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker is Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for the New York Times, Time, and The New Republic, and is the author of seven books, most recently, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.

Rebecca Goldstein

Rebecca Goldstein was born into an orthodox jewish family. Winner of the National Jewish Book Award for her fiction and recipient of a Macarthur Genius grant for her philosophy, she is both an academic philosopher and philosophical novelist and has written biographies of Godel and Spinoza.Thirty-six Arguments for the Existence of God explores challenging questions through the medium of fiction.