Free Public Forum at TNCC Examines Human Existence Past, Present and Future


Published: March 24, 2010

Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) joins the Lutheran Council of Tidewater to present a free public forum on TNCC’s Hampton campus titled, “Convergence: What Does it Mean to be Human? … From Apes and Early Humans to Trans-human Cyborgs.” The panel discussion takes place Tuesday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Dr. Mary T. Christian Auditorium located in Templin Hall.

Dr. Charles Smith, who teaches Biology and Religious Studies at TNCC, will serve as moderator for guest panelists Dr. Barbara King of the College of William and Mary and Dr. Philip Hefner, professor emeritus of systematic theology for the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Illinois. The two educators will present their views on human nature, its relationship with the apes and human ancestors, and they will look ahead to the future of human technology and spirituality. After each speaker’s 30-minute presentation, both will take questions and comments from the audience.

As a biological anthropologist and educator, King specializes in ape communication, culture, and cognition; hominid evolution; and dynamic systems theory with emphasis placed on the impact of African ape behavior on the history of humans. As a result of her research, the University of Oklahoma graduate has written several books, including The Dynamic Dance: Nonvocal Communication in African Great Apes and Evolving God: A Provocative View on the Origins of Religion. Currently, she is editing The Journal of Developmental Processes, a new journal that takes a comprehensive, holistic view of developmental processes in humans, other primates, and other mammals.

Hefner, an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, has taught many Lutheran seminars across the country and held several visiting teaching and lecturing appointments at seminaries, colleges, and universities in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia. In addition, Hefner helped to create the Chicago Center for Religion and Science, later renamed the Zygon Center for Religion and Science. He was the center’s first director until 2003 and also served as the editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science until 2008. Hefner holds bachelor’s degrees from Midland Lutheran College and Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary and a Ph.D from University of Chicago.

This forum is made possible through a TNCC Educational Foundation grant and the Lutheran Council of Tidewater.

For more information, contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Special Events at 825-2725.

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