This presentation principally examines the concepts of “biosphere” and “noosphere” following an analysis of the scientific papers of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit geologist, paleontologist and paleo-anthropologist who is also considered the founder of the modern geology and paleontology of the Chinese subcontinent. Teilhard de Chardin regarded evolution as being characterized not only by general and random movements but as a moving towards: of matter towards complexity and life and of life towards complexity and an increase of brain. From this perspective, Teilhard de Chardin carried out extensive investigations into parallelisms and canalizations in evolution. He also proposed, together with V. Vernadskij and E. Le Roy, the term “noosphere” to describe the totality of thinking beings and of their relationships. Variants of such ways of thinking about the complex systems of earth, such as the Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock, have become highly influential today, not least in modern environmentalism. As such, the work of Teilhard de Chardin can be considered as an example of a dialogue between science and theology with far-reaching cultural consequences.
LUDOVICO GALLENI is Professor of General Zoology in the Faculty of Agricultural Science at the Univeristy of Pisa. He also Professor of Science and Theology at the Istituto Superiore di Scienze Religiose “N. Stenone” Pisa and a former visiting professor at the Catholic University of Louvain in the History of Science. His main research field has been chromosomal evolution in animals and the connections between karyotype rearrangements with speciation. More recently, he has worked on simulation and mathematical modelling related to the evolution of the biosphere and ecosystems and to the application of the techniques of artificial life to speciation. This work has led him to start a research project on the scientific papers of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a forerunner of the biospherocentric theory. Prof. Galleni was a member of the Council of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT) (1998 – 2006), co-ordinator of the section of Biology of the International Research Area on Foundations of Sciences (IRAFS) of the Pontifical Lateran University (1999- 2001), co-opted among the founder member of the International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR) and is a member of the Academic Council of La Fundación DECYR (Diálogo entre Ciencia y Religión) of Argentina. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the European Journal of Science and Theology and of Quaerentibus, the Latin Journal of science and theology.
THIS PUBLIC SEMINAR WILL BE HELD IN THE SUTRO ROOM OF TRINITY COLLEGE, OXFORD, AT 8:30PM ON THURSDAY 21st FEBRUARY 2013, WITH DRINKS AT 8:15PM.