Gerald ostdiekScience & Religion

Philosopher, Biosemiotician (USA)

Gerald Ostdiek is assistant professor at Charles University in Prague, and a researcher at the University of Hradec Králové. He grounds his philosophical efforts within the study of semiotics as biology and culture, and the all too real consequences of reciprocity, radical continuity, and reproduction with variation plus selection. His experience varies from years spent in construction labor – both skilled and unskilled, as a wage-earning artist – mostly theater, and an artisan – furniture design and construction, as well as language teacher and now philosopher. His PhD is in history and philosophy of science, and MA in philosophy of religion. He hails from a working class suburb of an unimportant city in the middle of the United States, and first read On the Origin of the Species in a cathartic act of teenage rebellion, after being instructed that it is filled with lies straight from the pit of hell.

 

Talk Title

Believing in Biology: The Religious Imagination of Living Things (Including People)

Conventional notions of religion place it beyond the range of empirical study and immune to criticism: and yet hold it as a valid means of knowing. It is said to function as a telescope, bringing into perception otherwise unimaginable objects. But religious perception shows no consistency beyond that of commonly held culture; and we reject this notion empirically. Following the entailments of Darwin’s Ontology, I argue that religion (as well as knowing) is a matter of biology. It functions as a channeling of interpretation and results in behavior. Religious faith is animal behavior, i.e., acting on perception sans critical analysis. To act on faith is to embrace the animal self and the whims of Darwin's jungle. To embrace skepticism is to act upon that which is most uniquely human – the resources of self-reflection, philosophy and science, which serve to fact-check our perceptions and lead to more competent believing.