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Emory University’s Melvin J. Konner delivers Townes Lecture March 20

Melvin J. Konner, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor, Department of Anthropology, and the Program in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology, Emory University

Cultural anthropologist Melvin J. Konner of Emory University will  deliver the Charles H. Townes Lecture on Faith and Reason Tuesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. in Shaw Hall of the Melvin and Dollie Younts Conference Center on the Furman University campus.

Dr. Konner’s CLP talk, “Faith: A Scientific Defense,” is free and open to the public. A book signing and reception will follow Konner’s remarks.

Konner will also speak earlier March 20 at a luncheon presentation in the Birmingham Room of Younts Conference Center. His 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. talk, “The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit,” is free and open to the public by reservation on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are requested by Tuesday, March 13 (call 864-294-3777 or email

Konner is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor in the Department of Anthropology, and the Program in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory, and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Konner received his B.A. in Anthropology from Brooklyn College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University. He also holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

Konner was a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard before moving to Emory where he served as chair for several years. In addition to these academic positions, Konner has also served as a trustee for the Russell Sage Foundation and a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Foundation’s Fund for Research in Psychiatry.

Konner is the author, co-author or editor of numerous books, including “The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit,” “Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy,” “Why the Reckless Survive, And Other Secrets of Human Nature” and “The Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind.”

In addition to these academic publications, his work has frequently appeared in public outlets. He has been a regular contributor to the “Mind and Matter” column of The Wall Street Journal Weekend Review, The New York Times op-ed page, the “Body and Mind” column of The New York Times Magazine, and the column “On Human Nature” for The Sciences. He has written for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The American Prospect, M.D., Psychology Today, Omni, Ms. and other publications. His scientific writings have appeared in Science, Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, Child Development, Human Nature and other journals.

For more information, contact the Furman News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

About the Charles H. Townes Lecture Series on Faith and Reason

The Charles H. Townes Lecture Series on Faith and Reason has been funded through gifts from the John Templeton Foundation and the late Nobel Laureate Charles H. Townes (1915-2015), a 1935 graduate of Furman. Townes held the rank of University Professor of Physics in the graduate school of the University of California-Berkeley and was a member of the Furman Board of Trustees.

A Greenville native, Townes was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1964 for his contributions to the development of the maser and laser. In 2005, he was awarded the Templeton Prize for his efforts to build bridges between science and religion. According to the Templeton website, Townes’ “seminal 1996 article, ‘The Convergence of Science and Religion,’ established him as a unique voice—among scientists, in particular—seeking commonality between the two disciplines.”

This lecture series named in his honor seeks to continue Townes’ spirit of inquiry and dialogue by inviting discussion of significant human questions that are addressed by both faith and reason.

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