College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Professor Simon Conway Morris FRS

Professor Simon Conway Morris's Gifford lecture series 'Darwin's Compass: How Evolution Discovers the Song of Creation' explores the seeming direction of evolution and the emergence of intelligence, and ponders whether mind might have existed before matter

Professor Simon Conway


Simon Conway Morris FRS, holds an ad hominem chair in Evolutionary Palaeobiology in the University of Cambridge. He will deliver a Series of Gifford Lectures in the University of Edinburgh in 2006 - 2007.

Event details

Lecture Series Theme: Darwin 's Compass: How Evolution Discovers the Song of Creation

Dates: 19, 20, 22, 26, 27 February, 1 March 2007, 5.15pm

Venue: Playfair Library, Old College, South Bridge

Lecture 1: Life’s Solution: The Predictability of Evolution across the Galaxy (and Beyond)

As often as not when evolution is mentioned so too is randomness, be it the role of genetic mutation or a mass extinction triggered by a rogue bolide.

Lecture 2: Eyes to See, Brains to Think: The Inevitable Evolution of Intelligence

The striking similarity of the camera eye in the octopus and human (and other vertebrates) is perhaps the classic example of evolutionary convergence.

Lecture 3: Meeting the Aliens: Galactic Hide and Seek

If evolution is predictable in its outcomes on this planet then like any other science the results should apply universally.

Lecture 4: Becoming Human: The Continuing Mystery

Animals may navigate by the stars or use the Earth’s magnetic field, but only humans wish to map the celestial heavens or probe the atomic structure of magnetism.

Lecture 5: The Evolution of Consciousness: A Window on to Invisible Worlds?

The regularities of the physical world, be they the Euclidean geometry of three dimensional space or the three degrees of freedom shown by terrestrial illumination, strongly indicate (as Roger Shepard has shown) that there must be universal principles of mind.

Lecture 6: Towards an Eschatology of Evolution

Evolutionary convergence strongly suggests that evolution has inherent directionalities, and by implication end-points.