Evolution and Human Nature


An exhibit on the current understanding of biological evolution. PRESENTATION: Saturday, January 17, 5:00 pm.

GUIDED TOURS: Friday: 8:30 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am; 12 noon; 2:00 pm; 6:00 pm; 7:30 pm;
Sunday: 10:30 am; 12 noon; 1:30 pm; 3:00 pm; 4:30 pm; 6:30 pm; 8:00 pm

It is well-established that biological evolution, involving random genetic variations and natural selection, is a driving force in the development of life on Earth. The central idea is that all living species on Earth share a common ancestor, just as you and your cousins share a common grandmother. However, new data being generated by various scientific fields such as paleontology, genetics, geology, and molecular biology suggest that the evolutionary process is far more complex than  previously thought.

The questions surrounding evolution become extremely intriguing when posed in relation to the evolutionary path of human beings. 

Indeed, on the one hand, human beings are aware of their natural connection to the animal world, yet they realize at the same time that they are unique and occupy a privileged position with respect to the rest of the natural world. Human beings are the subject of a specific phenomenology which belongs to them only, and whose origin raises crucial questions when considered in the contexts of their habitat, of the entire development of life on planet Earth, and of the larger physical universe.

The main focus of the exhibit is the development of human beings. Through a fascinating journey, our goal is to clarify and identify which evolutionary mechanisms are scientifically well-established and which questions are still open. 

Starting from a scientific point of view, the exhibit aims at highlighting and describing some of the main mechanisms of biological evolution and at identifying the factors behind the uniqueness of human beings, while addressing the following questions: how does biological evolution work? Does evolutionary theory need to be re-thought? What are the features that define human beings? Does evolution explain human nature?