Birds have long played a special role in literature, myth, and religion, suggesting as they do a special connection between the terrestrial world and the heavens above. Shakespeare's plays and poems are especially rich in bird imagery, with owls, ravens, eagles, sparrows, and even the mythical phoenix appearing in some of his most memorable lines. But however much we may think we "know a hawk from a handsaw" the way Hamlet does, Shakespeare's understanding of birds as well as nature in general was very different from ours today. This talk will explore what we can learn from Shakespeare's view of birds.
Discussion concerning the question of intelligent design is a recent example of the fraught relationship between science and religion. Such charged exchanges have been with us since the beginning of modern science, however, when Renaissance thinkers such as Copernicus and Galileo introduced ways of seeing the world that challenged the theology of their times. Is science a threat to religion? This talk will examine how some of the greatest literature of the Renaissance responded to this question, and how these responses might give us some perspective on science and religion today.