The Aquinas Institute for Catholic Thought is Excited to announce our 12th Annual Great Debate!



Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?

The 12th annual Great Debate sponsored by the Aquinas Institute for Catholic Thought (AICT) will be held on Friday, February 8, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. on the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder in Chemistry 140. Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, of Providence College, will debate Dr. Carol Cleland of the University of Colorado over the intersection of religious faith and science. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are free for all CU students and a suggested $5 donation for all others. Tickets will be available online for non-student tickets only (a small processing fee applies for online sales). Mark your calendars as tickets are expected to go quickly! For more info, please contact the Catholic Center at 303- 443-8383, or email Dr. Scott Powell:

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Tickets are FREE FOR CU STUDENTS and can be picked up anytime at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center (1520 Euclid Ave, Boulder). For everyone else, tickets a suggested $5.00 donation and can be acquired at the Catholic Center or online at:

Please join us for a reception immediately following the debate at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Student Center (1520 Euclid Ave).

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Debater Biographies:


Fr. Nicanor Austriaco

Providence College

Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P. (PhD, MIT) currently serves as an Associate Professor of Biology and of Theology at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island. He received his Ph.D. in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and his Doctorate in Moral Theology (S.T.D.) from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. 

Originally from the Philippines, Father Austriaco’s NIH-funded laboratory at Providence College ( is investigating the genetics of programmed cell death using the yeasts, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans, as model organisms. His first book, Biomedicine and Beatitude: An Introduction to Catholic Bioethics, was published by the Catholic University of America Press. It was recognized as a 2012 Choice outstanding academic title by the Association of College and Research Libraries.

His areas of expertise include. the biology of cancer, aging, and programmed cell death, health care ethics and bioethics in the Catholic tradition, and philosophical and theological implications of modern evolutionary theory.

Fr. Austriaco’s faculty page and C.V.:


Dr. Carol Cleland

University of Colorado, Boulder

Dr. Carol Cleland (PhD, Brown, 1981) arrived at CU Boulder in 1986, after having spent a year on a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information. She is affiliated with the NASA Institute for Astrobiology (NAI) and a member of CU’s Center for Astrobiology. She is the director of the Center for Study of Origins.

Her areas of interest include the Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Logic, and Metaphysics. Her areas of special interest include: scientific methodology (historical natural science and experimental natural science), scientific theories and the use of models (especially in the historical sciences), philosophy of biology (microbiology, astrobiology, nature of life, and the hypothesis of a ‘shadow biosphere’, a term which she coined), causation, space and time, supervenience, events, Church-Turing thesis and effective procedures.

Dr. Cleland is currently working on several manuscripts on the nature and origin of life, including a book, The Quest for a Universal Theory of Life: Searching for life as we don’t know it, which is under contract with Cambridge University Press. The latter follows an anthology, The Nature of Life: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives from Philosophy and Science, co-edited with Mark Bedau and already in print (Cambridge University Press, 2010). Continues to work on issues concerning the methodology and justification of the historical natural sciences. Currently exploring the use of models, especially computer simulations, in the practices of historical natural scientists, including planetary science. Is thinking of expanding her research to include the non-historical field sciences.

Dr. Cleland’s faculty page and C.V.: