In Philadelphia, Conklin participated in many events, discussing the intersection of evolution and religion. For example, he worked with Liberty Hyde Bailey to organize a meeting in 1896 on “Factors of Organic Evolution” for the American Philosophical Society, and became an active member of that organization the next year. In 1909, he spoke at a commemoration of Darwin’s death on “The World’s Debt to Darwin.”
Many biologists spoke about the importance of evolution, of course. Conklin had impact in a wider audience because he also spoke persuasively about his equal commitment to being a Methodist. It is possible to embrace both science and religion, he insisted. His sociability and rhetorical talent helped him reach audiences that other biologists did not. Some have argued that his interest in religion also influenced Conkin’s acceptance of a type of eugenics, with its hopes of improving human populations through informed breeding.