Pepperdine University to Examine the 150th Anniversary of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species

MALIBU, Calif.--()--Across the globe this November noted academic institutions and leading science centers are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. In Southern California, the only in-depth conference on this seminal book will take place at Pepperdine University, a Christian institution whose religious heritage embraces traditional Biblical views of Creation.

Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20 and 21, Pepperdine will stage a two-day conference called Why Darwin Still Matters when celebrated scholars will explore the grip that On the Origin of Species has had on our intellect and imagination. Published Nov. 24, 1859, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species documents his theory of natural selection.

“Scientifically, it is our best theory for why we have such wonderful biological complexity in this world,” explains Chris Doran, assistant professor of religion at Pepperdine’s Seaver College, noting that very few areas of study remain untouched by Darwin’s theory. “Attendees of the conference will hear why Darwin is still important historically, philosophically, and theologically, and why this is still a big deal 150 years later.” Doran also noted, “Most Americans think that the only way science and religion can relate is through conflict or either/or scenarios such as either evolution or creation. We hope to demonstrate another way.”

The conference starts at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 20. Ron Numbers, Coleman and Hilldale Professor of the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, will speak on “Creationism Goes Global” and chart the path of creationism, or “antievolutionism.”

The direct statement “Why Darwin Still Matters” will be addressed by Michael Ruse, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor at Florida State University. His talk is titled “Has Darwinism Passed Its ‘Sell-By’ Date?: Reflections on The Origin of Species at 150 Years.”

Next will be Pulitzer Prize winning author Ed Larson, a Pepperdine University professor and the Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law. The author of “Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion” will explore Darwin and the Victorian Soul.

The film “What a Piece of Work is Man” will follow Larson’s talk and the day will conclude with a roundtable discussion and closing comments by Nancey Murphy, professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary.

The conference will continue at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21 with David Mindell, dean of science and Harry W. and Diana V. Hind Chair at the California Academy of Sciences. His lecture titled “Evolution in the Everyday World” will connect many divergent applications to evolution including agriculture, managing epidemics, and the pursuit of justice.

Also on Saturday, Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, will speak followed by Patricia Gowaty, who will explain how Darwin’s theory plays into reproduction and gender roles.

Professor Larson hopes that students and community members alike will take the time to consider the influence of Darwin on this anniversary. “Most people are largely forgotten soon after they die. Not Darwin,” says Larson. “In books, magazines, movies, and blogs, people throughout the world are still debating Darwin and his theories. As the world recognizes the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, and the 150th anniversary of the book, this conference seeks to address why Darwin still matters.”

For more information or to register, visit www.seaver.pepperdine.edu/darwin.

Contacts

Pepperdine University
Molly Drobnick, 310-506-6586
molly.drobnick@pepperdine.edu

Contacts

Pepperdine University
Molly Drobnick, 310-506-6586
molly.drobnick@pepperdine.edu