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Eastern Gives Darwin More Than One Day

Feb-03-2014

Eastern Illinois University is saying “Happy Birthday” to Charles Darwin with a series of events to honor his work in the field of science.

According to Stephen Mullin, professor of biological sciences, evolution is a key element of science and every year on Feb. 12, people around the world celebrate the life and work of Darwin, an evolutionary biologist. This year marks the 205th anniversary of his birth.

There are currently more than 100 events scheduled in more than 20 different countries for Darwin Day 2014.

For more than a decade, Eastern has planned a variety of programs, to take place locally over several days, to explore evolution and science as it relates to Darwin’s theories.

“We have one of the largest programs, as far as the number of events organized for each year, in the country,” Mullin said.

When Eastern’s Department of Biological Sciences first decided to organize events in recognition of Darwin’s birthday, those in charge agreed that many events covering the topic would be more helpful in differentiating faith from science.

“Professors encounter less resistance to the teaching of evolution now,” Mullin said.

Although the more recent cohorts of students are more accepting of Darwin’s theory, having a number of events for people to attend and learn from is always helpful, he added.

This year’s events will revisit the fundamentals of science and distinguish science from pseudoscience. This is comparable to the difference in astronomy, the study of celestial objects, from astrology, the study of star signs.

“There is a lack of understanding of what science really is,” Mullin said.

This year’s events in commemoration of Darwin’s birthday will be more interactive and exciting than ones in the past, with audience members encouraged at ask questions.

Admission to all events is free and open to the public.

The four-day program includes:
• “What is God?” -- a NOVA film; 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, Life Sciences Building, Room 2080
• “Pseudoscience: What is it and why should we care?” -- a lecture by Brian Montgomery, EIU; 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, Buzzard Auditorium (Room 1501)
• “What is Science?” -- a lecture by Lewis Branscomb, University of California at San Diego; 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, Coleman Hall Auditorium (Room 1255)
• “Acceptance of Evolutionary Science Within Religion” -- interactive round-table discussion with religious leaders of various faiths; 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, Coleman Hall Auditorium (Room 1255)

For more information, check out Eastern’s biological sciences website. For more about Darwin Days, check out darwinday.org.