Monday, February 09, 2009

Darwin Week at BYU

With Charles Darwin's 200th birthday later this week, ongoing tensions at BYU may resurface. Beginning in the early 20th century when a majority of students protested the firing of two professors who refused to stop teaching evolution, tensions have continued up to the present. That tension is most noted between members of the religion and biology departments.

For example, religion department faculty member Joseph Fielding McConkie has stated: "Is the theory of evolution compatible with the doctrine of the Fall? Answer: No. We can tug, twist, contort, and sell our birthright, but we cannot overcome the irreconcilable differences between the theory of organic evolution and the doctrine of the Fall" The BYU Biology department, on the other hand, is a leading research institution in genetic evolution and has received more government grants on the topic than any other university. BYU biology professor Duane Jeffery has championed the idea that the church has no official position on the topic and that evolution is not incompatible with the gospel.

Amidst this tension, members of both deparments will deliver lectures on the topic this week as reported by the Deseret News:
  • Monday, Feb. 9, BYU biologists Keith Crandall, Byron Adams and Jerry Johnson will present "How Darwin's Big Idea Has Improved the Human Condition: Three Vignettes for Discussion" at 6 p.m. in Room 455 of the Thomas L. Martin Building. They will discuss evolution in modern medicine, forensics and behavior.
  • On Tuesday, Feb. 10, Daniel Fairbanks, professor and head of the Department of Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, will present "The Many Faces of Charles Darwin" at noon in Room 321 of the Karl G. Maeser Building Auditorium.
  • On Wednesday, Feb. 11, BYU Dean of Religious Education Terry Ball will present "An Approach to Understanding the Creation" at 3 p.m. in Room 455 of the Martin Building. At 7 p.m., BYU biologist Riley Nelson will discuss "On Knowing: The Times and Seasons of Joseph Smith, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin" in the same room.
  • On Thursday, Feb. 12, BYU biologist Michael Whiting will present "The Legacy of Charles Darwin: Seeking Grandeur in the View of Life" at 7 p.m. in Room 3220 of the Wilkinson Student Center. Birthday cake will be served following the lecture.
  • Also Thursday, Feb. 12, Scott Ritter, chair of BYU's Department of Geological Sciences, will present "The Evolution of Charles Darwin: A Bicentennial Celebration" at 7 p.m. in Room 377 of the Clyde Building. The lecture will be preceded by a reception at 6:30 p.m.
  • On Friday, Feb. 13, "Darwin and the Human Fossil Record" will be presented by Duane Jeffery, professor emeritus from BYU's Department of Biology, at 3 p.m. in Room 445 of the Martin Building.

For more information, call 801-422-4502.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Thanks for pointing me to the Darwin Week at BYU. As an alumni, I took some interest in this event and posted my comments at Charles Darwin.