Darwin Day provides perspectives

February 18, 2009

by Eboni Jaggers

Two hundred years after the birth of one of the world’s greatest scientists, theories of evolution and creation are still debated upon.

“Darwin and Beyond: A Darwin Day Symposium” was held Feb. 12 in Wyly Auditorium to mark the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and consisted of a series of lectures on Darwin-related topics.

The event was sponsored by Tech’s physics and biology departments in conjunction with the Freethought Society, a campus organization that reflects upon the ideals and concepts of religion, politics and general philosophy.

Hollin Vicedomini, president of the Freethought Society and a junior math major, said she began the group in March 2008 when she recognized the need for an on-campus organization where students with agnostic and atheist beliefs could come and discuss topics like religion without being scrutinized.

She said she thought the Darwin Day event was a great way to spread science education in Louisiana in line with the addition of the Louisiana Science Education Act.

She said the act is a “self-creationist” bill that allows teachers leeway in the types of teaching materials they are allowed to use in public school classrooms across the state.

Vicedomini said she thought bringing Darwin Day to Tech was an excellent idea.

“Over 600 events in 44 countries were being held,” she said. “The celebration is something people were taking part in all over the world. It is really an international thing, [and] I thought it would be a great thing for Tech to participate in.”

She said Darwin Day was initially going to be hosted exclusively by the Freethought Society but then received word the biology and physics departments also had Darwin Day plans in the works.

Richard Hutchinson, an associate professor of sociology, said he was very satisfied with the size of the crowd.

“I am quite happy with the way everything turned out,” he said. “Attendance was good, [and] we had a great variety of talks. Students asked some really thought-provoking questions.”

Cody Smith, a sophomore psychology major, said he found the symposium very informative and insightful.

“[The event] was very thought provoking,” he said. “Change affects everyone including [the] human social intervention to the universe as a whole,” he said.

Smith said the event has given him new ideas about the universe and each of its components.

“Everything changes,” he said.
“Every science, concept and theory [varies], and it’s up to us to learn to adapt.”