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Darwin Day Explores History of Teaching Evolution in Public Schools

Nearly 150 years after the publication of the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection remain controversial topics in American public schools, as well as in U.S. courts.

This year’s Duquesne University Darwin Day event, Evolution and the Law, will examine the history of teaching evolution in public schools and look at why it so often ends up in American courts. Hosted by the Department of Biological Sciences in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, the event will be held on Friday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. in the Power Center Ballroom.

Public lectures on evolution and the social and legal implications of creationism will be given by guest speakers, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dr. Edward Larson and federal Judge John Jones III, who decided the December 2005 Dover case outlawing the teaching of creationism in public schools.

Larson, a Pepperdine University professor, will present From Dayton to Dover: A Brief History of the Evolution Teaching Controversy. Hewill review the teaching of evolution in public schools in historical context by tracing the development of legal efforts to restrict evolutionary teaching beginning with the 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial” through the legislative drive for balanced treatment for creationism, and finally to the current push for intelligent design in the classroom. Larson won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in history for his book, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion.

Jones, a judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, will revisit the Dover case in his lecture, Our Intelligently Design Constitution: Reflections on Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Two Years Later. Jones will discuss the important legal issues the case raised, including the rule of law, judicial independence, legal precedent, and the structure of the U.S. Constitution. In the Dover case, Jones found “intelligent design” creationism to be a religious idea unsuited for teaching in the public high school science classroom.

Evolution and the Law is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For more information, including Act 48 Credit details and to register, visit www.duq.edu/darwinday or call 412.396.6332.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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