NOTE: This is an archival page.
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Don’t Miss — Piccolo Darwin Week

2014 Event Venues

The School of Science and Math Auditorium,
College of Charleston

Located at the intersection of Coming and Calhoun Streets, across from the College Library. The NSCB (New Science Center Building) Auditorium is Room 129.

Grimsley Hall, The Citadel
The Citadel’s Grimsley Hall is located at the north end of Summerall Field, on Jenkins Avenue.

Maps of the CofC Campus, and The Citadel are available online.

Congregational Church

Circular Congregational Church is located at 150 Meeting Street.

The Church of the Holy Communion
The Church of the Holy Communion is located at 218 Ashley Avenue.

Darwin Week In Charleston, Since 2001

2001 Darwin Week

2002 Darwin Week

2003 Darwin Week

2004 Darwin Week

2005 Darwin Week

2006 Darwin Week

2007 Darwin Week

2008 Darwin Week

2009 Darwin Week

2010 Darwin Week

2011 Darwin Week

2012 Darwin Week

2013 Darwin Week

Living Religiously as a Naturalist

Sunday, February 9 at 11:00 a.m.
Rev. Dr. Jeremy Rutledge

Circular Congregational Church (150 Meeting St) is a progressive Christian congregation that embraces the natural and social sciences as partners in the search for truth and meaning.  Rev. Rutledge’s sermon will consider religion from the point of view of a naturalist, finding reverence, wonder, and awe close at hand.  Drawing on Darwin’s insights and the diversity of our Lowcountry home, perhaps we might find our way to a deeper humanity through connection with the myriad forms of life.

The Rev. Dr. Jeremy Rutledge is senior minister at Circular Congregational Church (UCC) downtown.  He studied at Baylor University, the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, and Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, where his doctoral work focused on religious naturalism.  Rev. Rutledge is a longtime member of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science.  Before coming to Charleston, he was senior minister at Covenant Church in Houston for ten years.

Search for Other Worlds

Monday, February 10 at 4:00 p.m.
CofC School of Sciences and Math Auditorium
Dr. Joe Carson

How common is life in the universe?  How many foreign worlds exist that could support life?  In the last decade, astronomers have discovered foreign planets in large enough number, and in great enough variety, that scientists can now make meaningful statements on the frequency of foreign planets that could support life.  Dr. Carson reviews the current knowledge of such planet populations, as well as the history of such searches.  He also discusses future search programs, expected in the next few decades, that astronomers believe will be able to probe extrasolar planets for signatures of life.
Reception to follow.
   ›› Sponsored by the CofC Department of Physics & Astronomy

Dr. Joe Carson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the College of Charleston.  As a part of several international search teams, he and his research students carry out direct imaging explorations for extrasolar planets.  He led the team that made the recent discovery of the most massive star known to host an extrasolar planet.

“Light will be thrown on the origin...”
What Have We Learned About
Human Evolution Since Darwin?

Tuesday, February 11 at 4:00 p.m.
CofC School of Sciences and Math Auditorium
Dr. Rick Potts

When Darwin died in 1882, very little was known about heredity, Earth’s age, the kinship among species, and the fossil record of humans and most other organisms. Any of these uncertainties could have hurt or demolished his concept of evolution. Yet across the sciences, there is overwhelming evidence of how organisms have changed and adapted to environments, the relatedness of all organisms, and the origin and extinction of species over vast reaches of time. Changes in genes, anatomy, behavior, species diversity, and environments are beautifully illustrated by the study of human evolution. New developments in paleoanthropology concerning how human characteristics accumulated over time and the origin of adaptability continue to magnify our understanding about ourselves as part of the history of life.
Reception to follow.
   ›› Sponsored by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant for science education.

Paleoanthropologist Dr. Rick Potts is the director of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program and curator of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History. He has dedicated his research to piecing together the record of Earth’s environmental change and human adaptation. Rick leads ongoing excavations in the East African Rift Valley at fossil and archeological sites in southern Kenya and on the shores of Lake Victoria. He is curator of The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, and wrote the companion book for the current exhibit "What Does It Mean To Be Human?"

Darwin Fulfilled:
Transitional Fossil Whales from Charleston, South Carolina

Wednesday, February 12 at 1:00 p.m.
CofC School of Sciences and Math Auditorium
Dr. Jonathan Geisler

Darwin built his case for evolution with living species and felt compelled to explain why fossils of transitional species were so rare. What a different case he would make today! Paleontologists have since found a dizzying array of transitional forms, including numerous fossil whales. Although the transition from walking to swimming whales is now well understood, it is still unclear how whales evolved their unique adaptations for breathing, feeding, and hearing underwater. Dr. Geisler will describe exquisitely preserved fossil whales from the Charleston area that help fill these gaps in our knowledge.
Reception to follow.
   ›› Sponsored by the CofC Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences.

Dr. Jonathan Geisler is Associate Professor of Anatomy at the New York Institute of Technology (Old Westbury) and Research Associate at the National Museum of Natural History. He received bachelor’s degrees in geology and biology from the College of Charleston and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is an expert on the evolution of the Cetacea, emphasizing insights obtained by integrating observations from living and fossil species. He has collected and studied fossil whales of the Charleston area for over 15 years.

Presented with the Christian-Jewish Council  —
What Does It Mean To Be Human?
An Interfaith Conversation on Science, Religion and Being Human

Wednesday, February 12 at 7:00 p.m.
Church of the Holy Communion, 218 Ashley Ave.
Moderated by Rev. Dr. James B. Miller

The last hundred years have exhibited an extraordinary increase in our understanding of the natural history of the origin and development of humankind over the past 6 million years.  The three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) have traditionally identified humankind as "made in the image and likeness of God." This interfaith conversation will explore how these religious communities assess our ever increasing scientific understanding of human origins, historical development and ecological impact.
Reception to follow.
    ››Sponsored by the Church of the Holy Communion, the Charleston Atlantic Presbytery (PCUSA), the Christian-Jewish Council of Greater Charleston, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Dr. Rick Potts is Director of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Project (more above).
Rev. Dr. James Sawers is a Ph.D. physicist and retired United Methodist minister.
Rev. Joseph Darby is Presiding Elder of the Beaufort District AME Church.
Rev. Jeffrey F. Kirby, STL, is Moral Theologian for the Diocese of Charleston.
Rabbi Anthony D. Holz is Rabbi Emeritus of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Reformed Synagogue.

Neuroscience and the Spirit:
Has Science Proven the Existence of God?

Thursday, February 13 at 4:00 p.m.
CofC School of Sciences and Math Auditorium
Dr. Paul D. Simmons

The findings that religious impulses are related to chemical activity in the brain has raised the intriguing question as to whether people are hard-wired for belief in God. The issue for religion is whether brain activity is proof of divine activity in human life. Might God be the subject of scientific research after all?  These and other questions will be posed in the light of new breakthroughs in brain imaging.  Dr. Simmons will bring illustrations from science and religion that pose profound questions for an easy reliance on such studies.
Reception to follow.
   ›› Sponsored by the Charleston Chapter of Sigma Xi.

Intelligent Design:
Is This the End of Evolution?

Thursday, February 13th at 6:30 p.m.
117 Grimsley Hall, The Citadel
Dr. Paul D. Simmons

Intelligent Design claims to rival or displace the theory of evolution but Dr. Paul Simmons will argue it is both bad theology and bad science. It has no credible standing as science and appeals to terribly problematic notions such as "irreducible complexity." It also appeals to religious piety as believing the unprovable and improbable.  Simmons will argue that there are major deficits in ID that make it incredible that it would ever be taught in a classroom for science.
Refreshments preceding in Room 204.

Dr. Paul D. Simmons is a Clinical Professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, specializing in medical ethics.  He is also an ordained Baptist Minister, with 25 years of experience serving pulpits throughout the South.  He has served as Acting Dean of the School of Theology and Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.