Life    The Universe    Belief
Darwin Week in Charleston
February 4-14
Everyone is invited to attend our 16th annual Celebration of Darwin Week! Admission to all events is free. But arrive early – seats fill-up fast!.


A Comedian and a Paleontologist Walk Into a Bar
Thursday, February 4, 8:00 PM
Mr. Chris Duffy and Dr. Philip Manning

Darwin Week presents a hilarious and engaging hour of conversation and audience games with Mr. Chris Duffy and Dr. Phillip Manning. You'll learn, you'll laugh, you'll even have the opportunity to win some prizes! We'll explore the history of evolution, what dinosaurs and birds have in common, and Jurassic CSI.


Chris Duffy is the host of public radio's You're the Expert, where three comedians try to guess what a leading scientist studies all day. Chris is a nationally touring comedian whose shows have been featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and PBS NOVA. Chris is both a former fifth grade teacher and a former fifth grade student. Dr. Phil Manning is a Professor of Paleontology in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences at the College of Charleston, Professor of Natural History at the University of Manchester (UK), and Fellow of the Explorer’s Club. He has written and presented many National Geographic documentaries, including Jurassic CSI, Dino Autopsy, and Dino Death Match.


Where’d You Get Those Peepers?
How Eyes and Other Complex Organs Evolve
Monday, February 8 at 4:00 PM
CofC School of Sciences and Math Auditorium
Dr. T. Ryan Gregory

A century and a half ago, the origin of complex organs such as the human eye seemed explicable only in terms of supernatural design. Darwin provided the basic framework for a scientific answer to the question in The Origin of Species, but he nonetheless admitted that thinking about the eye gave him a "cold shudder." Dr. Gregory will review the wealth of new information that has arisen since Darwin first addressed the problem -- including insights from genetics, molecular biology, comparative anatomy, developmental biology, and evolutionary theory. Sponsored by the CofC Department of Biology.

Reception to follow.
Sponsored by the CofC Program in Environmental Studies.

Dr. T. Ryan Gregory is an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph in Canada where he specializes in genome evolution. His B.Sc. is from McMaster University and his Ph.D. is from Guelph. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach.


The Origin of The Controversy:
Revisiting the Battlefields of Science and Religion
Monday, February 8 at 7:00 PM
Gage Hall
Dr. Ronald L. Numbers

In the early nineteenth century, the harmony between science and religion was so pervasive that one contemporary dubbed it “The Age of Christian Science.” The second third of the century, however, witnessed challenges to traditional Christian beliefs from astronomy, geology, anthropology, phrenology, and, most threatening of all, from biology. During these years religious leaders commonly portrayed themselves as the victims of scientific aggression. During the last third of the century such complaints were largely drowned out by the shouts of men such as Huxley, Tyndall, Draper, and White, who charged religion with being the historical aggressor against science. In the 1920s, fundamentalist Christians in the United States finally struck back, launching a crusade to eradicate evolution from the churches and schools throughout the land. Sponsored by the Presbyterian Association on Science, Technology, and the Christian Faith.

Reception to follow.
Sponsored by the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry.

Dr. Ronald L. Numbers is Hilldale Professor of History emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. He has authored or edited 27 books, including The Creationists (Harvard 2006) and Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Harvard 2009). He is currently editing the eight-volume Cambridge History of Science.


The Antievolutionists:
From the Scopes Trial to Intelligent Design
Tuesday, February 9 at 4:30 PM
CofC School of Sciences and Math Auditorium
Dr. Ronald L. Numbers

Even in the 1920s, the Christian fundamentalists associated with William Jennings Bryan’s crusade to eradicate Darwinism from the schools and churches of America readily accepted the paleontological evidence for the antiquity of life on earth. It was not until the coming of “scientific creationism” in the 1960s and 1970s that large numbers of antievolutionists began insisting on the recent appearance of life and assigning most of the geological column to the year of Noah’s flood. During more recent decades a new, nonbiblical, form of opposition to evolution has arisen under the banner of “intelligent design,” which seeks to “reclaim science in the name of God” and to change the very rules governing the practice of science.

Reception to follow.
Sponsored by the CofC Departments of History and Religious Studies.

See above for a brief biography of the speaker.


(Almost) 100 Years of Testing General Relativity with Astronomy
Wednesday, February 10 at 4:00 PM
CofC School of Sciences and Math Auditorium
Dr. Chris Fragile

deflection of lightLast year we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the publication of Albert Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. As one of the pillars of modern physics, this theory has had profound impacts on the development of science and technology over its first century, most grandly in the realms of astronomy and cosmology. Dr. Fragile will describe the quest that astronomers have been on to confirm the myriad bizarre predictions of General Relativity, some even predating the formal publication of Einstein’s theory. To date, the theory has withstood all of these tests, yet the quest goes on.

Reception to follow.
Sponsored by the CofC Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Dr. Chris Fragile received a B.S. degree in Physics from Duke University and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame. He spent 4 years as a Postdoctoral Researcher in California, before accepting a faculty position in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the College of Charleston. He has over 50 refereed publications and has been awarded numerous grants for his work, primarily in computational astrophysics.


Is the Emergence of Consciousness an Inevitable Consequence of Evolution?
Wednesday, February 10 at 6:00 PM
Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Psychiatry Auditorium, Institute of Psychiatry, 67 President Street
Dr. Mark S. George

The mind-brain problem and the question of the neural basis of consciousness are some of modern science’s hardest questions. To say that an organism has conscious experience implies self-awareness. Dr. George will argue that even a crude conceptualization of an ‘I’ or ‘me’ would confer large evolutionary advantage for memory and planning. Darwinian principles, applied to the brain, suggest that life on earth has likely and perhaps inevitably evolved to create creatures like us, humans, who are conscious.

Mark S. George, M.D. is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Radiology and Neuroscience and holds the Layton McCurdy Endowed Chair at MUSC. He directs the Brain Stimulation Laboratory. In 2009 US News and World Report named him one of 14 ‘medical pioneers who are not holding back’. He has published over 400 scientific articles or book chapters, and has written or edited 6 books. He also keeps bees, and wonders if the hive has consciousness, and how we would ever know.


Darwin’s Warm Little Pond:
Searching for the Chemical Origins of Life
Thursday, February 11 at 4:30 PM
CofC School of Sciences and Math Auditorium
Dr. Nicholas Hud

Charles Darwin once speculated that biological molecules might spontaneously form in a “warm little pond,” but then stated that it was “mere rubbish” to think about the origin of life during his time. 150 year later, tremendous advances in biology and chemistry have now made it possible to explore, using model reactions and genomic data, the chemical origins and early evolution of life. This combination of so-called bottom up (i.e., chemical) and top down (i.e., biological) approaches to uncovering the origins of life are now creating a draft of the “missing first chapter” of Darwin’s book On the Origins of Species.

Birthday Party for Charles Darwin to follow.
Sponsored by the Charleston Chapter of Sigma Xi.

Nicholas Hud is Professor of Chemistry at Georgia Tech and Director of the NSF-NASA Center for Chemical Evolution. He received his B.S. from Loyola Marymount University and his Ph.D. from UC Davis, with postdoctoral research at UCLA. He has studied the physical properties of DNA and RNA for over twenty-five years. His current research is focused on questions related to the origins and early evolution of biopolymers.


Darwin’s Warm Little Pond:
Searching for the Chemical Origins of Life
Thursday, February 11 at 7:00 PM
117 Grimsley Hall, The Citadel
Dr. Nicholas Hud

See above for the abstract and a brief biography of the speaker.

Reception preceding in Room 204.
Sponsored by the Charleston Chapter of Sigma Xi.


Odd Sexuality, Sexual Selection & Speciation:
Protandric Simultaneous Hermaphroditism and its Effect on Diversification in Shrimp
Friday, February 12 at 4:00 PM
Marine Resources Auditorium, Fort Johnson
Dr. Antonio Baeza

Organisms that display protandric simultaneous hermaphroditism mature first as males, and subsequently add female function. Dr. Baeza will explore the evolutionary consequences of this unusual sexual system using marine “peppermint” and “cleaner” shrimps. His evidence suggesting male-male competition for sexual partners in these shrimp is among the first adduced for any hermaphroditic population.

Refreshments preceding, reception to follow at the MUSC White House.
Programmed in conjunction with the Fort Johnson Marine Science Seminar Series.
Co-sponsored by the CofC Masters Program in Environmental Studies.

Dr. Antonio Baeza is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Clemson University, and Research Associate at the Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce.


Craters, Cataclysms, and the Origins of Life
Friday, February 12 at 4:30 PM
Holy City Brewery, 4155 Dorchester Road
With Dr. Cass Runyon, Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences
Cyndi Hall, Lowcountry Hall of Science and Math, and
Shelby Bowden, CofC Geology Club

Primordial Soup graphic

A talk and discussion — a series of games, trivia, and discussion-based questions focusing on theories regarding the origin of the universe, our solar system and life on Earth.

At a brewery!


A Religious Naturalist Goes to
the State Board of Education
Sunday, February 14
Two services – 8:30 and 11:00 AM
Circular Congregational Church
150 Meeting Street
Rev. Dr. Jeremy Rutledge

Circular Congregational ChurchThoughtful religion and science have never been at odds. Each embarks on a search for truth and meaning through careful observation and method. Ritual, discipline, and poetry infuse the naturalist’s lab and the pastor’s study; reverence, wonder, and awe their common language. Don’t believe those who say otherwise.

Join Rev. Rutledge as we consider how complimentary religion and science really are and how we might make the case more broadly and beautifully

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.