LEXINGTON, Ky.—Today at 4 p.m. Transylvania University is marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of biologist Charles Darwin with a campus-wide celebration, including a birthday cake and a group discussion. Biology professor and Darwin scholar James Wagner made the cake in the shape of a tortoise to focus attention on the eco-systems of the Galapagos Islands, where Darwin did much of his work. The discussion, led by Wagner and fellow biology professors Belinda Sly and Sarah Bray, will address public misconception of the theory of evolution by critiquing elements of Ben Stein’s controversial 2008 documentary Expelled. The celebration will take place in Strickland Auditorium of the Brown Science Center and is sponsored by the Biology Club.
In addition to the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth (February 12, 1809), 2009 marks the sesquicentennial of the publication of his most recognized work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (November 24, 1859) of which Transylvania has a rare first edition copy.
Although Darwin is often associated with only this book, he was in fact a very prolific writer, authoring over 22 books covering a variety of biological topics. Many are represented with first edition copies in Transylvania’s Special Collections’ Thomas Collection, a rare and diverse collection of writings by one of the nineteenth century’s innovative and original thinkers.