CONFERENCE: Finished Proofs? A Symposium to Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Publication of On the Origin of Species (1859)

From the BSHS:

Finished Proofs? A symposium to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species (1859)

Location: Lister Hill Auditorium, National Library of Medicine (NIH), 8600 Rockville Pike, Bldg. 38A, Bethesda, MD

Date: 1 October 2009, Time: 9:00 AM – 6:15 PM

SPEAKERS: Janet Browne, Harvard University; Eric Green, National Human Genome Research Institute; Michael Ruse, Florida State University; Barry Werth, Independent Author; Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University

COMMENTATORS: Nathaniel Comfort, Johns Hopkins University; Alan E. Guttmacher, National Human Genome Research Institute; Joe Palca, National Public Radio; Maxine Singer, Carnegie Institution for Science

From the conference program [PDF]:

On 1 October 1859 Charles Darwin wrote in his diary “finished proofs.” The proofs he referred to were those of On the Origin of Species, which appeared in print the following month, a landmark in the history of science.

Darwin may have finished the page proofs, but the process of persuading scientists and the public about evolution had just begun. Darwin pieced together evidence for his theory of natural selection from many sources, including studies of domestic breeding, anatomical similarities among species (“homology”), embryology, the sequential order of fossils, and the presence of vestigial organs. But whether this evidence constituted “proof” of evolution was questioned at the time, and it remains unsettled today, in part because of changes in science, in part because of broader cultural and religious concerns about evolution. The “proofs” were far from finished in 1859.

This symposium brings together leading historians, philosophers, and scientists to explore changing understandings of Darwinian theory in the last 150 years. It has two general aims. First, it seeks to trace the different ways in which evolution has been understood in this period, and how these ways of understanding relate to the changing basis of scientific evidence on evolution. Second, it seeks to explain why scientific “proofs” of Darwinian evolution have been unpersuasive to many individuals, including those who promote creationism and intelligent design. Their perspectives on evolution have raised important questions about the nature of the evidence in favor of evolution, and the relationship between proof and belief. Put another way, a focus on Darwin’s critics and supporters can illuminate the many different ways in which “proof” has been understood in the last 150 years.


One thought on “CONFERENCE: Finished Proofs? A Symposium to Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Publication of On the Origin of Species (1859)

  1. Let me say that Evolution theory is brilliant,as far as it goes.That said I feel that given that the theory is some 150 years old it is perhaps time for a re-appraisal of how it relates to the world today. Scientists then were clearly not aware of what is happening with changes in science today at a astonishing rate rate in all fields, particularly genetics. Recently an evolutionary biologist suggested that if Evolution theory were to be replaced, then it would have to be a better working modelThere is an interesting scientific hypothesis, that allows for a logical explanation for the real agenda behind the appearances of the Ufos, over the millennia and especially since 1945, a sensible explanation for the original intent behind all the world religions and a better working scientific model than the theory of evolution.One simply changes the evidence of progressive design ,evidenced by the theory of evolution for the progressive evolution of design, by advanced science – much quicker than nature against a backdrop, of their having been many humanities on this very ancient planet ,which have disappeared for the self-evident reasons we an see today. If this is science fiction then, within the context of this hypothesis, so are the dangers of nuclear war, over-population and environmental degradation and for that matter the subject of Ufos

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