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.