MSU celebrates Darwin's 200th


As February began, MSU kicked off a month long 200th birthday party for famed biologist Charles Darwin.

The university will host events throughout the month to commemorate Darwin’s work involving evolution.

“He’s the father of modern biology,” said Danita Brandt, associate professor of geological sciences and co-chairwoman of the museum’s Darwin Discovery Day. “Nothing in biology makes sense without evolution.”

Brandt said Darwin Discovery Day, now in its fifth year, will be held on Sunday and strives to educate the community on the teachings of Darwin.

In addition to Darwin Discovery Day, a number of events will be held throughout campus this month.

Lectures from MSU professors and graduate students will be presented on topics ranging from Darwin’s ethics to the combination of God and evolution.

Headlining films also are on the list of events for the university’s ode to Darwin. Documentaries from NOVA, a Public Broadcasting Service television series about the intelligent design debate, and the Hollywood blockbuster “Jurassic Park” will be shown for the public.

“Darwin needs to be discussed big,” said Robert Shelton, associate professor of history, philosophy and sociology of science in Lyman Briggs College.

Lyman Briggs College will be holding its own events to celebrate Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday.

On Feb. 11, the school will hold a Charles Darwin panel discussion. There also will be a book discussion on Darwin’s “Origins of Species” for Lyman Briggs College professors and students.

“Darwin came up with answers that were controversial in 1859, and they’re controversial today,” Shelton said.

That controversy is reflected in the opinions of many groups and individuals who support creationism, the belief that humans were created by a higher being.

“We think they (supporters of evolution) are in error,” said Wayne VanCamp, overseer for the Jehovah’s Witnesses East Lansing Congregation, 2231 M-78.

“The theory of evolution is just that, it’s a theory. The bible answers the questions of where life comes from. The theory of evolution, as far as we are concerned, is basically an attempt to ignore the facts.”

VanCamp’s church advocates the belief that the Jehovah God created everything in the universe.

“To us, the theory of evolution is just an attempt to ignore the teachings of God,” he said.

Brandt said the harsh outlook creationists have toward evolution is due to misunderstanding Darwin’s theory.

“When people don’t understand a subject, they fill in the blanks with their own experiences and beliefs, and that gets in the way of education,” she said.

Despite the concern and controversy from religious believers and the scientific community, Dana Rosenblum, a hospitality business graduate student, believes people should pay attention to both arguments.

“It’s a good thing to promote both sides,” she said.

A complete list of events planned on campus for Darwin’s bicentennial celebration can be found online at

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