Annual Darwin Day hosts renowned British scientist

Taylor Carr|Staff Photographer Neil Lax and members of the Duquesne Biology Club sell t-shirts at the Bayer School’s annual Darwin Day. British professor, Nick Lane, was the featured speaker.

Taylor Carr|Staff Photographer
Neil Lax and members of the Duquesne Biology Club sell t-shirts at the Bayer School’s annual Darwin Day. British professor, Nick Lane, was the featured speaker.

Liza Zulick | Staff Writer

Duquesne University celebrated the fifteenth annual celebration of Darwin Day, to discuss the scientific events that have come from Darwin’s original theory.

On Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Power Center Ballroom, Duquesne students and faculty gathered to hear a presentation on “Why is Life the Way it is?” This year, the guest speaker was Nick Lane, professor of evolutionary biochemistry at the University College London.

“Celebrating Darwin Day is a way for Duquesne University to demonstrate how faith and science are compatible,” said John Stolz, professor of biological sciences at Duquesne.

Over the years, Duquesne has touched on different topics relating to Darwin’s evolution theory including sex and the scala naturae and mass extinctions and human genetic diversity, according to the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Science website.

Nick Lane’s presentation focused on his book, “The Vital Question: Why is Life the Way It Is?” Throughout his presentation, he demonstrated common traits that all matter of life have, or that their ancestors had at one time.

“It is a rather peculiar trajectory that life has taken over the last four billion years,” Lane said.

At the end of his presentation, Lane explained that one common trait every living organism has is that all eukaryotic cells are currently sexual beings, and those cells that are asexual have ancestors who were once sexual. Lane’s point was that all cells are constantly changing and scientists are continuing to discover new things everyday, supporting Darwin’s original theory of evolution.

“Science to me is very similar to natural selection … the survivors are not random. It is all built generation by generation,” Lane said.

Duquesne University is Catholic, yet the teaching of evolution doesn’t conflict with the religious identity. Pope Pius XII made a statement in support of evolution theory in 1950.

“Catholics take no issue with the Big Bang theory, along with cosmological, geological, and biological axioms touted by science,” Pope Pius XII said.

It was not until 91 years after Charles Darwin published his book, “On the Origin of Species” in 1859, that the Vatican and Pope Pius XII accepted his theory.

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