Internationally Renowned Speaker to Discuss Darwin’s Impact

Michael Ruse—noted speaker, author, and philosopher—will present a Michael Ruse with dodo statuelecture on the impact of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution on Thursday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Ruse, author of Darwinism and Its Discontents, will explore the social impact of the theory of natural selection that Darwin presented in On the Origin of Species, which was published 150 years ago. Ruse will also discuss how thinking has changed since then, and how Darwin’s theories have been further developed by scientists and considered by philosophers over time.

His lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a book signing, with copies of his books available for purchase. The event is presented by Buffalo State and is part of the Buffalo Museum of Science’s Hayes Lecture Series.

A popular and often controversial speaker, Ruse is a philosopher of science whose specialty is the philosophy of biology. He is an expert on Darwin and has spoken all over the world on Darwin and evolution. He is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. Previously, he taught at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, for 35 years.

Although an ardent evolutionist, Ruse is also a bold critic of fellow evolutionists who challenge the validity of religious beliefs, likening the challengers to intemperate religious figures.

“Dr. Ruse believes that religion and science can coexist,” said Amy McMillan, associate professor of biology and an evolutionary biologist. McMillan has been active in the discussion of how science is presented to the general public. In 2006, she was instrumental in bringing to campus the movie Flock of Dodos, in which writer-director Randy Olson portrays scientists as their own worst advocates. She is also a scientific consultant to the Clergy Letter Project, which attempts to demonstrate that religion and science can be compatible. It also provides information to religious leaders who want to encourage scientific literacy among faith communities.

Ruse earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol; his master’s degree at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario; and his doctoral degree at the University of Bristol. In 1986, he was elected a fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Bergen in Norway and McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

Ruse helped to build Florida State’s history and philosophy of science programs and started the journal Biology and Philosophy. He has coauthored and edited many books including Evolution: The First Four Billion Years. Other books by Ruse include The Evolution-Creation Struggle and Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?

Although Ruse is known for fighting against creationism in the science classroom, even appearing on Nightline to debate the subject, his Buffalo State lecture will focus on the impact of Darwin’s theories in modern thought.

“This year is the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth,” said McMillan, “so we wanted to pay attention to him because he developed one of the most influential theories of our time.”