YSU Brings Creationism and Evolution Debate to Youngstown

Amidst the contentious creationism versus evolution debate discovering a second wind in America mass media, Youngstown State University has brought Michael Ruse, an expert in the philosophy of biology, to present the “Evolution vs. Creationism” lecture.

Michael Ruse, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Bristol in England, began the peer-reviewed academic journal “Biology and Philosophy” and has received honorary degrees from three universities in Canada and Norway.

Bruce Waller, chair of the philosophy and religious studies department, said the university invited Ruse — in part due to his impressive credentials — and allowed him to pick the topic of discussion.

“We really invited him, and he selected a topic that he thought would be appropriate for the audience,” Waller said. “He has been editor of one of the major journals on the philosophy of biology; he has written a number of books on evolution and philosophy of biology; he holds a chair at Florida State [University].”

Ruse, in the past, has attempted to look at the root causes of the debate over creationism and evolution as much as the debate itself.

“In my book, I trace the present conflict between evolutionists and creationists back to the Enlightenment. I argue that at the beginning of the 18th century, there was something of a crisis of faith — could it be that God does not exist?” Ruse said in an email interview with American Scientist, the bi-monthly science and technology magazine. “Both sides were obsessed about the future — the faith types about what God expects of us and what he promises (heaven or hell), the reason types with how much better we humans can make society and knowledge and so forth.”

Waller said the lecture is part of the enduring Dr. Thomas and Albert Shipka Speakers Series, a philosophy department fund that is expended to bring experts to the university.

“The Shipka’s speakers fund is funded through contributions through the philosophy circle,” Waller said “There is a committee in the department that selects speakers.”

Tom Shipka, the former chair of the philosophy and religious studies department and current member of the committee that chooses speakers, said the series was created in his and his father’s name.

“I worked on the faculty at YSU from 1969 to 2006 full-time, and the last twenty years I was chair of philosophy and religious studies. The Shipka Speaker Series was created in honor of my father, who was a member of the YSU Board of Trustees in the 70s, and myself,” Shipka said.

The lecture will take place at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday in Kilcawley Center’s Chestnut Room. It will be free and open to the public.