UW News

September 27, 2005

Faculty sources on topics in the news: BIOLOGY AND BELIEF

Nearly 150 years since Darwin, debate over evolution and creation continues. Intelligent design has been proposed as an alternative to evolution, despite evolution’s overwhelming support among scientists. The following are among the UW scholars available to discuss aspects of the debate.

David Barash, professor of psychology
(206) 543-8784
An animal behaviorist, Barash recently has focused on the evolutionary factors influencing human behavior, a discipline called evolutionary psychology. His books include “Madam Bovary’s Ovaries: A Darwinian Look at Literature” and the “The Mammal in the Mirror.”

Eliot Brenowitz, professor of biology and psychology
(206) 543-8534
Brenowitz, who studies the evolution of brain and behavior in animals, argued in an August letter to The New York Times that intelligent design, because it cannot be tested like a scientific hypothesis, is not a viable alternative to biological models of evolution.

James Felak, associate professor of history
(206) 543-8291
He teaches the history of Christianity and can discuss the relationship between religion and science, including Galileo and Darwin, debates over evolution and the position of the Catholic Church.

Stewart Jay, professor of law
(206) 543-0947
An expert on constitutional law and the separation of church and state, Jay is teaching the evolution controversy during fall quarter. 

Richard Olmstead, professor of biology
(206) 543-8850, (206) 543-6594
A botanist studying, among other topics, plant evolution, Olmstead noted in an August op-ed in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that many aspects of Darwin’s theories have been modified over the years.

Peter Ward, professor of biology
(206) 543-2962
A prominent paleontologist who has studied mass extinctions in Earth’s distant past, Ward argued in an op-ed in the Tacoma News-Tribune that people misunderstand the term “theory” in connection with evolution. “Evolution,” Ward wrote, “is a theory in the same way that gravity is a theory.”  His books include “Future Evolution” and “Rare Earth.”

James Wellman, assistant professor of comparative religion
(206) 543-0339
An expert on religion in America, Wellman can discuss conflicts between evangelicals and liberals. Mixing church and state can harm both, he argued in a Seattle Times op-ed  during last year’s election campaign.