Feb. 12 marks the 202nd birthday of the renowned naturalist. Auburn Atheist and Agnostics are hosting “Darwin Day” Feb. 10.
“It’s a celebration of his life to some degree, but also his work as a naturalist and his contribution to evolutionary theory,” said Rebecca Godwin, president of the AAA.
Jon Armbruster, associate professor and curator of fishes at Auburn, will be speaking at this year’s Darwin Day celebration.
Armbruster teaches evolution and systematics, comparative biology, morphology and systematic ichthyology. Each class is dedicated in some way to evolutionary research.
His talk is titled “The Life and Natural History Collections of Charles Darwin.”
“I will discuss some of the interesting places he went, what he found, the specimens he collected, and how they led him to some of his ideas,” Armbruster said. “As someone that actively scours the world for biological samples, his life has been an inspiration to me.”
Armbruster received funding for one of the largest taxonomic projects ever: describing all catfish species in five years.
“Although a student in an evolution class will come out knowing more than Darwin ever did,” Armbruster said. “He was instrumental in changing the way that we think about the natural world.”
The AAA had more than 100 people in attendance last meeting.
“The purpose is to allow members of the Auburn family to come and learn what we’re all about as a group,” said Richard Stroder, communications director for the club. “And for the most part, interactions are both productive and cordial.”
Many of the club’s meetings are standing room only.
“Never during any of our events or meetings have we encountered anyone who was outright malicious,” Stroder said.
Outside of the privacy of their meeting rooms, however, the AAA encounters some of the backlash of maintaining their beliefs in the Bible Belt.
“When we host the ‘Ask an Atheist/Agnostic’ table on the concourse, it is regular practice to be flipped off, given dirty looks, yelled, or cursed at,” Stroder said.
The celebration will take place at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 10 in the Student Center.