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Winter 2008


...the sculpture
was installed
in 1997 as the creation/evolution debate re-emerged in the United States.






Behind the Scenes

“Godwin” is Monument to
Creation-Evolution Debate

By Helen Fosgate

He sits in plain sight outside the entrance to the Science Library, bearing no name, date, or explanation. Yet his presence is significant, showing the complementary—or, depending on one’s point of view, opposing—forces on a major scientific issue that often transcends science.

Goodwin sculptureCreated by Mel Chin, visiting Lamar Dodd Professor of Art, the sculpture was installed in 1997 as the creation/evolution debate re-emerged in the United States. One side of the head is Darwin (who was bald); the other side is God as depicted in the Sistine Chapel.

Affectionately named “Godwin” by the library staff, the sculpture has, on occasion, been vandalized. The left eye, God’s eye, has an orange cast, the remnants of spray paint.

History professor Ed Larson (see Viewpoint), who requested Godwin as the venue for his environmental portrait, was a member of the University Council in 1997, when members considered whether the sculpture should be approved for display.

“I actually quite like the statue,” said Larson, “even though I spoke against it at the time because I thought presenting God and Darwin as opposing alternatives was a problem. But there was a lively debate, and Wyatt Anderson [former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and world-renowned geneticist], spoke for it. I remember him saying that because the sculpture included both of them, it was neutral. For the record, I’m glad Wyatt prevailed and that the University gave it a good home.”



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