West Virginia University is celebrating the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin with DarwinFest, a series of talks and presentations examining the naturalist's work. The events run from February through early April.

MORGANTOWN -- The legal issues surrounding the teaching of intelligent design in public schools will be the topic of a talk Feb. 9 at West Virginia University.

Jay D. Wexler, a Boston University law professor, will speak on "Two Errors About the Evolution Controversy, or What I Learned from My Trip to the Creation Museum" at 3 p.m. at the College of Law, Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom.

Wexler's talk is sponsored by the College of Law and part of DarwinFest, a University-wide celebration of naturalist Charles Darwin's 200th birthday. It is free and open to the public.

"It's an honor for the law school to be part of DarwinFest," said Anne Marie Lofaso, WVU professor of law. "Our speaker, Jay Wexler, is one of the most distinguished thinkers writing about the constitutionality of teaching evolution and religion-based alternatives in public schools. I am certain that his presentation will be both informative and entertaining for lawyers, scientists and others interested in the debate."

The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not through natural selection -- Darwin's explanation for how species evolve.

Wexler, who has been teaching at Boston University since 2001, was a Stanford Law School student in 1997 when he wrote an article for the school's Law Review on why teaching intelligent design in public schools violates the First Amendment. He has been writing about law and religion since.

He has published articles and essays on the evolution controversy in several legal journals, including the Georgetown Law Journal, the Vanderbilt Law Review, the First Amendment Law Review and the Washington University Law Review. His first book, "Holy Hullabaloos: A Road Trip to the Battlegrounds of the Church-State Wars," will be published in June.

Prior to teaching, Wexler worked as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Judge David Tatel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. He has also worked at the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice and spent time teaching in Europe.

He also has a bachelor's degree in East Asian Studies from Harvard University and a master's degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School.

WVU's DarwinFest consists of a series of talks and presentations examining the influence of Darwin's work. The events, which continue through early April, will feature leading scholars and scientists from around the world.

The activities are supported by various academic and administrative units, including Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, the President's Office and University Relations.

Wexler is participating in DarwinFest as the Edward G. Donley Memorial Speaker. Named for an eminent Morgantown attorney of the first half of the 20th century, the Edward G. Donley Memorial Lectures bring to the University distinguished members of the legal profession to lecture in their area of expertise.

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