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Harvard botanist Asa Gray, a devout Presbyterian, foresaw the storm that Charles Darwin's revolutionary theory of evolution would trigger. To deny the design of God in the development of new species was blasphemous, warned Gray. For 30 years, Gray and Darwin corresponded, debating natural selection, science and religion, exchanging ideas and opinions about family, war and slavery and even sharing gossip.
This relationship was brought to life Feb. 11 in Cornell's Uris Auditorium, in "Re:Design," a dramatization of those letters. The event was the kickoff to a weeklong series of events at Cornell and in Ithaca to celebrate Darwin Day, a commemoration of the scientist's birthday, Feb. 12, 1809, and his ideas.