Monday, February 12, 2007

Darwin Day, 12 February 2007

Here at ASU we just had a little lunchtime get-together to wish Charles Darwin a happy birthday. Tea and cakes, we sang Happy Birthday, and there was a little talk on his early life and background (up until the Beagle voyage). It's a step in the run-up to the big bicentennial in '09.

I was particularly pleased to attend as my wife and I got our doctorates from the Cambridge department of Earth Sciences, which has an excellent collection of Darwin's geological samples and great material on Adam Sedgewick (who taught Darwin geology).

Happy Darwin Day to all :)

A brief note on the "controversial" topic of evolution and religion:

Evolution, the fact that all forms of life are descended from a common ancestor, is not a scientifically controversial topic, in much the same way that the proposition that "if I drop this rock, it will fall" is not controversial. We've been looking at the subject for quite some time now and it's just the way things are. In other news, the earth goes round the Sun.

If you have religious objections to evolution, then you are wrong, much as religious objections to the earth going round the Sun were wrong. You will get a better handle on physical reality by paying attention to science than by reading Bronze Age legends, however poetic.

I would, however, strongly encourage everybody to read the Bible, in detail and with attention. There is no better cure for fundamentalism than to actually read the religious text in question, in all its self-contradictory, arbitrary and historically inaccurate glory.

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