Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

first image: Darwin's Study at Down House.
second image: part of his bird collection

Thursday, February 12 would be Darwin's 200th birthday and 2009 is the 150th anniversary of his "On the Origin of Species." Double reasons to celebrate.

These images are from an exhibition in his honor at Down House in Kent.
"It was his observations of birds - notably the differences in finch populations in the Galapagos islands - that gave Darwin the scientific grounds for his theory of evolution."

More on Darwin in the Guardian. Also, the NY Times has extensive coverage here. And the New Scientist.

** Update 2/12/09 4:14am: My favorite, Verlyn Klinkenborg on Darwin (NY Times).


Michael said...

Oddly enough, the trouble with focusing on Darwin is that it encourages “creationists”- most of whom are Americans. It’s clear that the US education system is incredibly poor, so that many Americans cannot distinguish provable fact from belief. They are used to quoting from a book in support of their beliefs, and ignoring the reality round them.

If you focus on Darwin, they think that you are only offering Darwin’s books as a counter to their books. They seem unaware that science has moved on since Darwin’s books were written one and a half centuries ago. No serious scientist today doubts that the world is billions of years old, and that evolution is a fact.

However, there has been intense research and debate over the past century and a half, about the details of how evolution works. Our understanding of it has developed massively since Darwin’s early commentary.

When the creationists hear this debate going on, they only hear that “Darwin’s book was wrong”. They ignore the century and a half of factual research and also the thousands of books on the subject written after Darwin’s. Focusing on Darwin allows them to ignore reality.

Miss Whistle said...

Michael, thank you, you make excellent points. As a lapsed (English) anglican, I have never understood why Darwin & a nice loose interpretation of the Bible couldn't live in perfect harmony. I tend to avoid the creationists and really don't want to give them the time of day, which is I suppose a little childish and ostrich-like. I just find that position untenable. There was an interesting piece on NPR yesterday about this guy Henry Green a Southern Baptist who made a few enemies by doubting the literal truth of the Bible. It's quite interesting.

Thanks so much for your comments.