Secular Sunday #7 – It's Darwin Day!

Welcome to this special Darwin Day edition of Secular Sunday.

Detail from Portrait of Charles Darwin by John Collier

Charles Darwin: 203 today!

As you all no doubt know, Charles Robert Darwin was born on 12 February 1809. His book On The Origin of Species , published when he was 50, described for the first time a plausible and robust theory of evolution that revolutionised the field of biology and in the words of Richard Dawkins “made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”.

There are two Darwin Day events taking place today so drop everything and try to get to one of them:

  • Some Atheist Ireland members and their families are meeting at 2:30 pm at the National Museum of Natural History in Dublin. (map)
    There’s a family-friendly Darwin Day tour scheduled for 3:00 pm, entitled “Monkey Business”. All are welcome. (You don’t need to have children to attend but it probably helps if you don’t hate them.) Some of us will likely go for food and/or drinks afterwards. Facebook event page
  • The Cork Humanists are meeting at 12:00 noon at the Quay Co-op meeting room. (map)
    Dr. John Murray, a lecturer in Paleontology at NUI Galway, will be giving a presentation entitled “Darwin’s Revelations”. Also, there will be cake! Facebook event page

If you can’t make it to either event, and have cable or satellite television, Discovery Science has a two-part documentary entitled “What Darwin Never Knew”, starting at 5:00 pm.

There are two more Darwin-related events taking place soon:

  • Monday, 13 February, 1:00 pm, Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College, Dublin 2
    A panel of guest speakers (to be confirmed) will speak about Darwin, his life work and its relevance at a lunchtime talk in the atrium of the Smurfit Institute of Genetics, TCD, Dublin. All are welcome.
    Later in the evening at 5pm, David Attenborough’s BBC documentary “Charles Darwin and The Tree of Life” will be shown in the Dawson Room. Unfortunately, due to space restrictions, this is limited to the Genetics Department (although they may be susceptible to bribes).
  • Friday 24 February, 7:00 pm, Synge Lecture Theatre – Arts Block, Trinity College, Dublin 2
    “Tracing Migrations with DNA: Relevance to Britain and Ireland”, a lecture by Stephen Oppenheimer, Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford UK, and author of “A Re-analysis of Multiple Prehistoric Immigrations to Britain and Ireland Aimed at Identifying the Celtic Contributions”. Organised by the Humanist Association of Ireland. Facebook event page

The Tree of Life, 1837

If all this talk of Darwin has made you want to learn more about him then you couldn’t hope for a better resource than The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. This staggeringly vast site has enough to keep Darwin enthusiasts busy for years, with copies of all Darwin’s books, numerous translations, high-resolution scans of original manuscripts, letters, drawings, journals, notes and even his wife’s recipe book! There are audio versions of most of his books, although the majority of these are produced by text-to-speech software which some users may find annoying.

For offline reading, Project Gutenberg has an extensive collection of Darwin’s books in a variety of e-reader formats.
Librivox has audio versions of several of Darwin’s books. These are read by volunteers so quality may vary, but you may find them preferable to a machine-read version.

If you’ve already read all of Darwin’s books, or are just too lazy (I’m not judging you!) you can watch Richard Dawkins’ documentary The Genius of Charles Darwin.

Other News

  • Last week we had our first competition. Congratulations to Richard Morton who has won a signed copy of Austin Dacey’s new book The Future of Blasphemy. The correct answer, as everyone who entered knows already, was The Secular Conscience. We’ll have more competitions in future issues.
  • Michael Nugent debated Hamza Tzortsis of the iERA on Tuesday in DIT. The videos of Hamza’s and Michael’s opening statements are available,and the rest of the debate should be online soon. On Thursday, Michael debated Adnan Rashid in Galway as Hamza was unwell and had to withdraw. Watch Michael’s and Adnan’s opening speeches. (A debate between Michael and Hamza on Tuesday at Trinity College had to be cancelled as Hamza missed his flight. It may be rescheduled for later in the month.)

And that’s it for another week. I hope you can make it to one of the Darwin Day events. We’ll be back next Sunday with more news and links. In the meantime, get all the latest news on our website, Facebook and Twitter. I’ll leave you with a quote from the man himself:

“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.”
― Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

Till next Sunday, keep evolving.

Derek Walsh
Editor, Secular Sunday
Atheist Ireland

 

 

 

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