Brighton Science Festival talk: Darwin's Sacred Cause


Author James Moore, Professor of History at the Open University, gave a fascinating talk to a packed audience about how a hatred of slavery motivated Charles Darwin to investigate the origins of life and the racial differences in humans.  This was and still is a hot topic. Who said science was cold?

Prof Moore and co-author Adrian Desmond have shown how a profound sense of morality drove Darwin to struggle against the vested interests of slavery and creationism. This is an exciting slice of history spanning continents and with the backdrop of the American civil war.

After meeting people of different race, Darwin was convinced that all humans are of the same kind. He eventually managed to prove this by painstakingly collecting and analysing a mountain of evidence collected from around the world.

The audience was treated to a summary of this complex story, illustrated with often emotive images from the period.

A question and answer session followed the talk. One person suggested that Darwin's ideas about race should be taught in schools. Another person asked if creationists are necessarily racist, to which Prof Moore replied that he thought most were not. This prompted someone else to wonder about the changing racial appearance of Jesus throughout the ages.

Following many years of lobbying by scientists, educators and organisations such as the British Humanist Association, the government has finally agreed to include evolution theory in the primary school curriculum from September 2014, but only from the age of 8. Apparently, children are old enough at the age of 5 to learn religion and pray every day but they are not old enough to understand evolution. Well, the basics of evolution are extremely simple to grasp. Have some fun watching this Homer Simpson clip.

The book Darwin's Sacred Cause is available from Amazon

An excellent companion is Jerry Coyne's book "Why Evolution is True" which explains the theory in simple terms and is aimed at countering the often heard misleading statement "... but evolution is just a theory". You can buy it from Amazon too.

In the meantime, creationist organisations are opening new schools in the UK. The battle continues.

Proceeds of the talk will be used to provide primary schools in West Sussex with free books on Humanism.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 13 March 2013 11:43)


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