Category: Radio

Thought for Darwin Day, BBC Radio Suffolk

Charles_Darwin_aged_51Today is Darwin Day, the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 1809. In celebrating Darwin Day, those of us who value the great man’s achievements hope to raise awareness of his work. If he were still alive, Darwin would be surprised that it’s still the subject of so much debate.

Like many great scientists and thinkers, Darwin was driven by an intense curiosity from an early age, when he was happiest wandering around the countryside near his home in Shrewsbury, collecting rocks, bugs, beetles and plants. His habit of taking natural history specimens home to study them persisted for the rest of his life.

12th February, Darwin Day

Earth-clockMonday 12th February is Darwin Day, the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 1809. Scientists, Humanists and Rationalists around the world will be celebrating Charles Darwin’s birthday in a variety of ways.

Charles Darwin’s book The Origin of Species set out his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Whenever I get the chance, I tell children in Suffolk schools about evolution. It’s surprising, and worrying, how few seem to know much about it. Unless they know the truth, they are susceptible to the lies being promoted by Creationists who are distributing “Intelligent Design” teaching materials wherever they can.

This is how I’ve introduced evolution in schools:

Assumptions

The actor Warren Mitchell, most well-known for his role as the bigoted Alf Garnett in “Till Death us do Part”, is a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association. He’s of Russian Jewish descent, and has been quoted as saying, “I enjoy being Jewish, but I’m an atheist”. There are many atheist Jews like him. Warren tells a story about visiting Northern Ireland, where he was asked if he’s a Catholic or a Protestant. “I’m Jewish,” he replied.

Life is what happens

John Lennon said that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Those plans might include New Year’s resolutions. I never make any, knowing from experience that things will happen regardless. Not that I don’t intend to make an effort to sort out the more disorganised parts of my life – that’s work in progress – but there’s no reason why I should be any more successful if I start a list of things to do on 1st January than at any other time of the year.

Evolution Day

DinosaursOn this day (24th November), 147 years ago, Charles Darwin’s revolutionary book, On the Origin of Species, was published. His theory of evolution by natural selection is still generally accepted as the best explanation of how life on Earth developed.

Dawkins (and others) on Altruism

Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, took part in BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’ programme this morning (23 November) on Altruism. The programme is presented by Melvyn Bragg. You can download the programme, or Listen Again via the In Our Time website.

11/11

WW1A few years ago, the mayor of a Suffolk town, an atheist, planned to mark Armistice Day with an inclusive, secular ceremony. After the procession through the town and a wreath-laying on the war memorial, it would be up to those who were Christians whether or not they attended a church service. It never happened. The mayor had to deal with a family matter and handed the arrangements over to others who (influenced by conservatives in the British Legion) did things the usual way, with religious ceremonial.

John Humphrys in search of God

John Humphrys as you’ve never heard him before – talking with religious leaders about his unfulfilled desire to believe in God.

How is faith possible in a world of suffering, much of it arguably caused by religion or religious extremism and to which God seems to turn a blind eye? Is there a place for religion in an age dominated by science?

John Humphrys talking to rather than interviewing Archbishop Rowan Williams is worth listening to. In the piece Williams accepts that, “Religion and geo-politics always mix in a rather explosive way”.