Darwin in London



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As well as the major exhibitions celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, like the Natural History Museum's 'Darwin: Big Idea', there's a host of smaller events around London to mark the occasion: here's a selection

  • Darwin in London

    Darwin: Big Idea © Natural History Museum

  • Darwin: Big Idea
    Huge exhibition devoted to Darwin’s ideas.
    Natural History Museum. Until Apr 19.

    Charles Darwin of Gower Street
    UCL Library Services exhibits items from its Special Collections in honour of Darwin, who lived in a house on the site between 1839 and 1842.
    UCL Library. Until Jan 31.

    Darwin and the Book that Shocked the World
    On show are books of the time which had an influence on Darwin, as well as wall displays detailing his epic voyage, fossils, photographs and illustrations.
    Darwin and the Book that Shocked the World, British Library. Until Mar 22.

    Darwin at Down
    Exhibition of photograph of Darwin's Bromley house, where 'The Origin of the Species' was written.
    Horniman Museum, Feb 7-Jun 7.

    Darwin Portraits
    Photographic display of Darwin portraits.
    Room 26, National Portrait Gallery. Until May 31.

    A Darwinian Perspective on Religions: Past, Present and Future
    Daniel Dennett, author of ‘Darwin’s Dangerous Idea’, lectures as part of the British Humanist Association’s Darwin 200 programme. Richard Dawkins will chair the event.
    Conway Hall. 6.30pm, Mar 19.

    Beginning with Blobs
    Young people’s theatre company Kazzum offers insight into evolution for those aged four to eight.
    Venue tbc (www.darylbeeton.co.uk). Oct-Nov.

    Darwin, Finches, Faith and Fossils
    The Zoological Society is holding a scientific meeting to examine the legacy of Darwin’s voyage and the fate of some of the key people and species he encountered along the way.
    Zoological Society of London. 6pm, Feb 10.

    Darwin Trail
    A family-oriented excursion around London Zoo exploring Darwin’s ideas, plus walks ‘with Darwin’.
    London Zoo. 14-22 Feb.

    Darwin's London Professor
    Steve Jones introduces this day of talks about London’s influence on Darwin and the effects of his theory on the reshaping of the city.
    Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. May 16.

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Narval Stewart
Narval Stewart

Charollte- Science rely on evidence that is available at the time of the time of discovery or proposition being made. Only a fool would seriously suggest that darwin's theory of natural selection close the book on evolution. There is stil more pages to be turned and more chapters to be uncovered. Like Ian righlt pointed out, darwin only explained the development of life and not the origins as the title of his book would have us believed. Also, the fossil record only provides a sample of life not life itself but a mere sample. Therefore its not entirely relaible and the carbon dating can only take us to a few distance in history. I would suggest that you study evolutionary biology or bilogical anthropology before making assertions that are wrong and in most cases false. Most of Richard dawkins views are what he think is true rather than what is the literal truth. None of us hold such priviligde of knowing what is literally true if there is or was such a thing. Also like I said to you before the ideas in the selfish gene or Hamilton's ideas not dawkins. he merely borrowed them

Ian Howes
Ian Howes

Dear Charlotte, thank you for your thoughtful comment. 20 years ago I argued vociferously in support of Darwinian evolution until I realized that this wasn’t a debate about science or facts. Rather this was a debate about philosophy. If one’s starting point is that God does not exist, then Darwinian evolution or spontaneous equilibrium (very rapid or spontaneous evolution between species to explain the lack of intermediate species in the fossil record) are reasonable theories to support the origin of life. But they are only hypotheses. They are not fact. On the flip side, one can neither prove the existence of God, and so creationism is also a hypothesis. But I would argue, that if one examines the historical, geological, biological, anthropic (order in the universe) and paleontological evidence with an open mind, there is considerably more evidence to suggest that we have a God of design and order who loves us. Unfortunately, Christianity which was the very foundation of our great academic institutions (including Harvard, Princeton, Oxford and Cambridge) has been erased by intellectualists from even being considered as an alternative to Darwinian evolution (see Ben Steins movie “Expelled�) and so for many years students (myself included) have been fed just one side of the debate. So much for academic freedoms. Charlotte, you are certainly entitled to believe that the billions of species we see today evolved from some starting point over a long period of time. However, in so doing you must throw out the biblical record of hundreds of fulfilled prophesies, the historical account of Jesus Christ and the empty tomb at Easter witnessed by over 500 people, and you must believe that the extraordinary complexity of the universe happened by chance (if the tilt of the earth was off by even 0.5 degrees from its 23.5 degrees from vertical or of the earth’s gravitational force was just 1 over 10 to the power of 40 times more or less than it currently is, the earth could no longer support life). You must also believe that the first life form (presumably a single cell) somehow burst into existence on its own after the big bang. This cell must have incorporated a nucleus with DNA containing the hundreds of thousands of nucleotide bases all in the correct order, the reproductive machinery to produce RNA and proteins. It must also have contained the eukaryotic flagellum each of which contains around 140 distinct components, of which if any one component were missing the flagellum would no longer exist and the cell would die. You must also believe that this single cell or life form then evolved into the billions of species we see today. You must also believe that the eye and a peacock’s tail evolved, that there is no good and evil (everything is natural) and that you are just one tiny and insignificant part of the great evolution of life. Now that’s what I would call faith. Many scientists, academics and journalists have set out to disprove Christianity and in the process have come to believe in the evidence of an engaged God who loves us enough to send his son to die in our place so that we can be reconciled to him again (Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, A Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, I don’t have enough Faith to be an Atheist by Frank Turek). In an interview with Ben Stein, Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene, when asked how the first life form came to be, seriously suggested that perhaps an alien had deposited it on earth. This is from one of your named sources of “facts�. As I said earlier, this is a philosophical debate that ultimately comes down to whether or not each of us is willing to acknowledge that an all powerful God is in charge rather than us.


BTW do please enlighten us on those 'holes' and 'unconvincing explanation' you refer to; also what you personally 'see..in nature' to refute the theory. I look forward to your landmark insights and their impact on the future of evolutionary biology...


Narval Stewart: Couple of tips - your trying to debate = you're trying to debate (ie. you are) The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (no apostrophe in Dawkins) Newton's theories (ie theories of Newton therefore apostrophe) Also, I'm curious - whereabouts in my paragraph does it show "ignorance about the subject I'm trying to debate?" If you re-read my original post you will (hopefully) understand that it is your use of the word "belief" I take issue with. A word that tends to cause distrust amongst scientists, which i take it you are???


CHARLOTTE, I have read the origins of species and dawkin's self gene. Just some background information for your understanding as you seem to be ignorant about the subject your trying to debate. The views expressed in the self gene by dawkin's are Hamilton's ideas. Also, I did not dismiss darwin and his theories. I merely stated that they cannot and should not be taken as a literal expression of the truth. When science speaks about evidence, they speak about evidence that is availabe at the time. Undoubtedly, there will be evidence in time that will disprove alot of darwin's assertion just like how eintsien crippleed newtons theoires. Science is based on a single interpretation of the world and is built on the assumption that there are cause and effects. To understand causes and effect read david hume


Ian Howes : A suggestion. Why don't you actually read The Origin of the Species, then the The Selfish Gene and equip yourself with some fact rather than crass opinion. Narval Stewart : Surely blind belief is exactly what Darwin is discouraging the student from succumbing to. Don't "believe' , this is not faith. It's the opposite of faith. You shouldn't "completely believe Darwin's theory of Natural Selection." YOu should be a scientist and look at the evidence. Isn't that how you're being taught to think?

Ian Howes
Ian Howes

The probability that man evolved by natural selection is about the same as the probability of a monkey typing the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary if left to his own devices and given enough time. It's statistically zero. No one has yet to credibly explain how even a "primitive" cell came into existence in the first place. It's hard for me to imagine that Dawin could possibly have imagined that man evolved from goop if he had understood the incredible complexity of just one cell. Go visit this exhibition but to think it explains the origin of species requires way more faith than to beleive that there was a God who created everything.

Narval Stewart
Narval Stewart

I am a university student who is currently studying modules in Biology which invovle the theories of the birthday boy Charles Robert Darwin. While I have an appreciate for the great discoveries of science such as the DNA struck by Crick and Watson, independent assortment and genetics by Mendel. I do not completely believe Dawrin's theory of Natural Selection. I believe it, insofar as there are elements which appears undoubtebly truth as the weight of evidence would suggest. However, like religion that most of the scientist or advocates of Darwin's theory have a distate for specifically because they see holes or unconvincing explanation. I too see things in nature that do not fit this theory. Darwin theory explain the development of life not the origins of species from the very begining as the misleading title would suggest.