Chris Smith writes:
Birmingham Humanist John Edwards took us through some aspects of the evolution story, starting with some creation myths which were new to me. Along the way he addressed the question, “Who was the first human?” Answer, “There wasn’t one.” Showing how the small changes from one generation to the next meant that one species (in the sense of a group which could interbreed) changed into a different one. That 185 million generations ago (approximately!) our direct ancestors were fish, is quite a sobering thought. When early humans came out of Africa it was in two waves, which became all the world’s varying races. I would like to think they were motivated at least in part by the curiosity to see over the next hill, or beyond the horizon. There followed a lively question and answer session.
John did get back to Birmingham before the snow became too heavy. He generously declined expenses, and in addition saved the group at least £36 for projector hire by bringing along his own equipment. We made a collection for the charity he and his wife set up after the death of their son in 2010. The charity supports people being treated for cancer, who are in financial difficulties, to have a holiday. If you know someone who is in such a situation they could apply. I understand Shropshire people often receive cancer treatment in Birmingham.
For more information and if you wish make a donation, see http://www.ianedwardscbtrust.org.uk/
Some other events in Shropshire were affected by unseasonably cold and occasionally snowy weather.
The debate organised by PurpleFish and SOLAS in Oswestry went ahead and you will find reports in this blog. The recording does not seem to be available yet, but by all accounts Andrew Copson of the BHA made an excellent case and there was some continuing debate that you will find in the comments in this blog.
Janet Heimlich (see pictures) visited Shropshire at the invitation of the Secular Matters group, and some members of SHG attended. The snow reported in the south east fortunately did not reach Bishop’s Castle although it was a cold night. Janet talked on child abuse within religious groups, mostly with reference to the USA, but she did refer to African religious communities in this country, particularly in London, and that is a serious matter.
Sadly, the visit arranged at the last minute of Sanal Edamaraku did not happen, because of the snow and exhaustion – his schedule must be very gruelling!
The bad weather and our relative remoteness have caused difficulties this month, but we hope that the successes will encourage other secular, rationalist, sceptic and humanist speakers with interesting things to say to come and visit us in the future.