Sunday 12 February 2017: Visit to Darwin Lecture in Shrewsbury

On Sunday 12 February 2017, we have reserved 25 seats at £12 each for the Darwin Memorial Lecture at the Walker Theatre in the Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, and 20 seats at The Armoury for lunch beforehand (12.00 noon). Members, partners and friends welcome. The lecture is at 2.00 pm.

COINCIDENCE? DARWIN, WALLACE AND THE CO-DISCOVERY OF EVOLUTION BY NATURAL SELECTION Dr Andrew Berry, Harvard University.

Evolution by natural selection is biology’s central idea and arguably its most important one.

That this disarmingly simple notion was independently discovered synchronously by both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace suggests that our focus should be on what they had in common, the milieu – social, cultural, technological, political – in which they lived.

This lecture will review some of the factors underlying the Darwin-Wallace breakthrough, emphasizing the implicit lesson for the history of science – that for a full understanding we need a multi-dimensional reconstruction of the world in which scientists lived and worked.

Dr Berry, educated in Shrewsbury, is a lecturer in evolutionary biology at Harvard University and has published extensively on both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace.

If you would like a lecture ticket and/or a lunch place, contact Margaret Cann as soon as possible.

BHA Darwin Day Lecture online: Jerry Coyne, Evolution and atheism: best friends forever?

Other BHA events are on YouTube. Watch out for future events that will be uploaded.

Don’t miss our first meeting of the year

Darwin in ShrewsburyWho was the first human ? A look at some evolutionary examples, by John Edwards of Birmingham Humanist Group.

21 March , 2013 at 7:30 pm. The Lantern, Meadow Farm Drive, Shrewsbury SY1 4NG

All are welcome. We hope you’ll want to join and help our group thrive!

Darwin Festival and Memorial Lecture, February 2012

In February next (in place of a Thursday evening meeting) we are arranging for groups to attend events during The Darwin Festival.
This year the Darwin Memorial Lecture is given by Dr Jim Endersby, with the title Sympathetic Science: Charles Darwin, Joseph Hooker and the passions of Victorian Naturalists. It takes place at 2:30 pm, Sunday 12 February, Walker Theatre, Shrewsbury, and all tickets are £10.
If you are a Shropshire Humanist Group member, or would like to join and attend as part of the group, please contact Chris Smith, the group’s secretary. Payment is required by 15 December.
Nearer the time we will suggest a venue where we could meet for lunch before the lecture.
Details of the lecture and of other Darwin Festival events can be found at http://www.discoverdarwin.co.uk/darwin-festival/

Darwin Festival 2012 – the Café Scientifique, February 2012

Shrewsbury Café Scientifique will launch in February 2012 as part of the 2012 Darwin Festival.

Give your grey cells a good work out with a series of evening events at The Shrewsbury Coffeehouse which is situated between the station and the library (see contact details below).

Each café is FREE, informal and innovative and will run from 7pm-9pm. The Café Sci have managed to get some pretty inspirational speakers too. Come along for a coffee and see what you think. Full details of the five events can be found below.

There will only be 65 seats available at each talk. I have taken on the role of coordinator for Shropshire Humanist Group members and supporters who would like to attend one or more of the events, with a view to making our initial reservations by mid December. If you are interested in attending any of these evening talks  please let me know by Friday 16th December.

To contact Café Scientifique  directly: Sarah Bellis, The Shrewsbury Coffeehouse, 5 Castle Gates, Shrewsbury, SY1 2AE

Phone: 01743 242610 / 07582 601272 Email: SaraB@ShropshireWildlifeTrust.org.uk

Monday 13th February 2012

Randomness, Boeing 747s and Kylie Minogue – Jeremy Pritchard

Jeremy Pritchard is a scientist with a Twitter feed and a Facebook fan page. He has been described as “awesome”; his ability to defend evolution has “flair few can muster”. Join us for a lively evening of chat covering randomness, Boeing 747s and Kylie Minogue.

Tuesday 14th February 2012

Celebrating Mr Darwin – How should Shrewsbury celebrate its links to Charles Darwin? Shropshire Council, Shropshire Wildlife Trust and The Darwin Birthplace Society are in the same room for just two hours to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Wednesday 15th February 2012

The natural history of The Marches – Andrew Allott

Stretching along the bordering counties with England – Cheshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire – the Welsh Marches are made up of a mixture of mountains and moorlands, farms and wooded river valleys. The natural history of the region is like most parts of the British Isles – inextricably linked to the activities of man across many thousands of years. Andrew Allott brings together a wealth of material into a beautiful presentation celebrating our local wildlife.

Thursday 16th February 2012

@CharlesDarwin? – Jon King

Would Darwin have used Twitter? You may laugh, but social media has proved to be a powerfully effective means to spread new ideas and change the way we think. Darwin’s dangerous idea rocked the world- can we dissolve boundaries to create “biospheric” communication? Jon King is the Founding Director of the Shrewsbury Darwin Festival and is presently the senior eCommunications Officer at Shropshire Council.

Friday 17th February 2012

Citizen Science – Martin Harvey

Join Martin Harvey from the Open University for a chat about wildlife recording and Citizen Science. What is it? How does it work and what are the benefits and drawbacks of large scale science experiments? Martin will give a demonstration of the OPAL iSpot website, linking novice wildlife spotters with experts in the identification and mapping of British wildlife, and some of the other OPAL citizen science surveys. If you have even the slightest interest in wildlife, this cafe is for you.

2012 Ancestor’s Trail

From the Ancestor’s Trail Team:

We wanted to give you as much advance warning as possible for the 2012 Ancestor’s Trail.

It’s later in the year but still over a Bank Holiday weekend on Sunday 26th August in the same location – over the Quantock Hills in Somerset (although we are also actively preparing for a 2013 Northern Trail).

We have already booked Kilve Court Outdoor Education Centre with whom we will offer an all inclusive 1 or 2 night package for food, accommodation and entertainment (with camping options too).

When we have some more acts finalised, we’ll give you a link to our new Crowdfunder pitch so you can book to secure a place. We already have plenty of potential music acts lined up, and some exciting names showing interest as pre-trail speakers on the Saturday night. In the mean time, pencil us in your 2012 dairies!

Just in case you haven’t already heard it, here is a link to Clare Balding’s ‘Ramblings’ Radio 4 programme about the 2011 Trail.

Walking the Ancestor’s Trail

My name is Chris Jenord. I am a Somerset humanist who has been working with Bob Churchill at the London headquarters of the British Humanist Association to establish an event we hope will interest you. The project, named after Richard Dawkins’ book  The Ancestor’s Tale, combines long distance walking, biodiversity, evolution and Humanism. It represents, as far as we know, the very first biological pilgrimage (http://ancestorstrail.net/) and involves a group of atheists/ scientists/ environmentalists/ artists /philosophers working together to develop an annual celebration of our shared origins through evolution.

How does it work? Simultaneously a number of disparately located walking groups will begin trails that eventually coalesce, depicting the story of evolution in reverse. The number of walkers following the trail will gradually swell as tributary groups, representing the various branches the tree of life, merge with the main body of walkers. Eventually, the ever-increasing band of ‘pilgrims’ will arrive together at a fossil strewn beach, where we will celebrate life’s 3.7 billionth birthday with a small science festival.

We were thrilled to hear that the Canadian Halton-Peel Humanists near Toronto are currently planning their own version and I am currently trying to invite as wide an atheist community as possible to this year’s UK event. Consequently, we would be thrilled to welcome any Shropshire humanists to Somerset to take part in our second Ancestor’s Trail on the 29th/30th of May 2011.

I’d appreciate it greatly if you could complete the survey to help in our 2011 trail planning for Sunday 29th May. Doesn’t take long.

Chris Jenord

A.C. Grayling on Darwin and the Darwinian Controversy

A C Grayling Sue Willson wrote this report for the BHA Groups Newsletter…

Groups (and the weather) working together

Sometimes it seems as if Humanists are a combative lot of people who cannot agree about anything. However, recently five local groups co-operated to perfection. Here’s how it happened.

A year ago during the Darwin Festival in Shrewsbury, representatives from five local groups met for the first time. They came from Shropshire, Chester and Greater Manchester Humanists, Marches Secularists, and S Cheshire / N Staffordshire Humanists. We discussed hosting a public event in his birthplace to celebrate Darwin’s bicentenary. We decided that a talk given by a well-known speaker might well attract an audience that would not be embarrassingly small. This event could perhaps be part of the bicentenary festival being planned for 2009 by the local council.

Sue Falder of the Shropshire Humanists group did a great deal of the ground work, writing to several possible speakers, getting details of venues in the town, and arranging that the local theatre would sell some of the tickets. She asked for our views via email, and we had a very pleasant meeting over lunch in an excellent riverside bar in Shrewsbury. Professor AC Grayling had already been booked as the speaker, and Sue had booked his rail ticket and sent it to him. The Lord Hill hotel in Shrewsbury was confirmed as the venue, with an optional and prepaid buffet on offer. Sue then disappeared off to New Zealand on holiday, much of the work being done, and left the rest of us to it.

Perhaps surprisingly, the remaining tasks were shared out without any problems – liaising with the hotel, publicising the event, selling tickets and banking the takings in one group’s account, keeping in contact with Professor Grayling, and making arrangements for getting him from Stafford station to Shrewsbury and back again after the talk: all was going smoothly. We had another enjoyable lunchtime meeting – why not mix business and pleasure? We thought we were doing well when nearly 100 tickets were sold, and we booked the larger room available in the hotel. But it quickly became clear that nearly 200 people would be attending, and 60 for the buffet. Success in all respects, we thought.

BUT TWO DAYS BEFORE OUR EVENT, THE GREAT SNOW FELL: trains were cancelled, roads were treacherous, and a flurry of emails between us rivalled the snowflakes. What if our speaker couldn’t get out of London? What if people couldn’t get through to Shrewsbury? What if an angry mob attacked us for cancelling at short notice?

However, the weather forecasters predicted the best day of the week on Our Day, and all was well. Professor Grayling arrived in good time, and a friendly crowd of over 200 listened to the talk after 70 of us enjoyed the buffet. Many looked at our publicity displays about Humanism and our groups, and picked up leaflets. As this was our first attempt at organising an event together, there were a few hitches, including a less than perfect microphone and failing to record the lecture as planned. And with hindsight, we should have done more to ensure that the buffet provided an adequate choice for vegetarians.

The reps from the five groups are now planning another lunch together, and thinking of organising another event. And we have to decide what to do with the large surplus we made!

Group news 2008: Groups celebrate the Darwin connection

In 2008, discussions and speakers covered a variety of subject areas: Can science explain faith?, Islam: benign delusion or radical threat?, Transition Towns, Peak Oil and its consequences and Religion and the Law.

Then, for Darwin’s birthday, the group arranged an event which drew in people from five other humanist groups and resulted in the formation of an area committee which organised a bigger event for the centenary in 2009.

Over 30 members from six different Humanist Groups gathered in Shrewsbury on the 14th February to celebrate the week of Darwin’s birth in the town of his birth. Meeting up at the Morris Hall, site of the Bell Stone which is reputed to have been the stimulus for Darwin’s interest in geological change, the thirty or so visitors split up into smaller groups for a guided walk taking in the places related to Darwin’s years in the town.

Outside the old Shrewsbury School, now the library

Outside the old Shrewsbury School, now the town library. (Click on the thumbnail to see the picture.)

The group re-assembled to warm up and have lunch at the Armoury pub on the riverside and then in the afternoon they gathered back at the Hall to talk about inter-group links and preparations for next year’s bi-centenary celebrations.

Lunch in Armoury pub

Lunchtime!

Left to right: Bob Churchill from the B.H.A. with leaders of five groups: Connor Birch, Bishops Castle Secularists, Allan Muir, Chester, John Cross, Manchester, Sue Willson, South Cheshire/North Staffs, Derek Woodvine, Shrops.

Left to right: Bob Churchill from the B.H.A. with leaders of five groups: Connor Birch, Bishops Castle Secularists, Allan Muir, Chester, John Cross, Manchester, Sue Willson, South Cheshire/North Staffs, Derek Woodvine, Shrops.

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