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.


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.

14 February: Darwin Memorial Lecture – Alexander von Humboldt and his influence on Darwin

We have reserved seats for the Darwin Memorial Lecture, and a table at The Armoury for lunch beforehand (arrive 12 noon). Members, partners and friends welcome.

The lecture is on Sunday February 14th at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn, starting at 2.30 pm. The tickets for the lecture cost £10 each. Pay for your choice of meal on the day.

Please tell us if you’ll be joining us for lunch and lecture or just lecture. Payment must be made by  December 12th.

Please contact Ron Falder at falder [at]

The Invention Of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt And His Influence On Charles Darwin, by Andrea Wulf

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was a visionary scientist who created the way we understand nature today. His writings, though unfortunately often ignored now, was enormously influential in its day and shaped the work of Darwin and many other scientists and thinkers of his day. Andrea Wulf will examine these relationships and outline the contribution that Humboldt made to the study of nature and scientific method.

Andea Wulf is a historian whose work has focussed on the relationship between humankind and the natural world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her book Founding Gardeners. The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation was published to great acclaim in spring 2011. Her most recent book The Invention of Nature published in 2015, makes the case for the recognition of Humboldt as a key figure in nineteenth century science as the thinker who understood the interconnectedness of nature and who saw earth as a living organism.

30 April: Amnesty International Telford group talk on Inequality

Amnesty Telford logoSHG members and readers may be interested in a free lecture sponsored by the Amnesty International Telford Branch on the subject of inequality.

Ana Caistor Arendar, Head of Inequality Campaigns at Oxfam, will give a talk entitled Even It Up at The Studio (next to the Chapel), Wrekin College TF1 3BH at 4.00 pm on Thursday, April 30th.

Free admission, refreshments provided.  There will be a collection to cover expenses.

Queries to Paul Francis, francisliberty [at] or phone 01952 728694

Darwin Festival in February in Shrewsbury

Darwin during the Shrewsbury Flower Show, August 2014  © Richard Burnham 2014
Darwin during the Shrewsbury Flower Show, August 2014 © Richard Burnham 2014

The SHG doesn’t hold a meeting in February, as there is a wealth of events at the Darwin festival in Shrewsbury, Darwin’s birthplace. Of particular note is the memorial lecture that some of the group attend.

Sunday 15th February 2015, 14.30. The Darwin Memorial Lecture: “A ‘brilliant blunder’? Darwin and Mendel revisited.” by Dr Gregory Radick

A long tradition holds that Charles Darwin blundered badly on inheritance and how it works. He wrote at the same period when Gregor Mendel, the “father of genetics,” laid the foundations for what later scientists judged to be the correct account. With February 2015 marking 150 years since Mendel presented his views, this lecture will explore the questions of what Darwin believed about inheritance, how he came to think about inheritance in the ways he did, and why we might lose more than we gain if we classify his efforts under “brilliant blunder.”

Greg Radick is the Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds. His main area of research is the history of biology and the human sciences from the eighteenth century to the present, with particular emphases on Darwinism, genetics and animal behaviour. His books include ‘The Simian Tongue: The Long Debate about Animal Language’ and ‘The Cambridge Companion to Darwin’. Since 2012, he has been Editor-in-Chief of the journal Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

Promoted by the Friends of Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. TICKETS £10. See more details at

Dr Rupert Read on climate change

From the conference organised by Center for Inquiry UK and the British Humanist Association: Global Warming — Where Do We Go From Here? Philosopher and Green activist Dr Rupert Read speaking on global over-heat, the end of denialism, and the self-destruction of libertarianism in relation to this issue – and a possible way forward, in terms of guardians for future people.

Reason Week at the University of Birmingham, 25 February to 1 March

25th Feb – 1st March 2013  is Reason Week at the University of Birmingham Atheist, Secular & Humanist Society (UB:ASH), and they have some interesting talks and discussions lined up.  These are open to all. Unfortunately they haven’t given exact details of all events so confirm times and locations at their Facebook page.

List of speakers – rooms and times to be confirmed:
Monday 25 Feb: Andrew Copson (Chief Executive of the BHA) – Blasphemy by the Backdoor
Tuesday 26 Feb: Maryam Namazie (Human rights activist) – Apostasy and Freedom of Conscience. Arts Building Room 201
Wednesday 27 Feb: David Pollock (Former President of the European Humanist Federation) – The Church’s Influence on Education
Thursday 28 Feb: Dr Allan Hayes (University of Leicester)- topic to be confirmed
Friday 1 March: Prof. Paul Sturges (Loughborough University)- Defamation of Religion

Lunch time (13:00-14:00) discussions and collaborations – rooms to be confirmed:
Monday 25 Feb: Collaboration with Interfaith Association – Interfaith Marriage
Tuesday 26 Feb: Collaboration with Christians in Science – Has Science Buried God?
Wednesday 27 Feb: Collaboration with Islamic Society – Islamophobia
Thursday 28 Feb: Collaboration with Fetish Society and LGBTQ – Sexuality and Religion
Friday 01 March: Collaboration with Philosophy Society – Euthanasia: The Right to Die

UB:ASH writes: 

The  UB:ASH is proud to present Reason Week 2013 –  an exclusive event with opportunities to inquire, and hopefully leave you feeling inspired!”We will be joined by other student societies to engage in frank, but respectful discussions about issues relating to religion, science and their impact on everyday life, as well as welcoming high-profile speakers who will be giving lectures on various interesting topics. This is a free and open event, so come along if you have any burning questions, a thirst for knowledge, or you simply want to learn what other people think. We are very excited to host Reason Week, and we hope to see as many of you there as possible.

“N.B.: As a group, we promote tolerance and respect. Religion is a topic that needs academic challenge, not conflict. So agression will not be tolerated. We encourage people from every belief group to come along and participate in what we hope will be engaging discussions, and to learn what other groups think without giving or taking offense.”

It doesn’t matter whether you are current student / ex-student / aspiring student / never been a student  ……you are welcome to attend.

Janet Heimlich (‘Breaking Their Will’) will talk in Shropshire on religious child maltreatment

Janet Heimlich will have an opportunity to talk in Shropshire  on her UK tour after all. She will be at The Town Hall, Bishops Castle SY9 5BG on Tuesday 12th March starting at 7:30 pm.

For  more information about her talk, please see our previous article.

The talk is being arranged by a group called Secular Matters.

Everyone is welcome,  but it would be helpful if you can let Gwil Stephenson know so that he can have an idea of numbers. His email address is gwil [at]

Darwin Lecture 2013

The 2013 Darwin Lecture in will take place on Sunday 10th February at 2.30pm in the Walker Theatre (within the Theatre Severn Complex) in Shrewsbury.

The lecture will be given by Professor Jim Moore of the Open University and will be entitled “Making Livings – The Economic Worlds of Darwin and Wallace”. Tickets will cost £10 each.

The programme of forthcoming events comments that…. “Alfred Russel Wallace, who wrote about evolution at the same time as Darwin, died in 1913. To recognise his contribution this year’s lecture focuses on the relationship between the two men, their differences and their similarities”.

Details of the lecture and of the Theatre Severn Complex can be found at

As in 2012, the Shropshire Humanist Group will be arranging a group booking to the lecture itself along with an optional lunch at or close to the theatre (a suitable venue will be selected shortly).

To be sure of our seats it will be prudent for us to book them well before the festive season gets underway. Although it may feel rather early, if you would like to attend this event could you please let us know as soon as possible and, at the same time, indicate whether you would be interested in meeting for lunch beforehand.


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