Augustus Earle and Darwin

Painting by Augustus Earle of Kororareka from his time spent in New Zealand

 A little while ago I gave a talk at a conference in Auckland in which I mentioned
Looking for Darwin. I was approached afterwards by Guy Hamling, who kindly drew my attention to a passage written in Earle’s Narrative of his time in New Zealand. Read More...

The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins may or may not give Christmas gifts, but I received him as a gift. Well, to be more exact, I received a copy of his book, “The God Delusion.”

I’ve started reading it and it looks interesting: well written and to say that it pulls punches would be like saying Mike Tyson intended to kiss Evander Holyfield’s ear. There is more than just a little of the pugilistic in the language, more than just a little of the boxer in his stance.

Quantum Queries

Two seemingly unconnected events: (i) I am writing about Emperor Penguins, and (ii) I am listening to an interview on the radio about applying quantum mechanics to evolutionary biology. Read More...

Darwin and the Galapagos Islands

I’ve just finished writing about Darwin’s experiences in the Galapagos Islands and, surprizingly, it took less time and less space than I had originally anticipated. On reflection I can see that this should not have been a surprize because Charles Darwin spent a relatively trifling amount of time in the Galapagos considering the duration of his journey on the Beagle and, when there, it certainly did not strike him as the key to evolution as it has often been portrayed. Read More...

To Publish or to Perish?

A publisher has urged me, in no uncertain terms, to take down the extracts from Looking for Darwin that I had posted. I admit that it is a difficult issue. Obviously by posting contents that I intend to publish in printed form later, it could be construed that I have “devalued” them somewhat by putting them on the internet beforehand for all the world to see. Also, the publisher worried that others might steal my words. And while that may well be the sincerest form of flattery, in my view someone would have to be pretty desperate to do that. Read More...

Time: Evolution Wars

The cover story in the current issue of Time Magazine is headlined “Evolution Wars”. It reports on the growing push within the United States to have “Intelligent Design” taught alongside evolution in schools as an alternative theory. Perhaps the most telling line in the whole article is the one that quotes the results of a Harris poll of 1,000 American adults: “54% did not believe humans had developed from an earlier species”. Read More...

Hello world!

The above topic title was the one automatically assigned to this first post by WordPress – the engine that is powering this blog – and I have retained it because it seems especially appropriate. Firstly, greetings to the world – I hope this reaches a wide audience and that we can enjoy this journey together! Secondly, this site is devoted to developing an understanding of the world: it is based upon my experiences associated with writing a book called Looking for Darwin where I am attempting to unravel what this life and this world are all about. How did we get here? Read More...
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