Update from Norman

Saturday was the last full day of the OSLEP course and we had the students thinking about religious and other reactions to Darwinâs ideas; three hours on St George Jackson Mivart, Alfred Russel Wallace, Ernst Haeckel, and Charles Kingsley, followed by another three hours on American anti-evolutionism. The students really seemed to get into the material and Iâve been very impressed with what theyâve been able to accomplish since Wednesday. For those that may be interested, on Wednesday we discussed natural theology (Paley & Hume) and Darwinâs life. Thursday was devoted to discussions of Origin and Descent, while Friday was spent at a symposium examining Darwinâs influence across the disciplines. Iâm fairly confident that the students can now distinguish what Darwin really said from the assertions made by many anti-evolutionists â itâs amazing what a reading of the original texts can accomplish!

After the dayâs work, we went for a beer and a bite with the wonderful Abbie who in meat-space is charming, funny and oh-so passionate about science (not that she is not that online!). It was a pleasure to finally get to sit down and chat with her about creationism, HIV research, our sciblings (yup, thatâs why your ears were burning!), grad school, lab safety, life, the universe, and everything.

Tomorrow thereâs a short wrap-up session to take care of the students research papers and, beyond that, I intend to relax until I return home on Monday when my mind will have to turn to other talks and my regular classes.

Thinking about it, this past week has been filled with Darwin, good friends, new friends, great students, tornadoes, crazies on campus, creationist shenanigans, really old books, discussion, and collaboration. In short, it was great. 

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Glad the Darwin Day lecture went so well. We did a Darwin Day symposium at U Conn Avery Point which went over pretty well too. Glad to see people will still turn out on a cold Tuesday night to talk about ideas! I saw this article this morning in the NYT and thought of you:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/science/10essa.html

In fact the same question was posed to our panel on Tuesday at the Darwin talk and I tried to give your side of the argument. Probably poorly.