The uses and abuses of Charles Darwin


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Darwin-Büste, Naturkundemuseum Berlin, Bild: BB
I’m at the Cambridge University college that Charles Darwin attended before heading off on a ship to change the world’s views about the origin of the species, particularly the evolution of humans.

By Douglas ToddThe Vancouver Sun

Darwin’s theories have been used and abused for many things in the past century or two — to promote racism and defeat racism, promote competition and encourage cooperation, to treat humans as objects and see them as special, to believe humans are machines and to say they have free choice, to attack religion and advance religion (particularly through a movement sometimes known as ‘theistic evolution”).

A conference at Christ’s College in Cambridge, organized by The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, is actually titled “The uses and abuses of biology.” But quite a bit of it focuses on that revolutionary scientific figure, Darwin (less so on the so-called co-founder of evolution, Alfred Russell Wallace, who was Welsh and had a much less privileged education.)

There are paintings and sculptures of Darwin around the elegant, gated campus, along with paintings of other Christ’s College students, such as the poet John Milton, author of Paradise Lost (written in 1667). The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, also went here. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m impressed by the history. Of course it’s easy to historically impress someone who lives in a province where the earliest standing building is only about 120 years old.)

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