Archive | Books RSS feed for this section

Evolution and Creation

2 May

I wrote in my book on Edward Wilson that Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ ‘shook and challenged the church which taught that the universe was created in six days as described in Genesis’

Professor ‘Sam’ (R.J.) Berry, Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College London, and past president of the Linnean Society, has written to point out that this is not quite true.

Whilst many committed Christians must have been astonished and distressed at questions about the veracity of the Holy Gospel, apparently some very senior, established churchmen accepted the concept of evolution, though ‘natural selection’ was a more problematical concept — although the Creator could design an organism that was specifically adapted to its environment, this perfect specificity would be lost if the environment was not constant.

As far back as 1788, James Hutton had written that ‘the world was almost infinitely old’.

In Darwin’s time, the Reverend Charles Kingsley wrote that he had never fully understood God’s greatness, goodness and perpetual care until he was converted to Darwin’s views. Other eminent churchmen accepted that there was no conflict between knowledge of Nature and a belief in God. The concept of evolution had created a unity in the science of Nature, a unity that was to be expected in the hand of God.

Professor Berry writes that modern ‘Creationism’ was only born in the twentieth century through the efforts of the Canadian Adventist George McCready Price. Now the theory of ‘intelligent design’ a version of creationism that disputes the idea that natural selection alone can explain the complexities of life, is taught in many American schools, alongside the theory of evolution

Wilson seems to have had no problem with the concept of evolution, which must have been discussed in his home with his intelligent, enquiring family. He accepted that evolution was part of God’s plan. His faith remained the scaffolding of his existence. It sustained him on the final days as he died slowly in the Antarctic




The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott

2 Mar

Scott was aware of, and keenly interested in, technical developments in the early 1900s. He also understood the importance of marketing his second expedition. To help advertise the expedition he took the ‘Camera Artist’ Herbert George Ponting as part of the ‘Terra Nova’ crew. Ponting was considered to be one of the finest travel photographers of his time. When he was appointed he wrote that the expedition would allow him to turn the experiences he had gained into some permanent benefit for mankind.
Ponting taught Scott to use the cumbersome photographic equipment. Unsurprisingly Scott was fascinated by the technique. He made many false starts; on one occasion, having followed the check list carefully and taken photographs to no effect, he worked out that he had forgotten to remove the camera lens. But he developed into a talented photographer. He learnt how to ‘compose’ an image so that, for example, outlines of the tents were in pleasing harmony with the silhouettes of the background mountains, shapes moulded gracefully into each other. It was a technique that took time.
Ponting did not go across the Barrier and on towards the Pole. It was left to his students to faithfully record the last few months of Scott’s ill-fated expedition. Many of these images are in ‘The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott’ edited by Dr. David. M. Wilson.

Edgar Evans, the ‘Welsh Giant’

7 Dec

I have just seen the book cover of my book on Edgar Evans. In his picture Edgar looks every inch the ‘Welsh Giant’, a man of whom Wales can be proud.

Sadly, the only memorial to Edgar in Wales was commissioned by Edgar’s widow, Lois Evans. There was no national memorial. This was probably because some London newspapers blamed Edgar for slowing the progress of the British party on their ill-fated return and so causing the deaths of the men he so admired, an ill-founded suggestion that took years to refute.