A field-trip course in England on Darwin and evolution

Every year my friend Andrew Berry, a lecturer and student advisor at Harvard, teaches a summer course at Oxford for Harvard undergrads. Its theme is Darwin and evolution, and the best part is that since the course takes place in DarwinLand, he can take the students to various historical sites and show them the science and history behind the Great Idea. I went to Down House, Darwin’s adult home, with Andrew’s course one year, and we were given a tour by none other than Janet Browne, historian of science and author of the wonderful two-volume biography of Darwin (see here and here) that I consider the best account of his life and work. Janet still takes the students to Darwin’s home, and you can see her in the penultimate photo.

Every year Andrew puts up a photo website of that summer’s course for the delectation of the students, and I thought I’d share some of them with you so you could see what the course covers. Go here to see all of the pictures. Andrew has kindly furnished captions for them giving the historical background, and his descriptions are indented. You can enlarge all the photos by clicking on them (twice if you want to eliminate the text).

The program runs for 6 weeks in Queen’s College, Oxford. It is a mix of history of science (the development of evolutionary thinking) and of science (current thinking in evolution).  This photo comes from a previous year during a more typical English summer.  The current heatwave (yes, in England) has scorched the college lawns.
Most of the students (there are 17 in this year’s class) spend the two weeks prior to the program in London, interning at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, on a history of science project dedicated to creating an online archive of the writings of Joseph Dalton Hooker, Victorian botanist, director of Kew, and Darwin confidante.  Pictured is Kew’s extraordinary Palm House (1848), commissioned by Hooker’s father, the previous director, and designed by Decimus Burton.
Hooker traveled on James Clark Ross’s Erebus & Terror expedition to Antartica (1839-43) where his skills as a botanical illustrated were challenged by the local fauna.
Hooker undertook another major expedition, to the E Himalaya (1847-51).  Here is a sample of his exquisite pen-and-water color sketches of the landscape.  Among these is numbered the first known view by a European of Mt. Everest.  http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/02/first_sketch_of_everest_credit.html
Hooker’s ticket, as pall bearer, to Darwin’s funeral, 1882.
Cambridge.  Darwin was a student here (after dropping out of his medical studies at Edinburgh University), and came back here after returning from the Beagle voyage so that he could start processing the specimens he had brought back with him.
Darwin’s undergraduate room in Christ’s College, Cambridge.  This is where he lived when he was the same age as my students.
In the archives of Christ’s College is a wealth of Darwin-related material, including illustrated letters celebrating his undergraduate beetle-hunting excitements.
Christ’s College boasts a statue of the young Charles Darwin (an attempt to re-create Darwin as he was when he was at Christ’s).  He is, as such, inevitably a selfie target.
Behind the scenes in the Cambridge Zoology Museum: bird of paradise specimens collected by Alfred Russel Wallace in the course of his Malay Archipelago journey
The commonplace book of Erasmus Darwin, physician, inventor, poet, evolutionist, and grandfather of Charles Darwin.  Erasmus gave us the best ever synopsis of evolution (from his Temple of Nature, 1803):
Organic life beneath the shoreless waves
Was born and nurs’d in ocean’s pearly caves;
First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass,
Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass;
These, as successive generations bloom,
New powers acquire and larger limbs assume;
Whence countless groups of vegetation spring,
And breathing realms of fin and feet and wing.
Erasmus Darwin lived in Lichfield’s cathedral “close” (ie the community associated with the great church).  He had to be careful in the use of his evolutionary motto, E Conchis Omnia (from shells, everything), for fear of offending his ecclesiastical neighbors
Linnean Society, London, with archivist Isabelle Charmantier.  It was at a meeting here, on 1 July 1858, that the theory of evolution by natural selection was unveiled, though neither of the paper’s authors, Darwin and Wallace, was present.
The Linnean Society possesses the papers and collections of Linneaus himself, the Swedish father of taxonomy.  Here are some of his early notes as he explores ways to categorize and organize nature.
1735: the first edition of Linneaus’s great work, Systema Naturae.  Here he has already grouped humans with primates (“Simia”), though he mistakenly includes sloths (Bradypus) in the group as well.
Revising life.  In later editions of Systema Naturae, Linnaeus had blank pages bound between each printed page and used these to make revisions for subsequent editions.  In his tiny, cramped hand-writing, then we are seeing Linnaeus in the process of revising the organization of living things.
Linnaeus’s specimens.  By definition, most of Linnaeus’s specimens are type specimens — ie the key specimen from which a species was originally described.
Linnaeus’s Lapland expedition note book.  Linnaeus’s reputation was established by his journey into the northern wilds of Scandinavia.  His field note book contains of wealth of biological, geographical and anthropological observation.  His drawing skills, however, left something to be desired.  This is a charming illustration of the preferred local way of carrying canoes.
The room in which Darwin was born, 12 Feb 1809.
Shrewsbury, where Darwin was born and grew up.  The family house, The Mount, built by his father Robert Darwin on a small rise overlooking the town, is now a district tax office, but they generously allow pre-arranged visits by small groups.
(Old) Shrewsbury School.  Darwin attended the local private high school (as a boarder even though the school was less than a mile from his home).  The school has since moved out of the centre of town, and the Darwin’s school building is today the town library.  Darwin’s retrospective assessment of his experience there was not especially positive: “Nothing could have been worse for the development of my mind than Dr. Butler’s school, as it was strictly classical, nothing else being taught, except a little ancient geography and history. The school as a means of education to me was simply a blank.”

Update: the next picture is a close-up of the statue taken by reader Al Lee and just sent along:

In the Shrewsbury School library: Presentation copy of the Origin of Species given to Darwin’s prominent opponent, Richard Owen.  Note that it is dated prior to the publication of the book (24 Nov 1859).
In Darwin’s geological footsteps.  After finishing his undergraduate degree at Cambridge, Darwin traveled to N. Wales with Adam Sedgwick, his geology professor.  Sedgwick was trying to make sense of the sequence of rocks that would later become formalized as the geological column.  In particular he was interested in finding Old Red Sandstone (from the Devonian) on his travels.  This however proved elusive. Darwin visited Cwm Idwal in Snowdonia (ie the mountainous area in the NW of Wales) twice.  First, in 1831, as part of his Sedgwick expedition.  He attempted to interpret the landscape but was defeated by the region’s complexity and his own lack of experience.  He came back after the voyage of the Beagle  when he had read Louis Agassiz’s theory of Ice Ages.  He recognized that the best place he could go to to see for himself whether or not these new fangled ideas were sound was Cwm Idwal.  He was convinced: “a house burnt down by fire does not tell its story more plainly than did this valley.”
Learning to read the landscape with our guide, Michael Roberts, geologist, historian, and vicar.
Darwin’s Boulders” beside the lake in Cwm Idwal:
Hiking Y Garn, the mountain overlooking Cwm Idwal.
Castel Dinas Bran, above Llangollen.  Another site visited by Darwin and Sedgwick in pursuit of recognizably Devonian deposits.  The hill is crowned with the picturesque ruins of a 13th century Welsh fort.
Fossil hunting.
Oxford University Natural History Museum, June 1860: site of the famous spat between T  H Huxley and Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford.  The exchange is probably somewhat apocryphal, but it has entered popular consciousness as a canonical science vs. religion moment.  As recounted by historian Frank Sulloway, “Following a lengthy, pro-Darwinian paper, Samuel Wilberforce, the slickly eloquent bishop of Oxford, began a half-hour-long attack on Darwinian theory. With glib lines like “Is it credible that a turnip strives to become a man?,” Wilberforce’s speech met with peals of sympathetic laughter, and his rhetoric hit home. Finally he turned to Huxley, who was seated near him on the speaker’s platform, and asked him whether it was on his grandfather’s or grandmother’s side that he claimed descent from an ape.”  Huxley’s supposed response: “[Asked] if I would rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means and influence, and yet who employs those faculties for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion — I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape.”
Natural History Museum, London, archive.  A drawing by A R Wallace of an Amazonian fish.  That this picture still exists is remarkable.  This was part of the set of materials — specimens, notes, drawings, living animals — that Wallace had with him as he headed back to the UK after four years in the Amazon.  His ship caught fire in the middle of the Atlantic, and Wallace and the crew had to abandon ship precipitously.  Wallace had time to grab one small case of materials from his desk, and this drawing was in it.  It was ten days before Wallace and the crew were rescued.
Darwin (statue) and Wallace (portrait): side by side (OK, with a big gap between them) at the Natural History Museum.
[Photo from previous year, as we have yet to go to Down House this year].  Down House, Kent, where Darwin lived for more than half of his life and where he penned the Origin of Species, the Descent of Man, and more.
[Photo from previous year, as we have yet to go to Down House this year].  Darwin’s “thinking path”, the Sand Walk, where he would stroll and ponder.  I live in hope that my students will have correspondingly significant insights as they walk along the path, but it’s yet to happen. Here they are accompanied by Janet Browne, Darwin scholar and biographer.
Finally, Andrew sent me this photo (taken some years ago when I was a lot pudgier!), also at Down House:
Isn’t that a lovely course? I’d love to take the whole thing, but time prohibits that. Many thanks to Andrew for the photos and captions. I suspect this is the inspiration for the “Jumping at Down House” photo above.

61 Comments

  1. Mrs Arcanum
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    My daughter re-discovered a missing Alfred Russel Wallace Butterfly whilst on a 4 week placement at the Oxford University Natural History Museum some years ago now.

  2. Dave
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Lovely pictures of what must be a wonderful tour for the students. I think the point about Darwin’s youth when he made his key observations is a very valuable one. The standard textbook images of Darwin are photos taken late in life, of an old guy with a bald head and a Gandalf beard. I teach Zoology and Evolution to undergraduate students and I always illustrate it with the painting of Darwin as a young man, to bring home the point to my students that when he set out on the Beagle voyage he was only a year or two older than they are. I hope it might inspire them to believe that the things you do early in life can change the world.

    I know North Wales very well too, so I’m glad to see that the Harvard students get to visit it. If nothing else it shows them that there’s a lot more to Britain than just London and the other big cities.

  3. Posted August 9, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    That looks like an amazing course.

  4. Merilee
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    What a fantastic course!

    • Blue
      Posted August 9, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      ! +10 !

      Blue

  5. Frank Bath
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    A most enjoyable read. Thank you.

    • Glenda Palmer
      Posted August 9, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      +1

  6. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    His drawing skills, however, left something to be desired. This is a charming illustration of the preferred local way of carrying canoes.

    I reacted in the same way the first time I saw that drawing. But mostly because the boat is a bit too small. The drawing is usually, though without reference, titled “Sami carrying his boat”. It looks like a symmetric keeled boat out of wood plank.

    Now it gets more complicated.

    “Canoes” in the usual sense is hard to find in the swedish archeological record. It appears that the oldest boats found in the region are “sewn” by sami [ http://www.samer.se/5477 ]. But they are basically wooden sewn with ligaments.

    At about the time iron spikes reach the region there is a mixing of boat cultures. The southern “eka” has one or two flat truncated ends. But it looks to me like the original sami sewn type could have been as depicted by Linneaus. More likely spiked, but it is hard to tell. I found this image from northern Sweden of yore:

    When you carry an “eka” or small boat the mass of the planks mostly exceed your upper body or at least neck strength. Perhaps not in professional carriers but for people who do it as seldom as possible. This is why you can see these images of people carrying them bent over, on their back, and balancing them roughly in the center of the boat. (Unfortunately I cannot find another image, but I have seen it done.)

    So if you imagined Linneaus was drawing a man without body, that was likely not the case and the leg proportions were rather correct. But the body would hardly fit the small boat he drew. Of course it could not have been much larger either or one person could not carry it.

  7. Posted August 9, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    That is a course to remember for a lifetime. I really envy those kids.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    “Cwm Idwal”

    Dang, Welsh people, buy another vowel.

    • Dave
      Posted August 9, 2018 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      “w” is a vowel in Welsh, pronounced roughly “oo”, so cwm = “coom” (meaning “valley”).

    • Posted August 9, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Yeah. How do you pronounce that? Or do you?

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 11, 2018 at 6:12 am | Permalink

        You pronounce it “new tent pegs”. (I tried camping up there one frrrrrigid night but couldn’t drive my tent pegs into the frozen ground.)

    • David Coxill
      Posted August 9, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      As Edmund Blackadder once remarked “You need half a pint of phlegm in your throat just to pronounce the place names. Never ask for directions in Wales, Baldrick. You’ll be washing spit out of your hair for a fortnight”.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 9, 2018 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        That one really did make me laugh out loud. (Now everyone in the office is staring, asking, hey, what’s so damn funny?)

        Reminds me when a buddy taught me how to say “chutzpah”; I thought he was getting a stray crumb off the back of his tongue.

    • David Coxill
      Posted August 9, 2018 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      They are hoping to turn The Mount into a museum .

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 11, 2018 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      My (Russian) wife said much the same when we were sun-burning in Wales a few weeks ago. If we’d been closer, I’d have taken her to Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch again. She’d have punched me, and I’d have deserved it.

  9. mikeyc
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    What a delight. I wish I could do the course. Thanks for the photo journal.

  10. yazikus
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    I think I’m jealous! That looks like a tremendous trip.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    … this photo (taken some years ago when I was a lot pudgier!) …

    Nice to see the extra pounds didn’t take anything off your vertical leap.

  12. Robert
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Great post. I am pleasantly envious of the students.

  13. Posted August 9, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I hope the students got to see Linnaeus’ pressed fish specimens, which are still preserved in the Linnean Society’s basement rooms. They are gross… Who but a botanist would think to preserve fish by pressing them between paper and drying them? His house must have smelled like hell.

  14. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I was recently in Oxford doing touristy things related to T.S. Eliot, Lewis Carroll, JRR Tolkien, and Inspector Morse. I would have loved to drop in on a bit of this if possible.

    • Merilee
      Posted August 9, 2018 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      I miss Morse and Lewis and Hathaway. Can’t seem to get into Endeavour, the prequel.

  15. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    What a terrific course! Some years ago I had bought & read the first volume of J. Brownes’ biography. I was so swept up in the intricate details that she enlivened so well that I immediately bought and devoured the second volume.

  16. Merilee
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got at least two vol of Browne’s on my shelves, still unread. Too many good books out there😻

    • David Coxill
      Posted August 9, 2018 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Tell me about it.I also have both of Janet Browne’s Darwin books .
      I bought them to take the place of a Darwin Biography that for some reason smelt so disgusting i had to get rid of it.

      • Merilee
        Posted August 9, 2018 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Did it smell of sulfur, lol?

        • David Coxill
          Posted August 10, 2018 at 6:09 am | Permalink

          HAHA ,don’t know what it was ,just knew i could not read it .

  17. Diana Hook
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    How wonderful, and what lucky students!

    Fun bibliographical fact: The inscription in Owen’s copy of the Origin is not in Darwin’s hand, but was written by someone at his publisher’s firm. All known presentation copies of the Origin are like this. Darwin’s handwriting was much, much messier, although not as bad as Huxley’s, which requires almost otherworldly skill to puzzle out.

  18. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    A trip of a lifetime. Absolutely wonderful. I hope these kids appreciate how lucky they are.

  19. Joe Dickinson
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    That does indeed look like a great course. I’ve visited many of those places, but tying it all together in a coherent course wold be much better.

  20. Posted August 9, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Just an additional note: the meeting room shown at the Linnean Society is not actually the room where Darwin and Wallace’s papers were read in 1858. The Linnean Society used to be in a different part of the building. I have heard two conflicting accounts of where that meeting was: (1) in a second floor (“1st floor”) meeting room that is still used, by another scientific society, and (2) in a room that has since been remodeled into bathrooms (WCs). These cannot both be true.

    • Posted August 10, 2018 at 2:07 am | Permalink

      Yes, the Linnean Society’s current location post-dates the 1858 announcement; at the time, the Linn was located in another part of Burlington House that is currently occupied by the Royal Academy of Arts. Supposedly the paper was read in the “Reynolds Room” on the first floor (sensu the Brits) there (now one of the Madejski galleries), and a plaque on the wall there commemorates the event: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7230309@N05/4050410779/
      However, the Linn Soc people have mentioned that there is now some reason to doubt that this was the venue. Maybe the WC hypothesis is right!

  21. Michael Fisher
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    One of Andrew Berry’s photos not shown above is the student’s visit to the Eagle Pub, Cambridge – I assume because it’s where Watson & Crick discovered the “secret of life”. It isn’t mentioned enough that the pub has an “RAF bar” – it was a regular haunt during WWII of aircrew from various nations who burned their markings into the ceiling with petrol lighters – climbing on each other to reach the eight-foot ceiling. Here’s the missing pic [ceiling not shown, but note pictures in background!] & below it a link to a great [& for me moving] article by Dave O’Malley of “Vintage Wings of Canada” which includes pics of the ceiling & more.
    4

    THE ARTICLE HERE

    • Merilee
      Posted August 9, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      What’s with the crossed wrists?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted August 9, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        Good question! I’ve thought about it a while & I think it’s the crossed arms trick as per below.
        BTW Note that all students are on half pints & dressed like ‘normal’ people. Disgraceful.

        • Merilee
          Posted August 9, 2018 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

          Still don’t get it, but I couldn’t get the audio…

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted August 9, 2018 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

            Follow along with annoying smug David below
            Lock your hands as he shows with both thumbs down
            then twist hands as he shows so thumbs are both up
            You will not be able to do it [essential middle step happens in the camera cut away]

      • Posted August 9, 2018 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

        I think they are trying to make double helices….

        • Merilee
          Posted August 9, 2018 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

          I had considered that, Lou. Maybe you’re right (or left?)

        • Posted August 10, 2018 at 2:00 am | Permalink

          Correct! Here my students are celebrating the discovery of the DNA double helix with attempts to emulate its curves. The location is indeed the Eagle pub to which Watson & Crick famously repaired immediately after the breakthrough on a Saturday morning in February 1953. Crick supposedly told anyone who would listen among the pub’s regulars that they had just discovered “the secret of life.”

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted August 10, 2018 at 3:10 am | Permalink

          Nice one Lou – obvious now you say it!

  22. Bat
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    You are retired. You can pretty much arrange your summers as you wish by prioritizing committments around this full course if you really want to. You have always been pretty much your own boss…thats why you persevered with such excellent grades through a phd…and now i would suggest you are totally your own boss. Go to the uk next summer and soak up the whole course.

  23. jaxkayaker
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    That class looks great. I dearly want to visit Down House and Kew Royal Botanical Gardens.

    Regarding Linneaus, I like to tell my students that when you’re famous, only one name is necessary to identify you, like Cher or Prince, but when you’re REALLY famous, only one letter is required, like Linneaus, who is identified as the describing author of many plant species by merely the letter “L.”

    • loren russell
      Posted August 9, 2018 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Andrew for sharing these photos and thanks Jerry for posting them. I’ve been to just a few of these sites, but all just resonate! And students getting one degree of separation from Linnaeus, Hooker, Sedgwick, Wallace, etc. The wonder of discovery and general intellectual openness and honesty in 19th C science! [Politics not so much, see Wilberforce.]

      And the sad fact that millions of American students never hear the word evolution outside of church…

      This, BTW, is the kind of content that brought me to WEIT. I hope more readers are inspired to contribute.

  24. bric
    Posted August 10, 2018 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    I know this will come across as elderly grumpy pedantry, but it’s now 53 years since Downe ceased to be in Kent and became part of the London Borough of Bromley. Bromley has tried to make it welcome; there is a fine Darwin mural in the Market Square, the local Electoral Ward is named for Darwin, and he is counted amongst the local heroes (along with H G Wells, David Bowie and Billy Idol).

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 10, 2018 at 3:32 am | Permalink

      And that bedswerver, wandought & jerk about town Nigel Farage…

    • David Coxill
      Posted August 10, 2018 at 6:15 am | Permalink

      Bromley ,YUK ,dreadful place .

      • Posted August 10, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        The outer boroughs of London particularly on the south and east side are somewhat dreary but in Bromley’s case Down House is surely a redeeming feature?

  25. Posted August 10, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    An absorbing sequence of pics. Thanks.

  26. Posted August 10, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I have enjoyed helping on this course since 2005 and taking people round my favourite part of the world i.e Snowdonia. To some there must be something odd that Andrew recruited a Welsh country vicar to help on the Snowdonia part of the course!! My main regret is that I would love two weeks to cover everything around Shrewsbury and in Snowdonia including as ascent of Snowdon. Here is my blog on the 2017 visit which centres on Darwin’s Boulders. This includes references to my papers on Darwin’s visits in 1831 and 1842 https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/darwins-boulders/

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 10, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Vicar Michael

      I’m reading your link – good pics! 🙂

      I was drawn to the semi-ironic “4004” tagged onto your name given your dislike of creationism. It’s a shame that Ussher’s scholarship was hijacked by the deplorable evangelical nutters of recent decades. I have a couple of questions for you if I may?

      [1] Was there anyone in Ussher’s day who considered the Earth to be very much older based on observation [rather than religious scholarship]? I was thinking Steno, but I can’t find out if he ever estimated Earth’s age.

      [2] What’s the name of the pub in Shrewsbury, or perhaps somewhere else in Shropshire, famously associated with palaeontologists, geologists & other bashers of rocks? I believe it has fossils on display AND it serves beer! I want to visit, but can’t track down the name of the place. It was mentioned in some evolution book [by someone like Richard Fortey] & there was a photo too.

      Thank you

      • Posted August 10, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        I touch on it this blog which is a book chapter I did in 2000. At the end of the 17th century various were working towards and older earth and more in the 18th, They had no official opposition from the church. https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/from-4004bc-to-13-5-billion-years/

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted August 10, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          I just read your article & it opened my eyes to this:

          “…he is remembered for his date of creation – 4004 BC. Despite popular representations, he did not arrive at this figure from arithmetic applied to dates of patriarchs and other Old Testament figures. To Ussher there were six Chiliastic days of 1000 years apiece followed by the seventh day of the Millennium. There were four Chiliaistic days before Christ and thus Creation took place in 4004 BC, on the night before 23 October. Adam was created on 28 October. This date causes amusement to many, but the rest of Ussher’s chronology was very sound for the 17th century as he was a careful scholar”

          I’m horrified thinking about at all the books I’ve read that have misrepresented Ussher’s methods.

          Thank you for the info.

      • Posted August 10, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        My use of 4004 is ironic. I don’t know the pub so can’t help.

  27. Posted August 10, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Peddling and Scaling God and Darwin and commented:
    A good account of the American biologist (and atheist) Jerry Coyne on this years Harvard Summer School on Dawin based in Oxford. For three days they have to enjoy my presence as I show them the dleights of Dariwn in Shropshire and above all in Snowdonia.

    I have been lucky to help on this course since 2005.

  28. Posted August 11, 2018 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Wonder if they saw the 7 foot tall, solid bronze statue of Wallace at London’s Natural History Museum. This magnificent piece by sculptor Anthony Smith, was donated to the Museum by the Wallace Memorial Fund in 2013. At first the Museum placed it outdoors – looking up at the Darwin Centre 2 building. They then moved it to an obscure and little visited corner of the second floor balcony above the Central Hall. I guess that nicely mirrors Wallace’s place in history..


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