Thursday, February 12, 2009
Reframing the Argument
Professor Frame is very erudite in this podcast, and I'm sure we could have a very good chat over a cup of coffee.
One thing he gets wrong is that, at the time of Darwin, most people didn't belive that the world was only 6,000 years old as per Bishop Ussher (to be fair, even Vic Stenger gets this wrong). Since Huttons work in the 18th Century, it was evident that the Earth was much older than 6,000 years old. How old was not clear, but values in the millions of years were bandied about. While at the beigings of the 19th century, the average working person may not have been familiar with this, the yariuos Mechanics Institutes promulgated the latest scientific ideas across all classes. In 1840, the wildy popular "Vestiges of Creation" came out, which had a decided old Earth perspective. Darwin sailed on his voyage with Lyles "Priciples of Geology", an old Earth textbook.
Still, aside from that off note, it's a nice little conversation, have a listen.
For those who "forget" or haven't read the history of scientific discovery two centuries ago I recommend Richard Holme's book The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science.
It covers a key period when the likes of Herschel, Davy, Faraday and Banks (of First Fleet fame) were making key strides in their respective fields.
It also puts Darwin's revolutionary/evolutionary discoveries in its historical context.