Sunday 19th September, 6-8pm
Venue: MB550, Aston University Booking
This year is the 150th anniversary of the discussion of Darwin’s evolutionary theory between Wilberforce and T.H. Huxley held at our Festival in 1860. Since the late 19th century unhistorical accounts of this event have figured prominently in the polemics surrounding the relationship of science and religion. Explore how these myths were born and are perpetuated today.
Professor Frank James, Royal Institution – Why is the Huxley-Wilberforce ‘debate’ so well known?
There is an argument which suggests that credit for the historically striking, and yet to be fully explained, phenomenon of the almost complete collapse of Christianity in Western Europe over the last century is claimed by scientists and that most theologians are more than content for the blame to lie there rather than with themselves. Unable to appreciate when they are on the winning side, some scientists recently have deliberately reopened the conflict in the course of which they have misused history and handed themselves an undeserved victory. This talk will look at the role of the Huxley-Wilberforce and other myths and consider more likely sources for the decline of Christianity.
Professor Michael Reiss, Institute of Education – The Huxley-Wilberforce ‘debate’: the legacy for schools
School science lessons make little use of the history of science and when they do, with rare exceptions, they make use of it poorly. This talk examines whether or not school science lessons should take account of issues to do religion and if so, how. I argue that there are stronger arguments in favour of school science lessons addressing religion than many science teachers suppose.
Frank James is Professor of the History of Science at the Royal Institution. His main research concentrates on the physical sciences in the nineteenth century and how they relate to other areas of society and culture, for example art, business, media, the military, technology and religion where he has published a detailed study of the Huxley-Wilberforce event. His Michael Faraday: A Very Short Introduction will be published by OUP in November. He has been President of both the Newcomen Society for the History of Engineering and Technology and the British Society for the History of Science.
Michael Reiss is co-editor of Teaching About Scientific Origins: Taking Account of Creationism.