Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Linnean Society

*Written the day before yesterday*

So, I went to the Linnean Society today. For a meeting. Yup, that is the same meeting where Darwin and Wallace first presented the idea of evolution to the world on July 1, 1858. It is also a place where Darwin and Wallace stare down at you from now-famous portraits.
The meeting was really interesting for a lot of reasons. Here are just some of them:
-I've almost always talked about science and the pursuit of science from a Christian perspective. It was fascinating, and a bit somber, to hear high level discussion about the purpose of science with no higher metanarrative to appeal to for common ground. This really stunted discussion in ways that were totally alien to me. Actually, even in fairly common ways, there were problems that were unfamiliar. For example, a big deal was made by several people about the necessity of not creating a huge distinction between organism and environment, because both are part of a bigger system. They kept saying how even the word "environment" was problematic because it excludes the observer (us) from it as well. In my head, I was thinking, "In a Christian context, we just call the whole thing 'the Creation' and are done with it. Totally not a problem."
-At one point in the meeting, the moderator asked "Is there anyone here who does not agree with the basic theory of evolution?" and absolute silence prevailed. Afterward, a young German scholar, knowing I was a theologian said "Why didn't you speak up?" I ended up on a familiar topic (being a Christian and accepting evolution) from a completely different side than I am used to!
-I also realized I just don't know a lot of about science itself. A day full of unknown terms and graphs of impressive but also impregnable data left me quite exhausted. I really AM a theologian, apparently. Apparently, my questions are theology questions too.
-Victorians knew how to build awesome buildings. Apparently, we have forgotten. And if we had gates like these to go through on the way to learning, we might be more impressed with it.

*Written today*
Yesterday, I went through the British Museum, which was as awesome as always. I am amazed, though, that the best museum in the world can also manage to have the very worst gift shop. OK, so there is one cool gift shop, but everything in there was over 100 pounds, and that was not helpful! But the "average joe" one was not cool.
I also met a Canadian woman, identified by her MEC bag. That felt good.
This is a great country though, and I am really enjoying being here!

I think I am starting to settle in here too. At the very least, I am starting to look instinctively to my right when I am crossing the street. Apparently, all those months in Thailand of training have not gone entirely to waste, since it took me at least a month and a half to get used to the change of direction there!
Tomorrow, I begin the journey out to Exeter, so keep thinking of me, as I finally finish this "transition period" that I count as starting July 28th when I left for Chicago!

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