Monday, April 22, 2019

"Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation"

I love antique books, and during the last few years I've been collecting a few notable science books from the nineteenth century. I like to write about them on this blog, teaching myself many new things in the process.

Here is a book set the stage for Darwin! Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation was an anonymously published book of natural history from 1844. It was a best seller, said to have even been read by Lincoln! According to the author--eventually revealed to be Robert Chambers--all thing sin existence developed from earlier forms through what we would now call transmutation or evolution. Although his science (and racist view of humans) are deficient, his notions of development of species and natural law, that were created but not necessarily guided by Providence, were influential at a time when similar theories by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck were not held in high scientific regard.

The book caught the attention of young Darwin, well ahead of his Origin of Species. He was already developing his hypotheses about special development, and because of the popular responses to Vestiges, he was able to foresee some of the controversies that would greet his own work.

Good ol' Wikipedia has a summary of the book's arguments and history of publication:

Heartwarming Memory

Shopping on eBay, as I often do, I noticed this thermometer for sale.

Sometimes small things warm your heart, and in this case, I thought of all the Farm Service signs that were common around the countryside where I grew up.  Plus, the Illinois communities Olney, Newton, and Lawrenceville were places Dad visited during his delivery routes.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter History

All kinds of interesting historical information about the ceremonies and customs of Easter, which of course is celebrated today in the Western churches, and next Sunday in the Eastern churches.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Columbine Anniversary

It's the 20th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School. I remember that I was just pulling up to the parking lot at Indiana University Southeast, to teach my undergrad New Testament class, when the news came on the radio.

Here is an interesting interview of Columbine-area pastors who reflect on that day and the aftermath:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

David Brion Davis, Historian of Slavery

Obituary of historian David Brion Davis, who wrote, “We must face the ultimate contradiction that our free and democratic society was made possible by massive slave labor.”

Notre Dame and Al-Aqsa

I'm not making any equivalency or contrast in these tragedies, but it's so sad that the fire Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem also had a fire yesterday, with less damage than Notre Dame, in the roof of the prayer room. Al-Aqsa is the third holiest place in Islam, after the Ka'ba in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. As we've been seeing, too, in the burning of African American churches, houses of worship and prayer are deeply meaningful to their respective communities, and in their historical connections as well, which differ depending on the structure. Their damage or destruction is heartbreaking. (Again, I'm not making equivalencies, just thinking out loud generally about different experiences of emotional trauma within religious communities.)  

Monday, April 1, 2019

Ghost Signs: St Louis

Old 66: Gravois Rd. and Tucker Blvd.