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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Darwin Day Celebration 2011

"How is it possible to find meaning in a finite world, given my waist and shirt size?" - Woody Allen


Darwin Day Celebration 2011

Charles Darwin remains a towering figure of scientific thought today. It is thus fitting that as humanists we celebrate Darwin’s birthday on the 12th of February. Darwin Day is a celebration of the great man’s work in biology but more than that it is a celebration of the power of rational thought, a core belief that all humanists share.

The Humanist Society (Singapore) is proud to have three distinguished speakers join us in our Darwin Day celebrations, especially Historian of Science and Darwin expert Dr John van Wyhe who will speak on why Darwin gave up on Christianity. In keeping with the Darwin theme, we will serve refreshments associated with Darwin’s life and work.


Saturday, Feb 12, 2011; 3-6pm
381, Toa Payoh Lorong 1
Singapore 319758
(Next to Braddell MRT)


Parking available around the vicinity.

Please RSVP via email ( by 10 Feb OR rsvp via facebook (!/event.php?eid=177897285578870)

Fee: $10 (members of HSS); $15 (non-members) It is now $10 for non-members and $8 for members. Refreshments provided.

To sign up as a member of the Humanist Society (Singapore), please go to and follow the link in the 'Become a member' side box.


1) Why Darwin really gave up Christianity

By Dr John van Wyhe
Description: Charles Darwin’s religious beliefs have long been discussed. But most of what is commonly believed about Darwin and his views of religion is misleading or just false. This talk will reveal the true story of Darwin’s faith.

Speaker: Dr John van Wyhe is a historian of science at NUSand a Bye Fellow at Christ’s College, Universityof Cambridge, who specializes in the life and work of Charles Darwin. Dr van Wyhe has published six books, numerous articles and is the Director of Darwin Online ( the world's most widely used resource on Charles Darwin. He lectures on Darwin and evolution around the world.

Read more about Dr John van Wyhe at

2) What makes a scientific truth

By Dr Mathia Lee

Description: This talk will be about how science is practiced in the real world and how it shapes truth as we believe it.

Speaker: Dr Mathia Lee got her PhD studying how embryos develop at the molecular level. She has since gone on to do research in public health. The longer she stays a scientist, the less she believes in truth.

3) Of Insect French-Ticklers and Sex Bombs: The Role of Sexual Selection in Evolution

by Ang Yuchen

Description:The physical differences between men and women are few in number: body hair, breast development, musculature, and of course the primary sexual organs. Not so, however, in the animal kingdom. Take the male black scavenger fly, who has evolved large French tickler-like brushes on its abdomen to stimulate females during courtship. Or consider the male syllid polychaete worm, who fires off autonomous ‘mini-mes’ that find and swarm with other similar projectiles, exploding in a glorious orgy of sperm and eggs. These and countless other morphological adaptations are the result of sexual selection pressures. Alongside viability selection, aka survival of the fittest, sexual selection is being realised as an important evolutionary force, one that may drive the majority of speciation. In this talk, Yuchen Ang will introduce us to the science of sexual selection, show some stirring insect pornography, and offer exploratory remarks on the human male fixation with all things weenie-shaped.

Speaker: Yuchen is halfway into his PhD candidature at NUS, in the field of evolutionary biology. His research interest is in sexual selection, particularly how it has influenced the evolution of morphology between sexes. In between trekking into remote areas with a net in search of field samples, he spends the majority of his time staring into the tiny world of entomology via a microscope.
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