I've just got back from the Darwin, Humanism and Science one-day conference at Conway Hall. It was more a series of lectures than what I would call a conference. The highlight of the day for me was the introductory speech by Richard Dawkins in which he took the famous last paragraph of Origin of Species as his theme and wove eloquent variations on it line by line.
There were then two lectures about the attempts of young-earth creationists to subvert the teaching of science, and in particular evolutionary biology. James Williams of Sussex University advocated the teaching of evolution from an earlier age to avoid young minds being filled with misconceptions that are difficult to overcome at a later stage.
Two, more philosophical, talks covered the difficulty of teaching evolution, caused in the first place by its non-intuitive nature and secondly by its supposed implications for morality. To counter the charge of immorality levelled at Social Darwinism, Michael Schmidt-Salomon advocated "Evolutionary Humanism" as a worldview, which he traced back to Julian Huxley.
The last talk, by Babu Gogineni of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, warned us against the rising fundamentalism of followers of the Hindu religion.
A. C. Grayling closed the day with some thoughts on Humanism and Science which he connected to C. P. Snow's "Two Cultures" lecture given 50 years ago.
An irritation throughout the day for me was the presence of a simultaneous translation booth at the back of the hall which was not adequately soundproofed. I had to struggle to listen to the speaker and ignore the translator.