Friday, April 02, 2010

Atheist in paradise

A major highlight of my trip was my visit to the Natural History Museum of London. I hadn't intended to visit this museum--I thought I would go to the Victoria & Albert--but when I passed this amazing building, where each bit of architectural detail celebrated animal life, I had to go in.

A close-up of detailing between two windows:









I'm very glad I did. Every inch of this museum celebrates evolution and its first champion, and every inch was designed to astonish visitors with the grandeur and majesty of the natural world. Here's a view of the main lobby, shot from above:

And a close-up of the beautiful statue of Charles Darwin:


I did not feel simply as if I was inside a place of learning, but a place of celebration, of devotion, of inspiration. (I got pretty teary-eyed.) And on top of it all, the place was filled with remarkable specimens. The jaw-bone of the first t-rex ever discovered! Fossils discovered by the remarkable Mary Anning herself! Taxidermied passenger pigeons and dodos! I just sort of stumbled around, babbling to myself.

When I got done with my tour (cut short because of the need to meet some great people), I felt uplifted and full of joy. I have to imagine it's how religious folks will feel tomorrow, when they celebrate the biggest day of their calendar. I'm just glad I can get that feeling from the beauty and wonder of science, and the minds and creatures that fill the world around me. And I thank places like the Natural History Museum for helping me tap into that wonderful emotion.



3 comments:

thedispersalofdarwin said...

I visited NHM in October, a very cool experience for any Darwin fan:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7230309@N05/sets/72157622739292036/

Wendy Wagner; said...

Wow, your photo album is amazing. It really is awe-inspiring, isn't it?

Also, the gift shop is divine. I bought THE BEST t-shirt (has Darwin's tree of life with his famous words "I think" scrawled across the top). And I got some fun stuff for the fam, too!

thedispersalofdarwin said...

Even more awe-inspiring was visiting Down House (on that same London trip) & hanging out in Darwin's greenhouse:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7230309@N05/4077616633/in/set-72157622740205422/