This “pilgrimage” is a shared experience organised by humanists to celebrate the simple truth that all Life on Earth is related through evolution.
2013 will be our fourth Trail. It is supported by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and is run with support by the British Humanist Association. Although we claim this as a shared experience for non-religious people; because, by definition, our common origins belong to us all, we warmly extend an open invitation to all people.
Imagine, if you will, the evolutionary Tree of Life. Its profusion of leaves each representing a single species of life on earth. A simple enough analogy, but there is no denying the potent truth sparkling within Darwin’s original sketchbook scribble. A truth that has changed forever our perception of who we are. Our ‘human leaf’ holds on beside all the rest, and yet so many other ‘leaves’ have long since perished, or seem destined to lose their precarious hold all too soon. Indeed, viewing the picture over the fullness of life’s history, we extant species shrink into a highly fortunate but tiny minority of survivors. And survive we have, despite repeatedly being pitted against all the odds, down through the millennia.
The Trail began back in 2010 in response to the International Year of Biodiversity and Darwin’s 150th anniversary the year before. Darwin’s contribution was rightly and properly recognised but is that it? Must we now sit patiently and wait for his 200th?
The Ancestor’s Trail is an attempt to fill this gap through an annual event celebrating ‘our place’ within the biodiversity machine we call evolution. Humanity is always up for a celebration. There already exists a super abundance of annual festivals around the world. They mark all manner of things, from steam rallies to the birth of religious deities. And yet nowhere do we find an annual celebration of our shared origins with all life on earth. Why not? This simply isn’t good enough!
Like all pilgrimages, the Trail is a participatory event. As an overwhelmingly social species, our sense of belonging strikes right to the heart of our very nature, and so, although alone we may start, together we shall gather.
- To annually celebrate our shared origins with all life on earth: Humans celebrate all manner of events and yet no-where do we acknowledge our origins through evolution. Many may question the appropriateness of a ‘celebration’ for such a truth ~ but the Trail aspires to answer this question.
- Because evolution is one big biodiversity machine ~ the Trail aims to promote and raise funds for nature conservation organisations.
- The Trail is a shared experience for non believers, although by definition, everyone is welcome because we all belong, and find our origins within, the same tree of life. We champion this inclusive message through –
Public Engagement with science – without which we would be ignorant of our origins.
The Arts – as an alternative method by which we can grapple with these truths, and because a celebration without the arts isn’t much of a celebration! The arts also extend a welcoming hand to a wider cross section of people.