I enjoy all holidays, and other days in between for that matter, but some special occasions inspire particularly good thoughts about an honoree whose life is recalled and celebrated.
Two of my favorite holidays are August 11 and July 18.
On August 11 in 1833, Robert Green Ingersoll was born in Dresden, NY. Not many Americans save those of the most ardent secular persuasive recognize this occasion as a holiday, take the day off and raise a toast in honor of “The Great Agnostic,” a colossal REAL wellness pioneer.
But I do. For me, August 11 is a holiday when I take the day off and toast the occasion.
Even fewer people take off, toast or revere July 18, but for me it’s one of the biggest holidays of all. And why not? After all, it’s my birthday.
I celebrate numerous other special days, particularly February 12, December 2, January 25 and July 27. The first of these dates, February 12, is the birthdate of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin (1809 - what a day for humanity); the latter three dates the arrival days of my daughter, son and wife.
I’ll give Abraham Lincoln his due, no doubt of that. But Charles Darwin was special in a different and equally positive way, and unlike Lincoln, does not get nearly enough attention.
Many men and women of a scientific bent credit Charles Darwin for making the greatest advance of the 19th century. Paradoxically, many, and you know who they are, vilify Charles Darwin for that reason - they simply cannot reconcile the creation myth with the reality of Darwin’s great discovery.
A CONGRESSIONAL RESOLUTION
Tuesday is Darwin’s 204th birthday. A bill (House Resolution 41) has been introduced in the Congress “expressing support for designation of February 12, 2013, as Darwin Day and recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.” It reads as follows:
* Whereas Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by the mechanism of natural selection, together with the monumental amount of scientific evidence he compiled to support it, provides humanity with a logical and intellectually compelling explanation for the diversity of life on Earth;
* Whereas the validity of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is further strongly supported by the modern understanding of the science of genetics;
* Whereas it has been the human curiosity and ingenuity exemplified by Darwin that has promoted new scientific discoveries that have helped humanity solve many problems and improve living conditions;
* Whereas the advancement of science must be protected from those unconcerned with the adverse impacts of global warming and climate change;
* Whereas the teaching of creationism in some public schools compromises the scientific and academic integrity of the United States education systems;
* Whereas Charles Darwin is a worthy symbol of scientific advancement on which to focus and around which to build a global celebration of science and humanity intended to promote a common bond among all of Earth's peoples; and
* Whereas February 12, 2013, is the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 1809 and would be an appropriate date to designate as Darwin Day: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives
(1) supports the designation of Darwin Day; and
(2) recognizes Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge.
The Congress would do the nation proud if House Resolution 41 passed unanimously.
SUPPORT FOR DARWIN DAY
A few years ago, a New York Times column contained this summary of Charles Darwin’s legacy: “By the time Darwin died in 1882, he was recognized as one of England's greatest scientists and was buried in Westminster Abbey. By then, most biologists had come to agree with Darwin that species shared a common ancestry. But many rejected natural selection, preferring other kinds of mechanisms to drive evolutionary change. It was not until twentieth-century biologists uncovered DNA that they were able to confirm the reality of natural selection, by discovering how it worked on the level of molecules. (Carl Zimmer, (February 10, 2009.) There is speculation that the Republican Congressman from Georgia’s 10th Congressional District. Representative, Paul Broun may not support the resolution. Represen
tative Broun recently told the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet that “all that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang theory, all that is lies, straight from the pit of hell. Evolution is one of those lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
Mr. Broun chairs a House science committee and attends a Baptist church in Athens, Ga. He is a member of the Gideons, the group that places Bibles in hotel rooms. His position makes sense to those who believe in the literal truth of a Bible written when people believed that life began and takes place on a flat, unmoving Earth at the center of a 6,000 year-old universe. Darwin’s theory, in other words, does not comport with Genesis. On the contrary, natural selection explains our existence without so much as a reference to a divine creator.
Americans are probably more familiar with the Tennessee law that sparked the infamous “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925 banning the teaching of human evolution than they are with the nature of evolution itself, as described in “Origin of the Species.”
This, of course, is just one more reason for doing what we can to make this coming Thursday, the 14th of February a celebratory part of the holiday that also honors President Abraham Lincoln.