February 12, 2012
Scientific Community To Observe ‘Darwin Day’ On Sunday
Members of the international scientific community are set to honor the work and accomplishments of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin on Sunday February 12, otherwise known as "Darwin Day".
According to Boston Globe Correspondent Nancy Shohet West, Sunday is the 203rd anniversary of Darwin's birth. Patrick Everett, coordinator of the Concord Area Humanists and organizer of an event in the Massachusetts community told West that occasion, which he dubbed "a celebration of science and reason," had first been observed in 1993. Everett's group planned to mark the occasion with a birthday cake honoring the 19th century British naturalist, a Darwin impersonator, a panel discussion, and a film presentation.
The Boston-area event is one of several planned throughout the U.S. and even worldwide, according to the International Darwin Day Foundation website. Others include a Darwin Week celebration at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, which started last Monday; Arkansas Darwin Day, which kicked off on Friday and features "science-oriented activities for children and families, educational and thought-provoking lectures, and fun social events," and events in Alabama, Montana, Nevada, Texas, Florida, Italy, Brazil, Canada and the UK.
On Saturday, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences commemorated the occasion with a series of lectures, including one focusing on the American oystercatcher, the AP reported. The San Bernardino County Museum was scheduled to feature a Sunday lecture by Paleontology Curator Eric Scott, entitled "What Darwin Got Wrong," Kristina Hernandez of the Redlands Daily Facts wrote on Friday. The University of Iowa was in the midst of a three-day observance focusing on the evolution of birds, Jordan Montgomery of the Daily Iowan reported Friday.
In 2011, more than 800 Darwin Day events were held worldwide, according to Mother Nature News eco-journalist Russell McLendon, and some of the events scheduled for this year had been "expanded to include debates, museum exhibits, film festivals, art shows, essay contests and more."
In an editorial published Tuesday in the Huffington Post, U.S. Representative Pete Stark of California and American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt said that they viewed Darwin Day as "a celebration“¦ to appreciate the advancement of human knowledge and the achievements of science and reason. It must also be a day when we push back against the politicization and undermining of science by ideologues and zealots."
"We owe a debt of gratitude to Charles Darwin, who changed the course of human history by bringing science and reason to the fore," they continued. "His theory of evolution by natural selection not only provided a compelling explanation for the diversity of life on earth, it became the foundation of modern biology, genetics, and medicine. His scientific curiosity and discovery led to breakthroughs that have helped humanity solve innumerable problems and improve our quality of life."
"Modern science is a direct result of the foundation that Darwin set for us. Humanity would be far less healthy, wealthy, and wise about the natural world without his contributions," Stark and Speckhardt added. "On this Darwin Day, we encourage people to celebrate science and human reason and redouble their efforts to improve the world through education, reasoned discourse, and scientific inquiry."
According to the International Darwin Day Foundation, the organization was first known as the Darwin Day Celebration Program and was first founded in 1993, and that the first event honoring Darwin to be directly affiliated with the group was held on April 22, 1995 and was sponsored by the Stanford Humanists student organization. The date was later changed to coincide with the biologist's birthday, and celebrations usually include presentations on Darwin's contributions to scientific theory, discussion groups, movies, meals, and live entertainment.
On the Net:
- Concord Area Humanists
- International Darwin Day Foundation
- College of Charleston
- North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
- San Bernardino County Museum
- University of Iowa
- U.S. Representative Pete Stark
- American Humanist Association