February 10, 2013
Charles Darwin Day To Be Celebrated February 12
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
February 12, 2013 will be celebrated for many reasons around the world. In America it is President Abraham Lincoln's birthday. For Catholics around the world it is Mardi Gras or Carnival. But for every country on Earth, Feb. 12 is Darwin's Day — a celebration of science, humanity, and Charles Darwin's birthday.
Charles Darwin, father of the theory of evolution and the author of "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," was born February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. In 1831, Darwin joined a five year scientific mission aboard the HMS Beagle to travel to the Galapagos Islands, where his theories of evolution and natural selection were solidified. In 1858, he published his theories, which he had been working on for 20 years. Darwin's book was extremely controversial. The logical extension of Darwin's theories was that humans, homo sapiens, were just another form of animal and as such, evolved. This destroyed the prevailing "knowledge" of how the world was created.
Darwin Day has its origins in both the weeklong Darwin Festival started in 1980 at Salem College, and the first event hosted by the Stanford University Humanist Community in 1995. The original Stanford event was held in April, but was changed shortly after to be "on or around" February 12, Darwin's birthday. The Darwin Day Program was founded in 2000 and has grown to an international series of events to celebrate the vast array of verifiable scientific knowledge available today.
Events will take place all over the world, from Red Bank, New Jersey, to Spain, Italy, Norway, Iran and even Siberia. Movies, music, food and fun are the watchwords of the day, along with a lot of learning. A few examples:
- Red Bank Charter School of Red Bank, New Jersey, is hosting "Designer Babies: What Darwin Couldn't Predict," on February 10. Dr. Michael A. Palladino of Monmouth University will discuss the controversy of designer babies, genetic diagnosis, and the ethical implications of these technologies.
- The Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Siberia is hosting their fourth annual Darwin Day celebration with a public lecture, a poetic eulogy, and a performance of "Hey, Charlie, welcome back," on Feb. 12.
- Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, will be hosting Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network. Miller will be discussing the efforts being made to combat the creationist revisionaries on the Texas State Board of Education on Feb 12.
- The Caffe Letterario in Rome, Italy, will host "Orgasm and Prejudice: A Lecture about Women's Sexuality between Ideology and Evolutionary Science." Ranieri Savadorini, a science journalist and Federica Turriziani Colonna, a science philosopher, will give the lecture.
In January of this year, Rush Holt (D-New Jersey) introduced House Resolution 41. The bill is designed to "express the House's support of designating February 12, 2013, as Darwin Day, and its recognition of "Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge."
Holt commented, "Only very rarely in human history has someone uncovered a fundamentally new way of thinking about the world — an insight so revolutionary that it has made possible further creative and explanatory thinking. Without Charles Darwin, our modern understandings of biology, ecology, genetics, and medicine would be utterly impossible, and our comprehension of the world around us would be vastly poorer. By recognizing Darwin Day, we can honor the importance of scientific thinking in our lives, and we can celebrate one of our greatest thinkers.”
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology just as a nearly identical bill introduced by Pete Stark (D-California) was last year. Stark's bill, H. Res 81, made it to the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education before it died.
"I'm glad to see a Congressional proposal to recognize the importance of Darwin and of the teaching of evolution," commented the National Center for Science Education's (NCSE) executive director Eugenie C. Scott, "and I encourage members and friends of NCSE to urge their representatives to support H. Res. 41." She added, "But let's remember that the real action occurs in the classroom, where 13% of high school biology teachers are explicitly advocating creationism and 60% are sadly reluctant to teach evolution in the way that the scientific community understands it. Support H. Res. 41, but don't neglect the many ways to defend the teaching of evolution locally."