Darwin Day Awaits Designation by US Congress

Darwin Day Awaits Designation by US Congress

Dr. Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C — © 2013

Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

“…Darwin Day… signifies the celebration of the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge. The igniting moments in human history when light was brought into our own origins, when understanding that ordinary apes, like Homo, were capable of the extraordinary, of discovering the truth and debunking obscurantism; yet we still struggle to make science the sole guiding star in our survival decisions, the reliable source of concern and joy, the toolkit to plan our departure from Earth –before our Sun in agonizing heat engulfs its nearest orbiting planets– and seek home somewhere else in the cosmos.” 

Above, close up photo of Charles Darwin statue © G. Paz-y-Miño-C. 2010, British Museum of Natural History, London

On January 22, 2013, representative Rush Holt (D) of New Jersey, and seven of his colleagues, introduced bill H.Res.41 to Congress expressing support for designation of February 12 as Darwin Day.

The Congressional Record of the US House of Representatives (p. H437), dated February 12, 2013, reports: 2 p.m. Prayer; approval of the Journal of the last day’s proceedings; Pledge of Allegiance… Darwin Day, among other items.

In one minute, Mr. Holt summarized for the House the purpose of the bill, which was later referred to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology (more on this Committee below).

Why Darwin Day? The bill “whereases” explain:

Charles Darwin 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 an intellectually compelling explanation for the diversity of life on earth.”

“The validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is further strongly supported by the modern understanding of the science of genetics.”

“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.”

“The advancement of science must be protected from those unconcerned with the adverse impacts of global warming and climate change.”

“The teaching of creationism in some public schools compromises the scientific and academic integrity of the United States education systems.”

“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.”

“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.”

Bill H.Res.41, itself, embodies the never-ending battle against irrationalism, the latter vividly present in the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science. Take, for example, last year’s remarks by congressman Paul Broun (R), from Georgia, a physician and member of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology (the very Committee to which the “Darwin Day bill” was referred), who declared: “God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand 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.”

And Mr. Broun went on, as documented in video watched worldwide: “It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.” “You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth.” “I don’t believe that the earth’s but about 9,000 years old.” “I believe it was created in six day as we know them.” “That’s what the Bible says.”

But what shocked me most about Mr. Broun’s remarks at the 2012 Sportsman’s Banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell, Georgia, was not the interactive mood of the audience excitedly identifying with and encouraging the speech to ascend to pulpit climax, but how startled looked the dozens of antlered-and-dead deer-trophies casted on the background which, unlike “deer in the headlights” helpless to the imminent collision with the unseen, seemed almost responsive and eager to stampede.

“…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…” Representative Paul Broun (R) Georgia, physician and member of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Ironically, the quadrupeds themselves symbolize evolution by natural and sexual selection, magnificent concepts explained to the Victorian public by Darwin on The Origin of Species (1859) and the Descent of Man (1871).

Darwin reasoned about antler evolution: “With stags of many kinds the branching of the horns offers a curious case of difficulty; for certainly a single straight point would inflict a much more serious wound than several diverging points.” “The suspicion has therefore crossed my mind that they may serve partly as ornaments. That the branched antlers of stags, as well as the elegant lyrated horns of certain antelopes, with their graceful double curvature, are ornamental in our eyes, no one will dispute. If, then, the horns, like the splendid accoutrements of the knights of old, add to the noble appearance of stags and antelopes, they may have been partly modified for this purpose, though mainly for actual service in battle.”

Image above from Darwin, C. R. 1871. The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. London: John Murray. Volume 1. 1st edition.

Indeed, Darwin Day –now awaiting action by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology— signifies the celebration of the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge. The igniting moments in human history when light was brought into our own origins, when understanding that ordinary apes, like Homo, were capable of the extraordinary, of discovering the truth and debunking obscurantism; yet we still struggle to make science the sole guiding star in our survival decisions, the reliable source of concern and joy, the toolkit to plan our departure from Earth –before our Sun in agonizing heat engulfs its nearest orbiting planets– and seek home somewhere else in the cosmos. — © 2013 by Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C. all rights reserved

Related Articles:

Rejection of science threatens to be epidemic

Massachusetts Gets an A- in Science Standards

All History is Black History – Editorial The Standard Times – March 2, 2011

“Theory of Evolution” versus “Concept of Evolution”

Interesting Site: ”Darwin’s Notebook”

“…A team of hip-hop and contemporary dancers injected life into the still artifacts at a museum… in a show called “Darwin’s Notebook” held at the University of Cambridge Museum of Zoology ” (Source Science Magazine: click on image below for details).

DarwinAsModernDarwin

Darwin’s Image Credit: Ben Swift/Nonsinthetik, from Hip-Hoppin’ Through Darwin’s Theories



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