Charles Darwin Day

DDay2015_PromoPoster_85x11_thumb“I do not believe the Darwinian theory or explanation of evolution. There are several reasons. One of them is, that if that theory were true, then a struggle for life would always be going on among the members of every species; where in our species at any rate, no such struggle is observable.” David Stove, Darwinian Fairytales, p. 77

“If the members of every species are always engaged in a struggle for life with one another, and if human beings were selfish and non-moral animals at first, how could even the least little bit of morality or of altruism have escaped being eliminated by natural selection?

“If it is an insoluble problem for Darwinism how even the least bit of altruism could survive, then think of the scale of the problem for Darwinism which is presented by the advanced societies of the present day. In these, altruism has not only survived, but spread like wildfire, and even assumed monstrous proportions.

“If only one had the power of language that would be needed to do justice to this colossal ‘scientific’ farce!” Ibid., 150, 151

”After lobbying from the Delaware Atheist Meetup and the American Humanist Association, Democratic Gov. Jack Markell has declared Feb. 12 ‘Charles Darwin Day,’ the first state in the country to formally mark the occasion, and a move is afoot to get the federal government to come on board.” Jonathan Soch

Darwin Day a win for atheists

Jonathan Soch, The Washington Times, February 15, 2015, p. 24

He may be the closest thing to a pa­tron saint for atheists, and now America’s nonbelievers want the government to get him his due.

After lobbying from the Delaware Atheist Meetup and the American Humanist Association, Democratic Gov. Jack Markell has declared Feb. 12 “Charles Darwin Day;’ the first state in the country to formally mark the occa­sion, and a move is afoot to get the federal government to come on board.

Thursday would be the 206th birth­day of the famed 19th century naturalist, formulator of the theory of evolution and religious skeptic. While much of the international push to recognize Darwin Day focuses on his scientific achieve­ments and the need to encourage scien­tific and technical learning today, much of the energy for the campaign is com­ing from groups that focus on Darwin’s religious views.

“I’m completely thrilled with the proclamation,” said Charles Dyke, a member of the Delaware Ameist Meetup, which lobbied the state to recognize the day. “I think that it’s kind of groundbreak­ing from what I understand.”

Delaware Atheist Meetup, an affiliate of the Delaware Association for Human­ism, led the push for the Darwin Day proclamation’, submitting a request to state Rep. Paul Baumbach, a Newark Democrat. The request was made on behalf of the American Humanist Asso­ciation, which since 1993 has led the push for official recognition of the English scientist every Feb. 12.

The governor’s office allows citizens of Delaware and organizations with con­nections in the state to make requests for recognition for a special day, week or month. Mr. Markell’s proclamation cites Darwin’s scientific achievements and contributions to evolutionary theory, saying nothing about Darwin’s religious beliefs.

But Mr. Dyke and his allies see a larger significance nonetheless.

“We live in a society where we tend to think we live in a Christian nation,” said Mr. Dyke, but for him, that isn’t true. Mr. Dyke said the Darwin Day proclamation was one more illustra­tion of a rising acceptance of atheism across the U.S.

The American Humanist Association also praised the Delaware declaration, as well as the reintroduction in the US. House earlier this month of a resolution for the federal government to recognize Feb. 12 as Darwin Day. The AHA website describes the day as an annual opportu­nity to “promote the public education of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and to encourage the celebration of science and humanity.”

“We are very pleased with the [Dela­ware] declaration,” said AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt. “I think that it’s worth giving some focus to Darwin Day so that people can recognize it.”

Delaware is the first state, but several cities, including Omaha and San Diego, haye recognized Charles Darwin Day. In 2013 the Canadian cities of Vancouver

and Regina both proclaimed Feb. 12 as Charles Darwin Day.

This is the fourth straight year that a resolution seeking national recognition of Darwin Day has been introduced on Capitol Hill, with a proposal being introduced in the Senate for the first time this year.

The first Darwin Day resolution was introduced in the House in 2011 by former Rep. Pete Stark, a Cali­fornia Democrat, a onetime board

member for the American Humanist Association and, at the time, the only acknowledged atheist in Congress. Rep. James A. Himes, Connecticut Democrat, reintroduced the proposal earlier this month, and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, also of Con­necticut, introduced the first Darwin Day proposal in that chamber.

Officials at the Secular Coalition for America and its state chapter, the Secu­lar Coahtion for Connecticut, say they worked with Mr. Blumenthal to intro­duce and support the resolution.

“We applaud Sen. Blumenthal for introducing this resolution and encour­age other senators to support it as well,” said Kelly Damerow, the group’s interim executive director. The nonprofit coah­tion advocates for secular government both federally and at a state level.

Although there are no admitted athe­ists in Congress today, recent surveys suggest that the religiously unaffiliated — including atheists and agnostics — are the fastest-growing segment on the American faith landscape.

According to a 2013 poll by the Pew Research Center, just 2.4 percent of Americans surveyed declared them­selves atheists, and another 3.3 percent described themselves as agnostic — both up from the last major poll in 2007. But the number of Americans who said they were “unaffiliated” with any religion also grew between 2007 and 2013 from 15.3 percent to 19.6 percent. In a separate poll, however, Pew reported that as many as 60 percent of Americans believe that “humans and other living things have evolved over time,” while only a third of those polled rejected evolution. The same poll reports that 24 percent of those who believed in some sort of evolution believed that it was guided by a “supreme being.”

The atheist movement has gotten new visibility with top-seHing books by authors such as Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Kitchens celebrating godlessness and the failings of organized religion.

The idea of Darwin as an avatar for atheists is complicated by the fact that his own views on religion and God were ambiguous and changed markedly over time. He was raised a Christian but detailed in his autobiography how his research and theories led him to doubt the Christian story and the existence of God. “Disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete,” he wrote.

Mr. Dyke’s group plans to celebrate Charles Darwin Day on Feb.-12 by host­ing a meeting and reception with a number of speakers from the University of Delaware.

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