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;
– Excerpt from from Darwin Day Resolution, Rep. Rush Holt
One of the best things I ever heard my old rocket scientist boss say was that he longed for a Congress that made its decisions based on evidence, rather than ideology. Rush Holt was a research scientist, a physicist, before CD12 sent him to the House. And he has said he’s more interested in the way scientists deal with uncertainty, and evidence and statistical reasoning than the what goes on in the current political debate. I first heard him say that years ago. I haven’t asked him, but I imagine the House is now even more a partisan nightmare for a guy like Holt.
Charles Darwin was also a research scientist, whose 5-year voyage aboard the HMS Beagle as a young naturalist. Darwin was influenced by a Scottish geologist named Charles Lyell, who noticed that developments in rock were in fact an accumulation of tiny changes over vast spans of time. At the time, most Europeans believed that the world was created by God in seven days as described in the Bible. In his voyage to South America and the South Pacific, Darwin observed a rich variety of both animal life and geologic features. Darwin’s breakthrough, in the Galapagos Islands, came when he found finches found nowhere else he’d seen; different varieties in each island, with beaks that seemed to be modified to the different environments on each island. From those observations, developed his theory of natural selection.
Many times over, this has been called the single greatest idea anyone ever had.
Celebrating Darwin is celebrating thinking itself – and study, and science, and evidence. This week, working with the American Humanists Association, Rep. Holt proposed a resolution naming February 12, 2013 as Darwin Day, the anniversary of his birth, to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge.
I can’t imagine anything better. Now imagine such a sensible thing passing in the current Tea Party-pandering House. [Insert natural selection joke here].
BONUS: Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.