"Whereas the teaching of creationism in some public schools compromises the scientific and academic integrity of the United States education systems..." - an excerpt from Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) Darwin Day Resolution.
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.
In a statement from the American Humanist Association, Holt lauded Darwin's legacy, calling him one of our "greatest thinkers."
“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," Holt said. "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."
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 New Jersey's 12th District sent him to Congress. 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, and spent five years 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.
I can't imagine anything better than an official Darwin Day. Now imagine such a sensible thing passing in the current Tea Party-pandering House. [Insert natural selection joke here].
Unfortunately, the resolution now goes to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, where members like Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), will decide its fate. Keep in mind, Broun called evolution and the big bang "lies straight from the pit of hell."
BONUS: Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species' chances of long-term survival.