Happy Darwin Day!

A Global Celebration of Science and Reason

Evolution: from Earth to the Stars
Evolution: from Earth to the Stars (based on the graphic at DarwinDay.org and a piece of free clip art found at a science education clip art site. Composite by Carolyn Collins Petersen)

This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, the evolutionary biologist who first described biological evolution and natural selection with scientific rigor and insight. The folks over at DarwinDay.org have put together a website to help folks who want to celebrate Darwin’s Day — or just to learn a little bit more about this amazing person.

Why is Darwin’s work important?  He set the bar high for scientists of all disciplines — collecting data, analyzing what he found, and then proposing a set of ideas about what the data told him that tell us today where we came from and how life evolved on this planet — and why it evolved.  His work, published as “The Origin of Species” is one of the most important pieces of scientific work ever published.  He may not have intended to have his work stand for science and reason (and openness to new ideas in the face of entrenched fundamentalism), but today it does.  There are people who don’t like Darwin’s work, don’t agree with it, and argue against it on theological reasons. But, none of them has ever brought any scientific data up that disproves what Darwin found in nature. Many have tried, but their data haven’t withstood reasonable scientific scrutiny.  And, the scientific method is what reasonable and thinking people use to explain the physical processes that affect everything that happens in the universe.

So, celebrate Darwin’s birthday today and do a little reading about what he did and stood for.  You’ll be celebrating not just a man’s birthday, but his insights into humanity’s origins — and the institutions of science and reason that bring us his work.

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