February 13, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Happy Darwin Day?

Humanists hope to have a new international holiday by 2009: Darwin Day.  (Feb. 12 was Darwin’s birthday as well as Abe Lincoln’s, so it’s already set aside as a holiday in America, but promoters want this to be an international event.)  According to Robert Evans’ story in Reuters, the British Humanist Association believes such a commemoration “would send out a signal that science matters in an era when pseudo-science and fear of science seem to be gaining ground.”  For their part, the humanists have their own fear: creationism.  “It is very, very scary,” said a leader of the Darwin Day movement in America.  “Creationism is spreading further and further.”
    As evidence for anti-Darwinist sentiments, they point to British Prime Minister’s recent tolerance for a creationist college, advances in creationist and intelligent design movements in the United States under Bush’s administration, and polls that show 45% of Americans believe a personal God created all life within 10,000 years.  They are also alarmed at the rise of Islamic and Hindu opposition to Darwinism.
    The invasion is getting too close for comfort.  Evans claims that “In a church a stone’s throw from the Darwin Research Station on Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands — where the biologist gathered much of his evidence for evolution — fiery evangelical sermons on hellfire awaiting unbelievers are on the daily menu.”  In seeming counterattack, Peter Backus at Space.Com has honored the alternative deity (see 02/12/2004 commentary) with the ultimate honor, naming everything that is, ever was, and ever shall be, “Darwin’s Universe.”

Darwin Day–what a great idea.  It would be a perfect occasion to teach people important concepts.  Let’s start now thinking up activities that could become favorite family traditions.  Darwinians could wear Selfish Jeans, light Cambrian explosions, have asteroid fights and go extinct.  Here is a proposed list of Top 10 Darwin Day Activities:

  1. Have battles with slime and play King of the Hill.
  2. Blindfold monkeys and watch them type Shakespeare.
  3. Have a Darwin beard contest with lady judges to test sexual selection.
  4. Decorate lizards with feathers and drop them from trees.
  5. Vote on community Darwin Awards.
  6. Sponsor a Just-So Storytelling Contest.
  7. Hold a Planet of the Apes and Survivor movie festival.
  8. Play “glue the peppered moth on the tree.”
  9. Sing Evolution Songs around a campfire fueled with creationist books.
  10. Test survival of the fittest: debate a creationist.

Send in your suggestions: write here.  One reader has sent in this prize-winner: “a scavenger hunt.  Item #1: a true, transitional fossil.  WARNING!  Photos of the participants of this activity may end up on the back of a milk carton.”

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