November 17, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Darwin Lovers Unite Against ID

Pictures of Darwin looking like a wise guru draped in white hair seem to adorn many articles attacking intelligent design.  With 2009 being the Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of The Origin, Bruce H. Weber in Nature remarked, “Impending anniversaries and the trial over ‘intelligent design’ make this a good time to revisit Darwin.”  Here are a few examples of recent articles from scientific journals and news sources lifting up the visage of Charles Darwin as a standard against I.D.

  • Darwin on Display:  Ker Than got a private tour of the new “Darwin” exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History and reported his experiences on LiveScience.  “‘Darwin’ will be the most comprehensive exhibit ever mounted on the British naturalist, whose ideas transformed biology and sparked a religious debate that is playing out in courtrooms, statehouses and school board meetings across the United States,” he wrote, filling the article as usual with attacks against ID.  Than’s second article on LiveScience described his preview before the exhibit opens Nov. 19.  A portrait of “the white-bearded sage” is prominently placed at the top of both articles.
  • The Nature of Darwin:  Nature this week highlighted Darwin alongside its news entry, “Day of judgment for intelligent design,”1 that compared the results in Kansas and Dover, Pennsylvania.  Also included in this issue were book reviews of two new anthologies of Darwin’s four major books, and a review of a book about the evolution of human language that begins with a discussion of Darwin’s views on the subject.  There was also a review of an art exhibit in Amsterdam about animals, with the comment, “Charles Darwin changed the way animals were viewed in art.”
  • Implied Darwin:  Science2 had no Darwin portraits this week, but discussed “teaching evolution” in a news item contrasting Dover and Kansas.  Constance Holden noted that the margin of victory for the slate of 8 Democrats who defeated the Dover incumbents was extremely narrow.  A photo contrasted two billboards, one for the incumbents and one for the challengers, neither of which mentioned the evolution issue.  She quoted a pundit who said, “The bottom line is that nearly half of the community still feel that an alternate perspective to evolution should be presented to high school students.”  The new board members are aware of that, and are apparently not making evolution a frontline issue.  Meanwhile, back in Kansas, board member Steve Abrams faced his critics in what Tom Magnuson called an “absolute must read” – an editorial in Education News explaining why the critics have no case.

1Geoff Brumfiel, “Day of judgment for intelligent design,” Nature 438, 267 (17 November 2005) | doi:10.1038/438267a.
2Constance Holden, “Teaching Evolution: Antievolutionists Win One in Kansas, Lose Eight Seats in Dover,” Science, 18 November 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5751, p. 1105, DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5751.1105a.

Dear Old Darwin is more than just a historical figure to the Darwin Party.  He is part father figure, part exalted leader, and part god.  The various tribes are gathering in earnest, doing the Ghost of Charlie Dance to drive out the ID invaders.  The invaders, however, are not trying to deprive them of their heritage.  They just want an honest powwow instead of terrorism.

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