Darwin Day: Feb. 12, 2013 set to celebrate the creator of the idea of evolution

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If Charles Darwin were alive today, he’d be celebrating his 204th birthday.

However, millions of years of evolution have prevented humans from living that long. Still, that doesn’t stop those of us who are alive today from celebrating the man and his work.

Evolution is the basis for all modern biology. It is the central tenet, the organizing theme, the trunk from which all branches grow. It has changed considerably since the early days when Darwin (and his contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace) first proposed the idea that species change over time. They didn’t even have an idea behind the mechanism for it at the time, but that came eventually. We now have a far better understanding of genetics, and how random mutations can lead to gradual change for adaptation.

For biology, Darwin is the founder in much the same way Newton or Galileo was for physics. Things have changed, improved, but the root idea is still there, and has grown—you might even say evolved—since.

Because of this, there has been an informal movement over the years to declare February 12 as Darwin Day. I think that’s a fine idea. A lot of folks are taking the opportunity to throw various events, like art contests and biology lectures.

Written By: Phil Plait
continue to source article at slate.com

19 COMMENTS

  1. The image of Darwin looking at an ape is, to me, an iconic representation of evolution and is an inspired choice for the reverse of the coin.

    I’m not so sure about their decision to give the Queen gills, though…

  2. “Feb. 12, 2013 set to celebrate the creator of the idea of evolution”

    Darwin came up with natural selection as the mechanism of adaptive evolution, but many prior biologists suspected evolution of some form occurred, including his grandfather Erasmus.

  3. In celebration I had a cream tea with my local humanist group after visiting the beautiful Natural History Museum in Tring Hertfordshire.

    The museum was inaugurated by Walter Rothschild and is superbly curated, with all the Victorian cabinets and display units stiill in mint condition, and although a special booking needs to be made to see them, it holds the famous collection of finches.

    Three cheers for Charlie!

  4. In reply to #9 by Nodhimmi:

    “first proposed the idea that species change over time”Was it not the Greeks who first realised this?

    I think it was one of Epicurus’s ideas, many of which are still relevant twenty three centuries later, thus putting Christianity somewhat in the shade and leaving Islam absolutely nowhere.

  5. Will Darwin one day be regarded as England’s “greatest citizen” by what becomes of collective human history??????? Will Lincoln one day be regarded as the U.S.’s “greatest citizen” by what becomes of
    this same collective human history????

    A fascinating question.

    If so, February 12, 1809 will remain a date of marvelous coincidence.

    Only time will tell. But my extended sense of common sense tells me there’s a great deal more Science
    and Politics to come which will afford plenty of opportunity for greatness. The only reservation I have
    about this line of thought is that both future Political and Scientific accomplishments are probably more likely
    to be collective, and not so attributable to any single, individual, effort.

  6. What an absolutely terrible choice of words used in the headline. I am sure it is not by accident, but…….. It just stinks on many levels. First, he did not create the idea. The idea had been around a very long time. He had at least one contemporary who was also on the precipice of publishing results — (they even mention Wallace). A second issue is that in this case Darwin observed and explained. He did no creating, he organized what was referred to as “the long argument”. His logic is unassailable and his evidence has been added to every day for 150+ years. Third, it is exasperating to constantly have this creation horseshit tied to evolution.

    I get it, you try to invent a headline that is provocative, and I guess my reaction to this one proves that the author (or editor) has accomplished their goal. So, it may be moot to voice an objection, but enough already.

    BTW, the rest of it was pretty damn good. I especially like the statement “evolution is the basis for all modern biology”. Great stuff.

  7. I just had to share this comment from the source article (not my own, unfortunately):

    I want to suggest a new argument that Young-Earth Creationists (YECs) can use: “Stupidity can’t possibly be considered a positive survival trait. So if evolution were real, how do you explain the fact that we YECs are still around?”

  8. Evidently it is “safety in numbers….”

    In reply to #17 by AsylumWarden:

    I just had to share this comment from the source article (not my own, unfortunately):

    I want to suggest a new argument that Young-Earth Creationists (YECs) can use: “Stupidity can’t possibly be considered a positive survival trait. So if evolution were real, how do you explain the fact that we YECs are still around?”

  9. In reply to #18 by crookedshoes:

    In reply to #17 by AsylumWarden:

    I just had to share this comment from the source article (not my own, unfortunately):

    I want to suggest a new argument that Young-Earth Creationists (YECs) can use: “Stupidity can’t possibly be considered a positive survival trait. So if evolution were real, how do you explain the fact that we YECs are still around?”

    Evidently it is “safety in numbers….”

    That certainly works when the lost are in a group rather than scattered!

    It reminds me of an occasion when a group of mountaineering novices decided “democratically” that they knew the way down better than, and in the opposite direction, to the one I had suggested.
    When I decided to accompany them, one turned and said, “So you agree now that your route was the wrong way.”

    I replied, “No! – I thought that when I have to organise a rescue, I could avoid the part where I have to search the hills looking for you!” Eventually the brains caught on that they were heading UP into the high mountains, and with some directions from me, they turned around and went back to where they had insisted on taking the wrong turn.

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