Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Darwin's birthday evolves into holiday

News items about the annual celebration of Darwin's birthday (and it being further evidence of Darwinism being a secular religion). My comments are bold and in square brackets.

Darwin's birthday evolves into holiday: Amid challenges, supporters stick up for evolution on Sunday, MSNBC/AP, Kathy Matheson, Feb. 9, 2006 ... PHILADELPHIA - Thanks to the "intelligent design" movement, Charles Darwin's birthday is evolving into everything from a badminton party to church sermons this weekend. Defenders of Darwin's theory of natural selection are planning hundreds of events around the world Sunday, the 197th anniversary of his birth, saying recent challenges to the teaching of evolution have re-emphasized the need to promote his work. "The people who believe in evolution ... really just sort of need to stand up and be counted," said Richard Leventhal, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. "Evolution is the model that drives science. [This is another grandiose claim for evolution, which I have included in a new section, PE "Definition of `evolution' ... Cosmic `evolution'" of my "Problems of Evolution" book outline.]

It's time to recognize that." The museum's celebration will include birthday cake, a little badminton (reportedly a favorite game of Darwin's) and a reading of his masterwork, "The Origin of Species," by Penn junior Bill Wames, who volunteered to dress up as the 19th-century naturalist. "Come to my party!" Wames, in costume, bellowed Wednesday while handing out fliers around campus. "Sunday at 1 o'clock!" At the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, philosophy students will get a jump-start on Darwin Day on campus Friday by singing Darwin carols they composed. Years of discovery Darwin, who was born in England on Feb. 12, 1809, and died in 1882, was 50 when he published "The Origin of Species." His conclusion that species evolve over time was based in part on zoological and geological discoveries made during a five-year voyage around the world on the HMS Beagle. The intelligent-design movement challenges Darwin's theory, contending that organisms are so complex that they must have been created by some kind of higher being. Critics of intelligent design say it is creationism camouflaged in scientific language. Intelligent-design proponents suffered legal setbacks last year in Pennsylvania and Georgia, but Kansas education officials have approved science standards that treat evolution as a flawed theory. Polls have shown many Americans don't accept evolution. A Gallup poll in 2004 found that about 35 percent of Americans believe Darwin's theory is well supported by evidence, another 35 percent thought it was not well-supported and 29 percent said they didn't know enough about it. Religion and science get along To show religion and science are not at odds, more than 400 churches of many denominations - most of them in the United States - have agreed to participate in "Evolution Sunday" by giving a sermon, holding classes or sponsoring discussions. Organizer Michael Zimmerman, a biology professor and dean at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, said there is "no reason that people have to choose between religion and science." The Darwin Day Celebration was formalized six years ago as a California-based nonprofit organization, but some tributes go back much further. Salem State College in Massachusetts has had a Darwin festival for 26 years. ... [I have added these items and others to a new section of my "Problems of Evolution" book outline: PE 3.6.1. "Evolution is a religion ... Darwin's birthday celebrated," with comments "Darwin's birthday is celebrated annually by Darwinists, as Jesus' birthday (Christmas) is celebrated annually by Christians ... This is unique in science (no other branch of science celebrates annually its founder's birthday), therefore this is further evidence that Darwinism is a religion to its followers ... (continued below)]

Churches say 'amen' for Darwin's theory: Many to celebrate scientist's birthday, The Boston Globe/Chicago Tribune, By Lisa Anderson, February 12, 2006 ... NEW YORK -- Nearly 450 Christian churches around the country plan to celebrate the 197th birthday of Charles Darwin today with programs and sermons intended to emphasize that his theory of biological evolution is compatible with faith and that Christians have no need to choose between religion and science. 'It's to demonstrate, by Christian leaders and members of the clergy, that you don't have to make that choice. You can have both," said Michael Zimmerman ... who organized the event. Darwin's theory holds that all life on Earth, including humans, shares common ancestry and developed over millions of years through the mechanisms of natural selection and random mutation. The concept is repugnant to many conservative Christians because it conflicts with their belief that man was specially created in the image of God. Zimmerman said today's event is designed to educate Americans about two things. ''The first part was to demonstrate to the American public that the shrill fundamentalist voices that were demanding that people had to choose between religion and science were simply wrong. [Presumably Zimmerman (and/or the journalist) is referring to the ID movement, in which case he (and/or she) is erecting a straw man, what Johnson called " the `official caricature' of the creation-evolution debate":

"A laudatory review of Weiner's book (The Beak of the Finch) appeared in the Times book review section a week later. Like Weiner's essay, it began by commenting on the astonishing persistence of biblical creationism among persons who appear to be otherwise perfectly reasonable. The reviewer attributed this to a lack of knowledge of the overwhelming proof of evolution which scientists have discovered. ... The Weiner article and book review illustrate what I would call the `official caricature' of the creation-evolution debate, a distortion that is either explicit or implicit in nearly all media and textbook treatments of the subject. According to the caricature, `evolution' is a simple, unitary process that one can see in operation today and that is also supported unequivocally by all the fossil evidence. Everyone accepts the truth of evolution except a disturbingly large group of biblical fundamentalists, who insist that the earth is no more than ten thousand years old and the fossil beds were laid down in Noah's flood. These baffling persons either are uninformed about the evidence or perhaps choose to disregard it as a temptation placed before us by God to test our faith in Genesis. There is no conceivable intellectual basis for their dissent, because the evidence for evolution is absolutely conclusive." (Johnson P.E., "Reason in the Balance," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1995, pp.72-73).

Leaders of the ID movement like Phil Johnson, Mike Behe and Bill Dembski are not "fundamentalists" in the sense of six-day, young-Earth creationists ( which is what most of Zimmerman's readers would understand by the term). For example, Behe accepts universal common ancestry (as I do):

"Evolution is a controversial topic, so it is necessary to address a few basic questions at the beginning of the book. Many people think that questioning Darwinian evolution must be equivalent to espousing creationism. As commonly understood, creationism involves belief in an earth formed only about ten thousand years ago, an interpretation of the Bible that is still very popular. For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it. I greatly respect the work of my colleagues who study the development and behavior of organisms within an evolutionary framework, and I think that evolutionary biologists have contributed enormously to our understanding of the world. Although Darwin's mechanism-natural selection working on variation-might explain many things, however, I do not believe it explains molecular life. I also do not think it surprising that the new science of the very small might change the way we view the less small." (Behe M.J., "Darwin's Black Box," Free Press: New York NY, 1996, pp.5-6. My emphasis)

and Dembski has stated thati "ntelligent design is compatible with ... God seamlessly melding all organisms together into one great tree of life":

"Where does intelligent design fit within the creation-evolution debate? Logically, intelligent design is compatible with everything from utterly discontinuous creation (e.g., God intervening at every conceivable point to create new species) to the most far-ranging evolution (e.g., God seamlessly melding all organisms together into one great tree of life). For intelligent design the primary question is not how organisms came to be (though, as we've just seen, this is a vital question for intelligent design) but whether organisms demonstrate clear, empirically detectable marks of being intelligently caused. In principle an evolutionary process can exhibit such `marks of intelligence' as much as any act of special creation." (Dembski W.A., "Intelligent Design," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1999, pp.109-110)

The second part was to demonstrate that those fundamentalist leaders that keep standing up and shouting that you can't accept modern science were not speaking for the majority of Christian leaders in this country," said Zimmerman, a former biology professor. However, Evolution Sunday drew sharp criticism from the Discovery Institute. The Seattle-based think tank funds research into challenges to neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, such as the concept of intelligent design, which posits that some complexities of life, yet unexplained by evolution, best are attributed to an unnamed and unseen intelligence. In a statement issued under the title "On Evolution Sunday It's Give Me That Old-Time Darwinist Religion," Discovery Institute president Bruce Chapman said, ''Evolution Sunday is the height of hypocrisy." "Our view is not that pastors should speak out against evolution," he added, "but that the Darwinists are hypocrites for claiming -- falsely -- that opposition to Darwinism is merely faith-based, and then turning around and trying to make the case that Darwinism itself is faith-based." To counter new challenges to teaching evolution, supporters of Darwin's theory have scheduled hundreds of events around the world today. The events are part of the Darwin Day Celebration, which was formalized six years ago as a California-based nonprofit program. Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England, on Feb. 12, 1809, and died in 1882. ... [My comments under this section of my book outline continued: "... Because Darwin's birthday fell on a Sunday in 2006, Darwinists managed to get (dupe?) a comparatively small number of churches to celebrate it as "Evolution Sunday", to `prove' that Darwinism (which denies there is design) and Christianity are compatible ...Note above that "Darwin Day Celebration began ... with the Humanist [i.e. atheist] Community back in 1994-95" to celebrate the birth of "Charles Darwin, Emancipator of the Human Mind" (that is, from religion in general and Christianity in particular). Note also above that, "The Honorary President of Darwin Day is none other than Richard Dawkins" who regards religion in general, and Christianity in particular, as, in the words of the titles of the two episodes in his recent BBC TV program: "The Root of All Evil," "The God Delusion" and "The Virus of Faith"!]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

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