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Darwin Day is February 12th
by Linda Jane and Brenda O'Prisko

 Today we celebrate the birth of one our greatest scientists, Charles Darwin. During a five year excursion into South America and numerous islands in the Pacific Ocean, including the Galapagos Islands, Darwin discovered varying degrees of similarities between species, coming to the realization that to varying degrees, all were related. He kept this quiet for many years, knowing full well the impact evolution would have in his community.  He continued studying, however, and was a very respected scholar and naturalist. It wasn’t until Alfred Russell Wallace, a naturalist working in south Asia, developed ideas about evolution as well, that Darwin decided to publish his work.

 Evolution is a central and very important fact that has given us much to contemplate and explore. It touches every aspect of science, from psychology and biology to anatomy, etc. Understanding evolution can give us answers to help cure disease, understand genetics and improve the quality of life. It provides us with a link to other animal species in an attempt to understand why we act the way we do. For instance, chimpanzees, our closest cousins, go to “war” only when there is a good chance they will win, they trade food for sex, sneak out at night to have “affairs”, and generally behave as we do. They also recognize themselves in the mirror, “talk” to each other, and recognize consequences to certain actions. They are intelligent and social creatures and we have and are continuing to learn a lot from them.  The animal kingdom also has its share of rape, oral sex, homosexuality, and violence but also compassion, love, reconciliation (i.e. holding hands after a fight), and peacemaking. We are not so different, after all.

 “As with all other life on earth, humans have evolved. This is not simply a scientific opinion, but is a position supported by the hard facts of evolution: the fossil record. This evidence counters the patently false claims made by "creation science" that the human fossil record is nothing more than a motley collection of aberrant apes, modern humans and forgeries. In fact, compared to many other mammals, humanity's ancestry is very well documented. Although controversy swirls around the details of the past five million years of our evolution, there is consensus among scientists that we are the products of that evolution.”  Dr. Andrew Kramer, PhD

The term "theory" causes much confusion as most people believe it means an unproven idea or a guess. However, scientists use the definition that a theory is a set of facts and laws relating to our natural world. Scientists do not argue that evolution is true, but rather they debate certain mechanisms of past evolution.

Is Darwin Day an anti-religious celebration?

No. Although the theory of evolution continues to be misinterpreted as a threat to religious belief, Darwin Day itself does not promote religion or non-religion and especially not anti-religion. Groups, organizations, and individuals of all religious flavors, or lack thereof, are invited to participate in Darwin Day and the celebration of science and humanity.

For more information on the internet, check out: http://fp.bio.utk.edu/darwin/ ; http://www.darwinday.org/ and http://www.natcenscied.org/.  For further reading, I recommend Charles Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” and Frans De Waal’s “Good Natured The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals”  and “Bonobo The Forgotten Ape” co-written by Frans Lanting.  Also revealing is “Demonic Males Apes and the Origins of Human Violence” written by Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson.

So Happy Darwin Day to All!!