A resolution has been proposed in the US Congress to recognize February 12, 2013 as Darwin Day.
Americans are overly enamored of a refusal to learn science, but there is no virtue in ignorance.
This is an important step, by a real scientist serving in Congress, to reverse that anti-science bias of Congress.
On Jan. 22, Rush D. Holt, a Democrat who represents central New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, introduced a resolution designating Feb. 12, 2013 — Charles Darwin’s 204th birthday — as Darwin Day, “recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.”
Rep. Holt was a faculty member at Swarthmore College from 1980 to 1988 where he taught physics, public policy, and religion courses.
Many Christians, of course, believe that Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is compatible with a Christian worldview. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, is comfortable with Darwin, especially as his work relates to the evolution of bodies (souls come from God). In 1996, Pope John Paul II wrote, confirming older Catholic teaching, that “there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith.”
This is a religious controversy, not a scientific controversy.
The controversy does not depend on the religion, but on the Biblical interpretation of the individual preacher.
Ronald L. Numbers, a science historian at the University of Wisconsin, said that many evangelical Protestants were once willing to accept the theory, as long as it was applied only to animals, not to humans.
But humans are animals.
We share illness with only some other species of animal (which animal species will vary by the illness involved), but we would not share only some illnesses if we were not also animals. We can also transplant organs between animals and humans.
We are more like other animals than we are different from other animals.
Click on images to make them larger.
Two African apes are the closest living relatives of humans: the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and the bonobo (Pan paniscus). Although they are similar in many respects, bonobos and chimpanzees differ strikingly in key social and sexual behaviours, and for some of these traits they show more similarity with humans than with each other. Here we report the sequencing and assembly of the bonobo genome to study its evolutionary relationship with the chimpanzee and human genomes. We find that more than three per cent of the human genome is more closely related to either the bonobo or the chimpanzee genome than these are to each other. These regions allow various aspects of the ancestry of the two ape species to be reconstructed. In addition, many of the regions that overlap genes may eventually help us understand the genetic basis of phenotypes that humans share with one of the two apes to the exclusion of the other.
Even New Orleans has passed a proclamation to recognize Darwin Day.
Here is the full text of the Darwin Day resolution.
Expressing support for designation of February 12, 2013, as Darwin Day and recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.
Whereas Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by the mechanism of natural selection, together with the monumental amount of scientific evidence he compiled to support it, provides humanity with a logical and intellectually compelling explanation for the diversity of life on Earth;
Whereas the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is further strongly supported by the modern understanding of the science of genetics;
Whereas it has been the human curiosity and ingenuity exemplified by Darwin that has promoted new scientific discoveries that have helped humanity solve many problems and improve living conditions;
Whereas the advancement of science must be protected from those unconcerned with the adverse impacts of global warming and climate change;
Whereas the teaching of creationism in some public schools compromises the scientific and academic integrity of the United States education systems;
Whereas Charles Darwin is a worthy symbol of scientific advancement on which to focus and around which to build a global celebration of science and humanity intended to promote a common bond among all of Earth’s peoples; and
Whereas February 12, 2013, is the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 1809 and would be an appropriate date to designate as Darwin Day: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives–
(1) supports the designation of Darwin Day; and
(2) recognizes Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge.
The Darwin Day resolution includes a recognition of role of humans in climate change, so one of the other powerful political denialist groups can be expected to participate in blocking this resolution.
While evolution denialists and climate change denialists are not necessarily the same, they do share fleas. This is understandable, since both are manifestations of scientific ignorance.
 The bonobo genome compared with the chimpanzee and human genomes.
Prüfer K, Munch K, Hellmann I, Akagi K, Miller JR, Walenz B, Koren S, Sutton G, Kodira C, Winer R, Knight JR, Mullikin JC, Meader SJ, Ponting CP, Lunter G, Higashino S, Hobolth A, Dutheil J, Karakoç E, Alkan C, Sajjadian S, Catacchio CR, Ventura M, Marques-Bonet T, Eichler EE, André C, Atencia R, Mugisha L, Junhold J, Patterson N, Siebauer M, Good JM, Fischer A, Ptak SE, Lachmann M, Symer DE, Mailund T, Schierup MH, Andrés AM, Kelso J, Pääbo S.
Nature. 2012 Jun 28;486(7404):527-31. doi: 10.1038/nature11128.
PMID: 22722832 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]