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Friday February 12th, 2021

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WHY DARWIN DAY?

International Darwin Day inspires people throughout the globe to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin. It is a day of celebration, activism, and international cooperation for the advancement of science, education, and human well-being.

 

In 1909, on the 100th anniversary of his birth, large celebrations honoring Darwin’s contributions to science and humanity were held in Cambridge, New York and New Zealand. The University of Chicago commemorated the 100th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1959 with a series of notable events from November 24 through the 28th. The 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth saw an entire season of BBC programming on Charles Darwin himself as well as evolution and natural selection. Salem State University has successfully held an annual Darwin Festival since 1980.
 

Who Is Charles Darwin?

Darwin, it is generally agreed, had the most important idea in the history of science. Thinkers had been feeling their way toward it for decades, but it took Darwin to begin with an evident truth and arrive at its evident conclusion: Over the passage of many years, more successful organisms survive better than the less successful. The result is the improvement of future generations. This process he called "natural selection."

It worked for bugs, birds and bees. It worked for plants, fish and trees. In 1859, when he published On the Origin of Species, it explained a great many things. Later, we would discover it even explained the workings of the cosmos. But -- and here was the question even Darwin himself hesitated to ask -- did it explain Man?

Emma Darwin, his wife, didn't think so. She was a committed Christian who believed with her church that God alone was the author of Man. And for her it wasn't God as a general concept, but the specific God of Genesis, and he created Man exactly as the Old Testament said he did. He did it fairly recently, too, no matter that Darwin's fossils seemed to indicate otherwise.

"Creation" is a film about the way this disagreement played out in Darwin's marriage. Charles and Emma were married from 1830 until his death in 1882. They had 10 children, seven of whom survived to beget descendants who even today have reunions. They loved one another greatly. Darwin at first avoided spelling out the implications for Man in the Theory of Evolution so as not to disturb her. But his readers could draw the obvious conclusion, and so could Emma: If God created Man, he did it in the way Darwin discovered, and not in the way a 4,000-year-old legend prescribed.