February 12, 2008

Darwin Day!

Happy Darwin Day everybody! Celebrations are in order I think. I'm going to celebrate in my own twisted way two days from now by going to a creationist lecture here in Uppsala. I'm sure it's going to be the same ignorant dreck as always, but I'm excited nonetheless. Anyway...

Why then, is it a good idea to remember Charles Darwin's birthday? For those of us that work with evolution, pretty much everyday is Darwin day. The emergence of evolutionary thought was such a radical event that nothing in the modern life sciences can be properly envisioned except through evolutionary eyes - as the famous quote by Theodosius Dobzhansky goes: "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution". Evolutionary thought permeates everything from the study of life's diversity to the development of new drugs and medical technologies - practical applications that we all benefit greatly from. But aside from this, it has a remarkable power in informing us about our own existence and place in the universe.

Yet 199 years after Darwin's birth and 148 years after On the Origin of Species first publication, evolution, proven many times over, is in question. That's why I think it's important that we remember the date. Maybe one day we'll arrive at a time where knowledge and rationality win over ignorance and superstition and Darwin day might become not as much a statement, but the celebration of a life dedicated to the scientific process and the honest quest for truth; and ultimately, of the great benefits that science has given humanity.

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

- Charles Darwin

Contemplate your wonderful existence and never stop evolving.

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  1. Read Richard Dawkins' wonderful celebration of Darwin here.

  2. Caught your post on the 4UM and wanted to read more.
    BTW, I read in one archeology journal or another that the remains of the HMS. Beagle had been located in the marsh where it was scuttled in southern Briton. Seems it ended up getting used as a prison ship or something and finally it was decommissioned and sunk in a salt marsh.

  3. Thanks for stopping by!


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