Tag Archives: Evolution

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin!

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Today marks the 200th Birthday of the man who forwarded the concept of Evolution of species, which is a basic foundation of the science of Biology. Evolution is also a flash point in arguments between people with different views on religion. Even though Evolution has nothing to do with religion or religious beliefs, it has been used as a scapegoat for some people’s beliefs that might conflict with the results and facts of Evolution. How did we get there?

One problem has been a misunderstanding of the term Evolution. In science Evolution’s basic definition is: a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations.

That’s it. Nothing about monkeys turning into humans or “survival of the fittest”, which have been claims used against teaching of Evolution. All it means is to describe changes in a population over time.

Darwin called his idea “Natural Selection” and by that he meant species changed over time by adaptation controlled by the environment they lived in. Species that adapted appropriately passed their genes on to the next generation while those that didn’t adapt eventually died out. It isn’t that one species was “better” than the other only that one adapted better than the other and was able to pass on its genes.

Natural selection also infers that species can come from a common ancestor since it had to start some where to get to that particular point in time. There is strong evidence that Humans and apes share aspects that suggest we came from a common ancestor. At one time there was some species that then split into apes and another branch split into Humans.

That’s where religious people get upset. They fully believe that God created all the creatures on the Earth and if Evolution is true then it puts that idea into jeopardy.

The religious people are the ones who make it an issue. Darwin never cared about all it ALL began. All he did was forward the idea of how species got to where they are. Nothing in the study of Evolution is meant to be anti-religious or to intentionally contradict the story of creation. Many scientists support Evolution and consider themselves believers in a God.

However since Evolution, like all science facts, are tentative, there could be information collected soon or in the near future that solves the ultimate mystery of how it ALL got here.

That’s the promise of science – learning the answers to all the questions we have about the universe in which we live.

A tip of the hat today to the man who got the ball rolling – Charles Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882).

Some links for further info on Darwin and Evolution

The Origin Of Species: 6th Edition

Charles Darwin bio

Charles Darwin Day

FAQs about Evolution and the religious debates

Reminder for forgetful mayor

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In the latest news article on the Darwin Day dust up (see my previous post) there was a quote that caught my eye. It seems that the former mayor of Reynoldsburg Ohio Robert McPherson said he didn’t remember signing a similar proclamation for a Darwin Day in his city in 2006. Well it seems there is proof that he did in fact issue such a proclamation.

Whitehall’s consideration of honoring Darwin this year came after a a mass e-mail was sent to cities in November from the citizen group Darwin Day Columbus Planning Committee.

Amy Birtcher, a board member of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio, put the group together.

“This isn’t anti-religious; this is a science thing,” she said. “It’s part of an international movement to help us celebrate Darwin and the things he did to help us better understand the world.”

Birtcher said officials from a few other cities told her that they’d pass the idea along.

Former Reynoldsburg Mayor Robert McPherson proclaimed Feb. 12 Darwin Day in 2006, although yesterday he said he didn’t remember doing it.

Naming scientists now the holdup

I checked with the Humanist Community of Central Ohio and they sent me a scan of the document:

(Click on the document to see it full size)

I was there when the document arrived in the mail since I am a member of HCCO. We were shocked to get it because ironically some of our members had been complaining about McPherson putting up a Nativity Scene on the lawn of the city hall there and denying all attempts to add other symbols as required by various court cases around the country.

More ignorance in Whitehall Ohio

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The other day I posted a story about the conflict in the Whitehall city council about naming a Darwin Day to celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, who developed the concept of Evolution. At a meeting on Tuesday, January 27th, the Darwin Day follies focused on actually naming a scientist to honor for the compromise “Science Month”. And then it got funnier.

According to a report in the Columbus Dispatch:

Councilwoman Jacquelyn Thompson originally suggested declaring Feb. 12 Darwin Day in honor of the 200th birthday of the man who conceived the theory of evolution. However, she watered it down to “Science Month” and added Galileo’s name in a compromise two weeks ago.

“The whole idea of this was to recognize the events,” she said at a council meeting yesterday. “I thought it was a great opportunity to show that we value science, we value inquiry and we encourage our students to open up to the world.”

A few council members replied with shouts of “Not my children!”

“Is it fair to the hundreds if not thousands of other scientists to not name them?” Councilman Jim Graham asked.

Council members suggested leaving a celebration of science to the schools and complained that it would compete with other February designations, such as Black History Month. However, the unspoken issue revolved around who believed in evolution versus creationism.

Naming scientists now the holdup

Yes, a few council members shouted “Not my children!”

WOW! What a bunch of kooks.

The Dark Ages come to Whitehall Ohio

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Whitehall Ohio is a 5.2 square mile enclave of Columbus. It is middle income town with the largest employer being a Defense Supply Depot. It also seems that some town leaders want to celebrate science ignorance.

Back in December, Whitehall Mayor John Wolfe directed another episode of “Establishing a Religion” when he defended the city putting up a Nativity scene at city hall after complaints from the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Now it seems city leaders are against science.

Councilwoman Jacquelyn Thompson tried to get city council to adopt a resolution marking February 12th as Darwin Day in the city. It would honor the 200th birthday of the father of Evolution, Charles Darwin. Thompson said that Darwin was a personal hero and the idea of a proclamation came from a member of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio. However she soon found out not everyone was pleased:

Her proposal faced heavy opposition last week, so she agreed to resubmit it as a resolution that would make February “Science Month.” However, the resolution — as read at the City Council meeting last night — still mentions Darwin.

“I don’t think these are things City Council needs to be spending time with. It’s just a theory. There are other scientists,” Councilman Robert Bailey said.

“Maybe other cities don’t want a creche or they have a ‘Darwin Day,’ but this is Whitehall, and Whitehall takes care of Whitehall,” Councilman Wesley Kantor said last night. “The people of Whitehall want the Nativity scene and they don’t want this ‘Science Month.’ ”

Whitehall ponders ‘Science Month’

Once again, this opposition to Evolution and slander that it is just a “theory” is the result of ignorance of the concept. Evolution remains the foundation of biology, as it provides a unifying logical explanation for the diversity of life.

If we continue to do nothing about celebrations of science ignorance as supported by Councilmen Bailey and Kantor, then this country will continue to fall behind in science.

I don’t know about you but anything less than 1st place in science will not be cool.

Thank you Whitehall!

NOVA looks at Dover Intelligent Design trial

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NOVA is the premiere science program on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) here in the US. There is rarely a bad program or one that lacks any interest for the average viewer. This coming Tuesday, NOVA will have a timely and important show for those of us who support separation of church and state and Evolution.

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial will highlight the court case from 2005 against the school board in Dover Pennsylvania, who had decided to require district science teachers to read a statement to biology students suggesting that there is an alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution called intelligent design. Parents opposed to the policy filed the lawsuit in federal court.

After six weeks of testimony, Judge John E. Jones III, appointed to the Federal courts by George W. Bush, concluded in his ruling, “The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID [intelligent design] is a religious view, a mere relabeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory.”

The ruling caused two states, Kansas and Ohio, to change their plans to allow ID into their schools and ended hopes of religious right people of getting their religious beliefs on science forced into the schools.

Paula S. Apsell, Senior Executive Producer of NOVA, explained why the Dover trial was so important to science and why NOVA is devoting a 2 hour special to it:

This is not just any case; it’s an historic case as well as a critical science lesson. Through six weeks of expert testimony, the case provided a crash course in modern evolutionary science, and it really hit home just how firmly established evolutionary theory is. The case also explored the very nature of science—how science is defined. Perhaps most importantly, the trial had great potential for altering science education and the public understanding of science.

Dover’s lawyers tried to argue that ID is science and, therefore, that teaching it does not violate the principle of the separation of church and state in the Establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution. At the end of the trial, Judge John Jones issued a 139-page verdict supporting the teaching of evolution and characterizing intelligent design as a religious idea with no place in the science classroom. It was a landmark decision, all the more so because Judge Jones was appointed by President Bush and nominated by Republican Senator Rick Santorum.

If the decision had gone the other way, it could have had dire consequences for science education in this country. We know that state boards of education in Kansas and Ohio were considering changing science standards and curriculums to accommodate intelligent design, and they since have decided against it in the wake of this verdict.

Paula S. Apsell, Senior Executive Producer of NOVA

The program is scheduled for broadcast on Tuesday November 13th at 8 PM (it may vary in your area so check your local listings)

For further info see the program’s website:

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial

Related postings here on Secular Left:

Evolution on trial – again

Intelligent Design is covert creationism

Judge throws book at Dover Board in ruling

For all related posts click on the Tag Dover

Intelligent Design people are back with a brand new bag

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After the Dover, PA smack down when on December 20, 2005, Judge John E. Jones III, in The United States District Court For The Middle District Of Pennsylvania, ruled that the Dover District School Board violated the US Constitution when they changed the 9th grade Biology curriculum to include Intelligent Design (ID), people wondered what the ID people would come back with to try and sneak in their religious clap trap inside the schools.

Now we know.

The creationists plan to call their new version of creationism/ID – “evolution”.

Michael Behe – the star witness in the Dover trial – has a new book out called “The Edge of Evolution”. The guy is so hard up to get press for the book that he agreed to appear on the Colbert Report – a comedy show. Colbert did a decent job making Behe look foolish – but of course that isn’t a problem. He actually admited that his “ideas” on evolution are religious in nature.

Check these two links on the issue:

Behe on The Colbert Report

Chu-Carroll on Behe’s The Edge of Evolution