Yes, Darwin’s contributions as a scientist were truly remarkable. Patrick, I would hope that Darwin Day events would also educate the public in another important way by underscoring his contributions as a philanthropist and humanitarian. There is so much horrendously false and extremely unfair propaganda constantly spewed about Darwin, as if he originated racism. Obviously, in actual fact, he hated slavery and poured huge sums of money (mostly from his book royalties) into abolitionist causes. Indeed, the entire Darwin extended family was for a series of years ranked as the #1 most generous source of donations to abolitionist societies—including various Christian ministers in the U.S.A., such as the tireless, slavery-hating Henry Ward Beecher. I’m talking enormous sums of money devoted to “the plight of the oppressed African”.
Yes, royalties from On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life were used to print hundreds of thousands of scripture-filled anti-slavery tracts written, published, and distributed by activist clergymen, fiery preachers, and their congregations all over the U.S.A. [By the way, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was the sister of Henry Ward Beecher, if I recall correctly. The scripture tracts and sermons which were indirectly sponsored by Charles Darwin helped inspire her to write the novel which played a huge role in Northern resolve against the Confederacy in the Civil War. Her book led many men to volunteer for enlistment.]
When Charles Darwin died, pulpits across America eulogized him for his partnering with them in opposing slavery. How do we know this? In those days it was common practice for Sunday sermons to be published in the local newspapers by the following Tuesday or Wednesday. So historians have been able to consult those old newspaper archives in order to study the sermons and reactions of American Christian ministers to Darwin’s passing. Obviously, you will never read about this on the Answers in Genesis or Institute of Creation Research websites when they promote their routine vicious attacks against Darwin’s character. (Of course, in doing so they are also illustrating the Ad Hominem Fallacy as well as the Genetic Logical Fallacy.) I would never claim that Darwin was some sort of paragon of virtue, but how many people are? Yet, I am so impressed by his willingness to “put his money where his mouth is”. He not only lamented in his writings the terrible injustices heaped upon the enslaved, he actually did a great deal to stop those horrors.
This is an issue that frustrates me greatly, and even downright angers me. Christians should not be guilty of bearing false witness. It is doubly evil when they falsely attack Darwin with incendiary accusations which are the very opposite of his most generous and heartfelt efforts at doing good.
Patrick, I have never observed a Darwin Day event but I certainly hope that these historical facts receive due emphasis to where all of this will eventually become common knowledge—and that the disinformation promulgated by far too many Christian ministries will be extinguished.