Retire Darwin Day?

Thanks. Mission Accomplished.

It strikes me that the emotion here parallels what I see in Christians when Christmas is removed as an official holiday. Christmas, in my view, is a religious holiday, and it was always weird for it be instituted as a government holiday. Many Christians, however, see that view as a direct attack on all they hold dear.

Something similar seems to be happening here, at least for some people.

I suppose my issue isn’t with celebrating it per se, but in connecting it too tightly with science outreach. I think we might make better progress in helping religious communities engage with evolutionary science. Perhaps, maybe this wasn’t clear in my introduction to @J.E.S’s article, but I think celebration of Darwin Day makes sense for a lot of people, but it might be a good idea to separate it from advocating for science.

Even as I write this, I know some people are going to disagree. That is fine. I’m just considering the question here with you. I’m not doing a power play either.


It sometimes seems that a bunch of conservative Christians get together and pressure Congress into passing a resolution for a national day of prayer. And then a bunch of atheists and evolutionists get together and pressure Congress into passing a resolution for a national Darwin day.

I would like to see both sides call a truce. People can pray without a congressional resolution, and people can celebrate Darwin without a congressional resolution. Let’s keeps the politics out of this.


Yeah I agree.

That is my point.

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This is something that @Mark must love. While you’re all celebrating a secular and capitalistic (talking about capitalistic St. Nicholas) version of Christmas, he’s celebrating a religious one.

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More to the point, it isn’t even an official holiday. It is up there with “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” and “National Donut Day”.

That is not quite right. Look at this program at WUSTL:

It connects science outreach to Darwin Day. I’m not sure this is the most effective approach.

I guess this is where I get confused. Is Darwin Day designed as an atheist “let’s get us a day to compete with all the religious holidays” or is this a science/biology advocacy day (like we chemists have Mole Day)? It’s probably a mix of both but I think that’s where @swamidass’s concern maybe lies.

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At least in the US, we can’t help but view Darwin Day through the lens of the Scopes trial and other similar conflicts between science and certain religious beliefs. Part of the reason we celebrate Galileo is because of this same conflict. If it weren’t for segregation there wouldn’t be MLK day. If it weren’t for two massive wars we wouldn’t have Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day. Just as those other holidays can serve as a platform for equal rights and peace, Darwin Day can serve as a platform for continued support of the sciences and scientific outreach.

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I agree that it is a mix of both. But it is the political aspect that is divisive.

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I enjoy my yearly slice of cake and selfie with the Darwin Cutout.


I am late to the party! :slight_smile:

So, you’re saying that atheists are entitled to their one religious holiday since Christians have so many? :wink:

The vilification of Darwin could be, in part, a response to the idolization of Darwin (which is exemplified by Darwin Day celebrations). I still think that it would be a great benefit if the Creation/Evolution discussion could avoid fixating on Darwin. Here’s a key paragraph from the article:

Ultimately, it is good to take a balanced view of Charles Darwin who, like all of us, had his accomplishments and shortcomings. Darwin is not a devil to be despised anymore than he is an idol to be venerated. Still, we need to re-evaluate the purpose and value of Darwin Day. Choosing Darwin as the namesake for an unofficial scientific holiday does more to alienate those who disagree with Darwin’s macroevolutionary conclusion than it does to elevate good research.

In the journey toward a more gracious and inclusive origins dialogue, perhaps retiring Darwin Day could be a small but worthwhile step that we are all willing to take.

This is something that merits discussion:

I don’t know of anyone who has a problem with Mole Day (or Pi day :wink: ). In the end, (also note what I wrote in the emphasized statement from the article above) I completely agree with @swamidass here:

Now, of course, you can disagree with @swamidass and I, but I do hope you give this article some serous thought.

Um, no. Darwin Day started in the last 20 years or so. The vilification of him began 170 years ago and has never let up. He wasn’t idolized by Huxley and the others… he was defended from the vicious attacks, mostly coming from the church.


That’s just one example of the idolization (and it happens to be the example we are discussing today).

If it isn’t 100% clear, I think both @J.E.S and I are arguing against vilifying Darwin too. We are taking a bit of third way here.

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There is Pi Day, National fossil day, and a handful of others. I see no problem with Darwin Day. Just another day celebrating a cool discovery. Space week, earth science week, world oceans day. The list goes on and on

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@NLENTS, point taken. Historically, the vilification of Darwin probably started long before his idolization. @TedDavis might help us clarify that point.

Actually, it started well before that:


We’re concerned with alienating people who disagree with well-established science now? Welp, better cancel Yuri’s Night, Moon Day, Space Week (etc) as to not alienate flat earthers/moon landing deniers and cancel Earth Hour as to not alienate climate change deniers.

To add, I also would support the establishment of something like “Einstein Day” or “Newton Day” to celebrate these kinds of remarkable scientists and their massively important work. There’s enough science to go around several dedicated days, given that they could have quite different emphases. It’s much easier for the public to approach scientific fields using one or several individuals as “gateways”, as we can relate to their personal stories and progression.

Besides, would creationists really feel much less alienated if “Darwin Day” became “Evolutionary Biology Day” or even “Science Day”? As long as evolution is publicly promoted they’ll feel like they’re being marginalised. It’s not the fact that Darwin is being celebrated, or that his face is plastered everywhere - the problem is that people celebrate/promote evolution because (many) creationists feel that this is an attack on their religion. The reason that some atheist groups place an emphasis on evolution/Darwin Day should be obvious - it’s a response to theists who’re anti-evolution. If I were to snap my fingers and make everyone on the planet accept evolution, but have their religious beliefs be otherwise unchanged, how much do you want to bet that there would be a sharp drop off in atheist groups making special plans for Darwin Day?