Why Venerate Darwin?

They celebrate Darwin. have a stupid statue of him in the Brit meusem. It sure seems his concepts are the background, midground, and some foreground of evolutionism. however i do hear evolutionists often say darwin is not important. Hmmm. i think its because as time passes Darwins ideas fail. yet they still want evolutionism. i think that will fail in our time too.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

On this date in 1809, Charles Robert Darwin was born in England. He prepared for the Church at Cambridge, but his passion was natural history. During his work as a naturalist for the Beagle, he began documenting and formulating his theory of evolution. At the time he wrote the monumental On the Origin of Species (1859), he still accepted the “First Cause” argument. Gradually he threw off his religious beliefs. In his Descent of Man (1871), Darwin wrote: “. . . For my part I would as soon be descended from [a] baboon . . . as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies . . . treats his wives like slaves . . . and is haunted by the grossest superstitions.”

He wrote the Rev. J. Fordyce on July 7, 1879, that “an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.” Darwin penned his memoirs between the ages of 67 and 73, finishing the main text in 1876. These memoirs were published posthumously in 1887 by his family under the title Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, with his hardest-hitting views on religion excised. Only in 1958 did Darwin’s granddaughter Nora Barlow publish his Autobiography with original omissions restored (see excerpt below). D. 1882.

“I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.”

—Charles Darwin, Autobiography

We still celebrate Newton, even though his mechanics is out of date.


Well yes its a sad doctrine as Darwin said. the desire to see it as true is if its true. its whether its everybody damned or a remnant saved.
By the way with , i think, the majority of humans never leaving thier mothers bodies because of reproduction failings it would only be a minority who are damned. if my stats are right.
The rejection of Christianity is only right if its not true. not because of its doctrines.
Mankind does decay and die. This is real. What if his soul doesn’t?!
Be sure your right! If the people were damned it would explain why God himself had to be executed. Otherwise a God getting executed makes no sense. Jesus thought there was a damn good reason.


He should be celebrated. His discoveries kickstarted an entire field of study. He was right about a lot. You find it absurd that the british national history museum has a statue of one of the most famous naturalists ever, even without his work on evolution, who is british?


We do not have a Newton day.

@Patrick, I think this reveal your earlier posts on this thread are to be provocative.

As a side note, at PS, we are stealing back Adam from Darwin. So hopefully evolutionary science will be theologically “defanged” in a helpful way, so there is less reason for religious people to oppose it.

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This is true. And I don’t see the need for a Darwin day either. Yes there is some political infighting between creationists and evolutionists.


I propose we turn Darwin day either into “Origins Day” or into “Scientist Day”, where several scientists could be celebrated alongside Darwin. It does not serve the public good to link Darwin with evolution so tightly, and ignore so many great scientists.

Could the secular humanists get on board with that?

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Evolution is more important to us than physics Id agrue. It’s the story of us. An important part of it anyway. And Darwin is the father of modern evolutionary theory. So I think that’s why he has a day and not Newton. Evolution is more near and dear to our hearts than Newtonian Mechanics.

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Darwin does not represent modern evolutionary science, and physics is very important too. Remember also that Alfred Russell Wallace was the equal co-discoverer of evolution with Darwin, so why not include him?

Sure this isn’t some irrational veneration?

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There is nothing wrong with placing a statue of Darwin in a British history museum. It’s quite appropriate. Darwin was a great British naturalist.

However, the motivation behind “Darwin Day” in the USA is not simply to pay honor to a great scientist – our culture is not in the habit of dedicating days of the year to honor great scientists. We don’t celebrate “Euclid Day” even though Euclid’s contributions to human civilization far outweigh Darwin’s. We don’t celebrate “Newton Day” even though applied Newtonian physics is far more useful to our everyday lives than Darwin’s speculations about the origin of species. Darwin has become a sort of symbol of “Courageous science versus religious obscurantism,” and that is why his name is venerated in this annual festival. If there weren’t a creation/evolution controversy in the USA, there never would have been a Darwin Day. Darwin Day was a public relations creation by the alliance of atheist and Christian supporters of evolution to publicly tweak the nose of fundamentalists.

If I were a journalist, mischievous sort of creature that I am, and I were assigned to cover some Darwin Day event, I would ask the various participants, with my microphone in their face, whether they had actually read On the Origin of Species, and if not, how they knew that it was any good, and why they were celebrating the man who wrote it. It might make a good off-beat item for the late night news.


I think it would be a wonderful thing for education if we had a joint Newton-Einstein Day.

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Didn’t say Darwin Represented modern evolutionary theory

To the extent that Newton is celebrated, it’s a mythical Newton - just as more evidently, Darwin is a mythical Darwin, shorn not only of his errors but even of his co-discoverer Wallace, equally eminent in his lifetime.

On the one hand Newton the alchemist is obliterated, though understanding him would give a much clearer picture of the tangled progress of knowledge than the “superstition steadily gives way to true science” myth.

On the other, Newton the theologian is not only forgotten, but actually contradicted by making him an example of the triumph of science over religion, ignoring his own claim to have done his science in the hope that it would demonstrate the glory of God.

In the end, Darwin’s statue replaced Owen’s at the Natural History Museum (which Owen built) not because he advanced science (though he did), but because Darwinian evolution changed the Western worldview.

Witness a three part BBC TV series starting this week, “Darwin’s Dangerous Ideas,” the blurb on which says presenter Andrew Marr traces “how [evolution] has influenced virtually every area of modern life. He begins by exploring the impact of Charles Darwin’s ideas on religion and morality, revealing why many Muslims, Jews and fundamentalist Christians still regard them as heresy.”

Notice the absence of any reference to science in that.


So, are you for more abortions, more miscarriages, and more reproduction failings? You do realize that as recently as 1850, 4 in 10 child didn’t survive past 5 years old. And 1 in 4 mothers died in childbirth. As a secular humanist, woman’s reproductive healthcare and rights are very important to me. All woman should be able to reproduce if and when they want to and have the confidence that they will have a healthy child and live to take good care of it. You, my friend, are more interested in your ancient dogma, doctrine, and beliefs than woman’s and children’s (and thus all humans) health and welfare. That’s deplorable.

This may be of interest to this discussion: https://www.ce-debate.org/blog/darwin-day.

@swamidass, @T.j_Runyon, @jongarvey, @Patrick, @nwrickert, etc. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts!

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The essay that you linked seems reasonable.

The second paragraph begins “Charles Darwin as a person is both occasionally demonized by the creationist community and idolized by the evolutionary community.” Unfortunately that is too true. We could do without the demonization by creationists, and we could do without the idolization by evolutionists.

As an example, in my opinion it would have been better of Jerry Coyne had titled his book “Why evolution” rather than “Why evolution is true”. There’s no need to aggravate disagreements.

For myself, I see Darwin as a keen observer of nature with great insight. I agree that he did not intend to start a fight between science and religion. And I like what @swamidass is doing to call for a truce in that fight.

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I, actually, do have a Newton Day…


You all should get with the times and join in the celebration! We’re pushing for a Swamidass Day, too, but that’s hitting some resistance. Alas, I’m sure we’ll prevail!


Echoing Neil’s assessment of Darwin sans myth, he was a great field naturalist (though not as great as Wallace, IMHO), had many excellent personality attributes, and came up with decent science.

See him as a human in context, and one can assess his faults along with his virtues, place him in his times and so on, as one would with anyone else - even ones good friends.

As soon as you saddle him with “the greatest idea anyone ever had anywhere” the hagiography makes it difficult to do anything but worship him or hate him. There’s a lot more to dislike in someone like Francis Bacon or even Isaac Newton.


:smile: That’s such a biology thing to say. Without doubt, Newton had the greater impact. One can get through years of biology classes without learning much about evolutionary biology (as a lot of more conservative Christian schools do) but there is no way to learn physics or engineering without encountering Newton. More than just Newton’s Laws, Newton basically started the trend of using math to do physics. He also co-invented calculus. That’s basically the foundation of all physics and the heart of modern applied math.