Evolution Weekend and Darwin’s Bicentennial

| 15 Comments

Evolution Weekend and Darwin’s birthday are especially significant this year, which is the sesquicentennial of Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species and also the bicentennial of his birth. Evolution Weekend is part of the Clergy Letter Project; as I noted a couple of years ago on Panda’s Thumb, “The Clergy Letter Project is terribly important because it counters the view that evolution is inherently atheistic, and the signers of the document are the natural allies of us who want to promote good science education and keep all species of creationism out of the public schools and indeed out of the public agenda.” Since that time, the Clergy Letter Project has expanded to include a Rabbi Letter and a Unitarian-Universalist Clergy Letter. The Project encourages clergy and other religious leaders to sponsor programs concerning evolution in their churches or synagogues during Evolution Weekend. What follows is an update on the 2009 Evolution Weekend, which I got from Michael Zimmerman of Butler University. Evolution Weekend is 13 -15 February 2009, and Darwin’s sesquicentennial is 12 February 2009.

Evolution Weekend Update

I’m delighted to report that participation in Evolution Weekend has expanded significantly over last year. This means that participation has increased every year that Evolution Weekend has been in existence! As of today, 903 congregations from 14 countries have signed up to participate. I know, however, that more of you are planning to participate but you haven’t yet signed up. My problem is, I just don’t know who you are! If you’re not yet listed on our Web page, please drop me a note so I can add you. Stories about Evolution Weekend are beginning to appear in various media and on the Web so it would be nice to have as accurate a list as possible. Please let me add you and your congregation if you’re planning to participate.

Press Release

If you are participating in Evolution Weekend, you might want to use the press release I’ve drafted to announce the event. All you need to do to use the release is fill in a bit of information about your congregation. I hope that you find this helpful. Please share any media coverage with me ([Enable javascript to see this email address.]). And, if you’re delivering a sermon for Evolution Weekend, please send me a copy so I can post it on our Web site.

The UU Clergy Letter

Our new Unitarian-Universalist Clergy Letter has now been posted on our Web site. As of this morning, the Letter has garnered 130 signatures from Unitarian Universalist clergy members. If you are such a clergy member and you haven’t yet signed the Letter, please drop me a note ([Enable javascript to see this email address.]) and I’ll get you listed. This Clergy Letter now joins our original Christian Clergy Letter, which has 11,815 signatures, and our Rabbi Letter, which has 432 signatures. If you have friends or colleagues who haven’t yet signed one of our Letters but who might like to do so, please pass along information to them.

Wish Charles Darwin a Happy Birthday

Charles Darwin was born on 12 February 1809 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. In celebration of his 200th birthday, Shropshire Tourism has created a Web site that enables people from all over the world to wish him a happy birthday. The map showing those birthday wishes is well worth looking at. Additionally, there’s a great deal of useful information about Darwin on the Web page. Look around and share your birthday wishes with the world.

To sign your congregation up or to sign any of the Clergy Letters, contact Professor Zimmerman at [Enable javascript to see this email address.]. Additionally, you may find articles, sermons, scientific consultants, and other resources here.

Please limit comments to Evolution Weekend, Darwin’s bicentennial, and The Clergy Letter Project, and avoid discussion of theology or “the timeless truths of the Bible.”

15 Comments

C’mon, Matt! It’s the bicentennial (not sesqui-) of Darwin’s birth, and the sesquicentenial (not centennial)of the publication of On the Origin of Species.

It’s the bicentennial (not sesqui-) of Darwin’s birth, and the sesquicentenial (not centennial)of the publication of On the Origin of Species.

Sorry - my ability to do arithmetic is evidently several decibels down. And I am not even an administrator. Thanks for the correction. I have fixed the offending prefixes.

I attended a “pre” Darwin day talk on Saturday given by three disciples from the dishonesty institute at a local church, John West, Geoffrey Simmons, and Casey Luskin.

I only stayed for the John West spiel, unfortunately, but I just couldn’t stomach more than one insufferable hour listening to West and his canned spiel. Very polished he is, very slick & clever. He slips a lot of general ID nonsense into his talk, even a little Nazi stuff, and he, like other ID’rs, drives quickly through his presentation with non sequitors, but doesnt’ allow questions, though I did manage to get in a couple of zingers. He commented he was being attacked (I questioned his content, not the speaker), and he later showed the DI martyr trophy board and apparently a tape of some purportedly scientists singing a rather derisive ID song (which I think was in bad taste).

Anyway, one of the questions I got in related to his last slide, which of course was the quote mine from Darwins O of S introduction. He didn’t even have the decency to use ellipses (…), but rather stated as a sentence about all sides must be heard. Well, I had to explain what he left off (he wasn’t about to) & why Darwin said that.

Incredibly, incredibly, this guy was supposedly a full professor, head of his dept at Seattle Pacific U., and he feigned ignorance that his quote might be wrong! I think SPU ditched him. I heard rumor his students complained that all he talked about was ID, and this a Catholic school.

@ DavidK

It doesn’t matter very much with regard to the point you were making, but SPU was actually established by the Methodists.

C’mon, Matt! It’s the bicentennial (not sesqui-) of Darwin’s birth, and the sesquicentenial (not centennial)of the publication of On the Origin of Species.

He published fifty years before he was born? Now there’s a productive scientist! ;)

Henry

ScottN said:

@ DavidK

It doesn’t matter very much with regard to the point you were making, but SPU was actually established by the Methodists.

Thank you. I stand corrected. Seattle University is Catholic, SPU is Methodist.

My quick and dirty estimate is that there may be 200 or so Steves who have signed the letter. Unfortunately there isn’t a single list with all names.

Matt,

I attended a pre-Darwin Day event at AMNH yesterday, that was geared more towards families, but surprisingly, the presentations, by Dr. Neil Shubin, Dr. Mark Norell, Curator-in-Charge of AMNH’s Division of Paleontology, and a British animator who specializes in animating dinosaurs, were far more “adult” than I expected. Shubin of course recounted the discovery of Tiktaalik, including how he was able to predict its eventual discovery by looking at geological maps of Ellesmere Island, where it was discovered. Norell’s talk was focused on the relationships between birds and their nonavian theropod ancestors, discussing field research he’s doing now in Mongolia and also in Northeastern China.

This Saturday New York City Skeptics is sponsoring a Darwin200 celebration which will include evolutionary biologist and philosopher Massimo Pigliucci and Darwin descendant filmmaker Matthew Chapman. There’s also an ongoing series of lectures sponsored by Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Science and Religion, culminating in a February 12th talk by philosopher Philip Kitcher on the threat posed by ID creationism. There is also a half day February 12th symposium on Darwin’s relevance to modern biology at Queens College of the City University of New York.

Best,

John

Almost enough to make me wish I lived in the metropolitan area.

If anyone else wants to announce public events that relate to Darwin Day and take place in major cities, it would probably be appropriate to do so here.

Actually not as impressive as what the University of Pennsylvania is doing on February 12th and 13th at its anthropological and archaeological museum:

Matt Young said:

Almost enough to make me wish I lived in the metropolitan area.

If anyone else wants to announce public events that relate to Darwin Day and take place in major cities, it would probably be appropriate to do so here.

I don’t have the URL handy, but that Thursday will feature talks from Jerry Coyne and Ken Miller. Both will also be attending a Field Museum celebration that weekend in Chicago, along of course, Neil Shubin.

The URL for the Columbia University series, which is located off campus at a church on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is:

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cssr/Dar[…]eofFaith.pdf

The next schedule speaker is journalist Jonathan Weiner, who is speaking tonight on Peter and Rosemary Grant’s ongoing work studying the microevolution of Darwin’s Finches. On February 12th, as I noted before, eminent philosopher of science Philip Kitcher will be speaking about ID creationism.

The URL for New York City Skeptics, which has the event information for Saturday’s Darwin Day event is:

http://www.nycskeptics.org

John Kwok said:

I attended a pre-Darwin Day event at AMNH yesterday.…

John, that means you were just two blocks from the Unitarian Universalist church I attend: the Fourth Universalist Society. My father is a UU minister, and I think he’s a signatory, but I’ll have to see if my minister has added her name to the list.

No, not tonight (I expect to be present at Kitcher’s lecture, however.). I was attending a jazz concert at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York instead:

Matt G said:

John Kwok said:

I attended a pre-Darwin Day event at AMNH yesterday.…

John, that means you were just two blocks from the Unitarian Universalist church I attend: the Fourth Universalist Society. My father is a UU minister, and I think he’s a signatory, but I’ll have to see if my minister has added her name to the list.

Matt, disregard my late night posting please. I presume you’re referring to that church on Central Park West, just due south of the New-York Historical Society (and AMNH):

Matt G said:

John Kwok said:

I attended a pre-Darwin Day event at AMNH yesterday.…

John, that means you were just two blocks from the Unitarian Universalist church I attend: the Fourth Universalist Society. My father is a UU minister, and I think he’s a signatory, but I’ll have to see if my minister has added her name to the list.

Regarding the bicentennial of Charles Darwin there are some interesting stuffs and souvenirs at the following link:

http://www.cafepress.com/gaijin_arts/666171

Happy Birthday, Charles!

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on February 1, 2009 8:53 PM.

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