Evolution Weekend and Darwin's Bicentennial

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 (mz@butler.edu). 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 (mz@butler.edu) 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 mz@butler.edu. 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.”