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Darwin Day resolution in Congress

Pete StarkPete Stark

House Resolution 81, introduced in the United States House of Representatives on February 9, 2011, would, if passed, express the House's support of designating February 12, 2011, as Darwin Day, and its recognition of "Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge." Pete Stark (D-California) was originally the sole sponsor of the bill; he was later joined by Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts). After its introduction, H. Res. 81 was referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and then to the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education.

Introducing the resolution, Stark commented (PDF), "Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, and his life has had a profound impact on the course of human history. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection has not only provided a compelling explanation for the diversity of life, it is also the foundation of modern biology and genetics. Darwin exemplified the scientific curiosity that has led to new scientific breakthroughs that have helped humanity solve numerous problems and improve our quality of life. Charles Darwin is worthy of recognition and honor. His birthday should be a time for us to celebrate the advancement of human knowledge and the achievements of reason and science."

Stark told the San Jose Mercury (February 11, 2011) that he was "just trying to get people to understand that we're trying to get our kids to be scientists, were pushing for green jobs and green development, and you can't stick your head in the sand and not recognize that we're in a modern age. To get there, it seems to me, we have to understand that science is all part of what we're doing." The resolution was promptly endorsed by the American Humanist Association and the Center for Inquiry. The Mercury's reporter predicted that the resolution would fail, however: "in this conservative, Republican-dominated House," he quipped, "it'll surely be deemed not fit to survive."

"I'm glad to see a Congressional proposal to recognize the importance of Darwin and of the teaching of evolution," commented NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott, "and I encourage members and friends of NCSE to urge their representatives to support H. Res. 81." Alluding to Michael B. Berkman and Eric Plutzer's recent commentary in Science, she added, "But let's remember that the real action occurs in the classroom, where 13% of high school biology teachers are explicitly advocating creationism and 60% are sadly reluctant to teach evolution in the way that the scientific community understands it. Support H. Res. 81, but don't neglect the many ways to defend the teaching of evolution locally."


H. RES. 81

Expressing support for designation of February 12, 2011, as Darwin Day and recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 9, 2011

Mr. STARK submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

RESOLUTION.

Expressing support for designation of February 12, 2011, as Darwin Day and recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity..

Whereas Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by the mechanism of natural selection, together with the monumental amount of scientific evidence he compiled to support it, provides humanity with a logical and intellectually compelling explanation for the diversity of life on Earth;.

Whereas the validity of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is further strongly supported by the modern understanding of the science of genetics;.

Whereas it has been the human curiosity and ingenuity exemplified by Darwin that has promoted new scientific discoveries that have helped humanity solve many problems and improve living conditions;.

Whereas the advancement of science must be protected from those unconcerned with the adverse impacts of global warming and climate change;.

Whereas the teaching of creationism in some public schools compromises the scientific and academic integrity of the United States' education systems;.

Whereas Charles Darwin is a worthy symbol of scientific advancement on which to focus and around which to build a global celebration of science and humanity intended to promote a common bond among all of Earth's peoples; and.

Whereas, February 12, 2011, is the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 1809 and would be an appropriate date to designate as Darwin Day: Now, therefore, be it.

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--.

(1) supports the designation of Darwin Day; and.

(2) recognizes Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge.