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Darwin Day resolution in Congress

Rush HoltRush Holt

House Resolution 41, introduced in the United States House of Representatives on January 22, 2013, would, if passed, express the House's support of designating February 12, 2013, 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." Rush Holt (D-New Jersey), one of the few members of Congress with a Ph.D. in a scientific field, is the sole sponsor of the bill. After its introduction, H. Res. 41 was referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Holt, in a January 23, 2013, press release from the American Humanist Association, commented, "Only very rarely in human history has someone uncovered a fundamentally new way of thinking about the world – an insight so revolutionary that it has made possible further creative and explanatory thinking. Without Charles Darwin, our modern understandings of biology, ecology, genetics, and medicine would be utterly impossible, and our comprehension of the world around us would be vastly poorer. By recognizing Darwin Day, we can honor the importance of scientific thinking in our lives, and we can celebrate one of our greatest thinkers.”

Except for the date, H. Res. 41 is identical to 2011's H. Res. 81, introduced by Pete Stark (D-California) on February 9, 2011. Explaining the earlier resolution, Stark said (PDF), "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." Like H. Res. 41, H. Res. 81 was referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. From there, it proceeded to the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, where it eventually died.

"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. 41." 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. 41, but don't neglect the many ways to defend the teaching of evolution locally."


H. RES. 41

Expressing support for designation of February 12, 2013, as Darwin Day and recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 22, 2013

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

RESOLUTION.

Expressing support for designation of February 12, 2013, 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, 2013, 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.