Darwin Day

Yesterday I read a post on Heaving Dead Cats [great blog by the way] asking people to support House Resolution 81 in designating February 12 as Darwin Day.  The resolution, put forward by Representative Pete Stark, D-CA, our lone self-acknowledged atheist in congress, seeks to recognize the anniversary of Darwin’s birth to recognize the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.  [Full text of H.R. 81 here]

Seemed pretty innocuous when I put the link up – who is against science?  Who’s against Darwin?  Oh, yeah, I forgot…I live in America, land of the blue and red, and in those red swaths of America apparently there are many out there that are not only anti-Darwin, but anti-science.

Darwin, amazingly, is vilified for his evolution theory.  Good Christians, especially in this country, view Darwin as a threat to God and the Bible.  Many like to take humorous license to poke fun at evolution and the founder of the science by placing anti-Darwin/anti-evolution bumper stickers on their cars, hoisting images such as this one.  Others however, try to stigmatize a man that has been gone from this earth for almost 130 years, by painting him as a Nazi-forerunner.  Check out this link for a wide variety of anti-Darwin images

Darwin was a scientist and more aptly, a natural scientist.  While “raised” in the church in England in the 19th century, he was a noted freethinker, but not an anti-Christian.  He did not seek an alternative answer to mans existence when he arrived in the Galapagos – he simply observed and then analyzed his observations.  Based on his science and his publications, by the time of his death, Darwin was a national hero worthy of a state funeral and internment in Westminster Abbey.

Darwin passed in 1882, but The Origins of Species had ushered in a new age of scientific thought that began to question the biblical origins of man.  Darwin had become a de facto threat to Christianity – by 1915 a revisionist version of his death was presented to show Darwin rejected evolution and embraced Jesus on his death bed.  The revisionist history has long since been debunked, although some evolution haters still cling to the false idea that he accepted Christ at his death. 

My friend, Steve – who sometimes comments/rebuts my ramblings in this forum – took a poke at my Facebook link saying:

 “Sean, if nontheists want complete separation of Gov and religion, then shouldn’t the atheist view also be separated? Atheism is a foerm [sic] by dictionary term,, a religion. A group of common beliefs?”

He had several other running posts that followed his original that I’ve since deleted as his main point was captured here; but I appreciated his posting as it provides an opportunity to dispel bad assumptions.
First, atheism is not a religion…[let that hang and linger a moment for it to sink in].  Nontheists, with the many labels used to describe themselves, are in fact, by definition, the very opposite of religion.  I could go on ad nauseam as to why atheism is not a religion, but I’ll defer to Austin Cline, whom I would have quoted liberally in my explanation.
Second, I’ve already covered why the government should adopt an agnostic view toward religion in general, thereby fulfilling it’s pledge of not only providing freedom of religion but also to protect it’s citizenry from religion.  In a perfect world, Steve would be correct.  But we do not live in a perfect world, we live in 21st century America which continues through a culture war of religion and moral values as dictated by a book and philosophy that was piece-mealed together some 1,600+ years ago.  As religion remains such a high priority of the conservative right, so much so that in order to burnish Christian bona fides, Congress feels it necessary to reaffirm In God We Trust” as the national motto and put that motto in all public buildings, including schools – as if the first time the motto was adopted in the 1950’s wasn’t enough…
What all this really boils down to is the argument of creationism versus evolution in America’s public schools.  This is why Darwin is so hated by the religious right.  Evolution has filled a giant God gap and leaves remaining gaps smaller and smaller to fill and creationists are fighting back as hard as possible to open the gap for God – at the expense of our children’s education.  That Darwin’s birthday is tomorrow, and a conservative-dominated House would have to pass this resolution, which isn’t going to happen, is just another example of the culture war.
I should note in closing that I have numerous Christian friends and that I do my absolute best to not offend the Christian belief system out of my respect for my friendships.  I’ve always felt that attacking any belief system, be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc., is counterproductive – largely due to the fact that belief can not be argued with facts or logic – if it could be, it would not be a belief but a certainty.  Moreover, religion may give people the strength and sense of goodwill unto others that if it were removed…  However, where I do draw the line is pointing out issues and topics where a religious agenda infringes upon my freedoms from religion, where moral hypocrisy takes place and blind eyes are turned for political reasons, and where I put up a posting that reflects my values and get called on it.  Thanks Steve – I owe you one 🙂

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5 Responses to Darwin Day

  1. Anonymous says:

    Enjoying your blog as always, Sean. I have little to say but I believe this is important: You mention that you can not argue belief with facts and logic. But I will say this as a Christian (who does not get upset by offensive verbiage, and I don't think your blog is ever offensive) that the life of Jesus the Christ is fact. Furthermore, His performance of miracles is also factual. I can say this not because I am born again, but because the evidence supports it. Neither the Sanhedrin nor the Sadducees disputed His miracles. On the contrary they openly admitted to them as many were witnesses, even to the raising of the dead. They were more afraid of being usurped and therefore accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath by performing miracles on that holy day. Like-wise it appears the Romans did not dispute them as Herod knew of and wanted to see His "tricks", surely having been told of them by witnesses. Now, as I understand it, the strongest argument FOR something occurring in history is when your enemy agrees with you. This appears to be the case regarding the miracles of Christ. Perhaps the only argument left for the non-believer is to reject the scriptures as a historical document. But that too would be a hard argument to make. My 2 cents.Sean Byrd

  2. Sean Asbury says:

    Sean – As always, thanks for reading and I'm happy that you can enjoy my rants!What I was trying to get across, with regard to facts and logic was this. Historical Jesus most likely existed. In that, I mean that a man known as Jesus, most likely was born in Judea and lived during that time period. That man preached of change in conditions, politically and economically and had miracles attributed to him. The historical record of Josephus and the letters of Paul are the most contemporary accounts of his life. The Gospels we know today were written many decades and possibly a century after his death. These do not measure as eye witness accounts, although there unarguably had to exist a Christ legend that was orally passed down during those years.Having spent considerable time in the Middle East, including Israel, I can tell you there is a cultural bias toward exaggeration – at least as we are familiar with it. The Jesus legend could have [emphasis on could] easily been manipulated like the story of Paul Bunyan or Johnny Appleseed – tales that grew taller over time – we are not immune from exaggeration here either :)During the time of Jesus there were many, many, many miracle workers and preachers – historically speaking. What we have are accounts, not necessarily eye-witness accounts, of these miracles and there is no way to test these accounts outside of the gospels, which can be suspect, by some…Additionally, there were many gospels written during that time period. There were Gospels of Mary Magdeline, Thomas, Phillip just to name a few – The Gnostic Texts are an interesting read – and they paint a different, but not unfavorable view of Jesus. These Gospels were intentionally left out of the Bible as we know it, but they had many adherents in the 2nd, 3rd, and into the 4th centuries. When they were not recognized by the early Catholic church, the followers of these Jesus sects were labeled Heretics and the gospels heresy – they were killed by the church for not conforming with the selected texts.My point is this – you can view the gospels as factual, but even then, there is a leap of faith required (or belief) that Jesus was not simply a man, but the actual son of God, who preformed miracles and saved man from sin. Factually, in my opinion, that is impossible to discern. The fact that you believe it is unarguable. I may disagree with your belief, but your faith in your belief is such a sacrosanct human right, it's untouchable 🙂

  3. steve says:

    Sean, for darn sure i participate in responding to your posts because i enjoy the debate, i respect your view, and i have a "2 cent" or two to add.But, my friend, i am not a " muse ", i dim witted toy/clown. I , and you, believe, in what we choose to believe. Both , legal and protected. And, i served to protect both of our rights to choose. Steve

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your response (Where do you get the time!? I'm really impressed.) I just wanted to say I do agree with your "leap of faith" idea/position/posite what have you. However, I prefer to call it an "indwelling" of the Holy Spirit. Scripture says that understanding there is salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ is foolishness to the World (1 Cor 1:18, et al.) One can only gain an understanding of the Cross by the indwelling…or "leap of faith." -Sean ByrdP.S. In the interest of full disclosure, and for what it's worth, I consider my self a Calvinist.

  5. Neece says:

    Well said, Sean. I agree! Darwin was an amazing scientist and it's sad that he is seen as such a threat.I also agree that you can't reason against religion. Faith is proudly blind and doesn't mix well with reason and logic. But denying evolution and the great work of Darwin and all who came before and after him is crazy, in the sense that we all use the benefits of the science that have bettered our lives and our world.

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