Congressman Rush Holt Releases Statement on House Floor Recognizing Darwin Day
Yesterday supporters of science and reason marked the 204th birthday of Charles Darwin as part of International Darwin Day, a project of the American Humanist Association, with hundreds of events around the world. In the United States, Congressman Rush Holt (NJ) formally introduced House Resolution 41 “expressing support for the designation of February 12, 2013 as Darwin Day” on the House floor.
The International Darwin Day Foundation (www.darwinday.org) is a project of the American Humanist Association. Its mission is to promote the public education of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and to encourage the celebration of science and humanity.
“The passage of Rep. Rush Holt’s proposed resolution in Congress would send a strong message to the world that the United States supports science education,” said American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt. “Charles Darwin’s significant contributions to the advancement of science and our understanding of the world deserve recognition.”
The American Humanist Association worked with Rep. Holt and his staff on the bill and lobbied support from fellow House members. To date, the effort has garnered the support of seven co-sponsors: Rep. Michael Capuano (MA), Rep. Mike Honda (CA), Rep. Ed Markey (MA), Del. Eleanor Norton (DC), Rep. Jared Polis (CO), Rep. Charles Rangel (NY), and Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY) and was referred to the House Science, Space and Technology committee.
The first attempt at getting recognition for Darwin Day in the U.S. Congress occurred in 2011 and was submitted by former Rep. Pete Stark of California.
“There is no valid excuse for failing to recognize the person behind one of the top scientific discoveries of all time. This worldwide annual event was developed to make sure Charles Darwin and his contributions to science are honored,” Speckhardt continued.
The Canadian cities of Vancouver and Regina have issued Darwin Day proclamations, and Asheville, North Carolina City Council Member Cecil Bothwell will be introducing one at the council’s regular meeting this evening.
Charles Darwin’s evolutionary discovery of natural selection as the basis for biological transformations responsible for the diversity of life on earth is the foundation of modern biology, genetics, and medicine. Other areas of science and the humanities can also trace advancements to Darwin’s ideas. Since his publication On the Origin of Species in 1859, additional advances in knowledge have fine-tuned and repeatedly verified his insights.
The transcript of Rep. Rush Holt’s speech is below:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the birth of Charles Darwin.
Only rarely in human history has someone shown a fundamentally new way of thinking about the world, an insight so revolutionary that it has made possible further creative and explanatory thinking.
In my previous field of physics, we have Galileo and Newton and Einstein. In biology, at the top of any list would be Charles Darwin.
Without his insights – without his recognition that natural selection enables ever-increasing complexity and functionality and enables the development of ever-more wonderful forms of life – our modern understandings of biology, ecology, genetics, and medicine would be impossible, and our comprehension of the world around us would be vastly poorer.
I’ve introduced a resolution to honor February 12th as a ceremonial Darwin Day to recognize the importance of scientific thinking in our lives and to honor one of humankind’s greatest thinkers.