by Greg Mayer
The New York Times reports that Rep. Rush Holt (D-New Jersey) has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to support the designation of February 12, 2013 as Darwin Day. Holt, a former research physicist and Jeopardy champion, represents Princeton, New Jersey, where his supporters, with a slight exaggeration, sport bumper stickers proclaiming “My Congressman IS a Rocket Scientist“. Holt worked with the American Humanist Association in introducing the resolution, H.Res. 41, on January 22, and 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.
Holt once told the Times, “420 [of the House's 435 members] don’t know much about science and choose not to. … We know more than our colleagues, but not more than they could know.” (The “we” refers to Holt, Bill Foster (D-Illinois), and Vernon Ehlers (R-Michigan), the only physicists in congress; Ehlers has since retired.) Curiously, the Times chose to emphasize the fact that Holt is a Quaker in its coverage, even putting the article in its “Beliefs” section. The Times also notes in the same article that the Worst-Congressman-Ever ™, Paul Broun (R-Georgia), is going to run for the Senate in 2014. Here’s the text of the resolution; note that it mentions global warming denialism as well as creationism:
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
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.
Given that it’s already February 3, I suspect no action will be taken by the House on the resolution.