Darwin Day talk

February 5, 2011 • 8:26 am

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, and every year biologists—and the enlightened public—celebrate “Darwin Day” on or near that day.  Next Thursday, on February 10, I’m giving the keynote address for Darwin Day at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.  It’s at 6:30 p.m. at the Timmerman Auditorium, and the topic is, of course, evolution—and why so many Americans oppose it.  Drop by if you’re in the area.

I haven’t found any public announcement of the talk (those dudes at Whitewater are LAX!), so this is the only information I have.

The Darwin Day website has a list of this week’s events throughout the U.S. Just type in your zip code and see what’s happening near you. (The Whitewater event is not listed there, either.)

18 thoughts on “Darwin Day talk

  1. The events near me are terribly accomodationist. There might be a little more accomodationism than I am comfortable with.


    “An ongoing goal has been to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic, and to show that religion and science are not adversaries. Rather, they look at the natural world from quite different perspectives and ask, and answer, different questions.”

    However, I wonder if in this setting it might do more good than harm. If evolution is presented accurately it should encourage questions and doubt in the participants.

    1. Surely if there is a discussion, it is about whether religion and science are adversaries. “Showing that” something predetermined is the case is what religions claim to do.

      And what questions does religion (as distinct from mainstream Christianity) answer? Indeed, what questions does mainstream Christianity answer about the natural world? That zombies walked the streeds of Jerusalem one afternoon in 33 CE?

  2. Wait…so you’re going from Chicago to WISCONSIN? In the middle of February?

    What, couldn’t you get invited to speak in Florida? Or the Bahamas?

    Public speaking: Ur doong it rong.

  3. Like earlier commenters I’ve found that 11 of the 12 events within 100 miles of my location are in churches. The only event within 25 miles is at a Unitarian church and offers this description:

    “Religious people from many diverse faith traditions and locations around the world understand that evolution is quite simply sound science; and for them, it does not in any way threaten, demean, or diminish their faith in God. In fact, for many, the wonders of science often enhance and deepen their awe and gratitude towards God.

    Instead, the information and understanding gained through legitimate scientific inquiry can be of significant help to people of faith in better understanding this wonderful planet that we live on – its beauties and wonders, as well as the many environmental threats to the health of both natural and human communities. Science can thus be of assistance to religious leaders and communities, as they seek to fulfill their calling to care for the Earth, through more informed advocacy and actions.

    Through sermons, discussion groups, meaningful conversations and seminars, the leaders listed below show that religion and science are not adversaries. ”

    This is an example of almost literally preaching to the choir as the ‘meaningful conversations’ are clearly aimed at assuaging doubts about religion not at gaining a better understanding of evolution.

    It’s better than nothing. But only just.

  4. There’s both a Darwin Day and an Evolution Weekend. The Wikipedia page for Evolution Weekend (Evolution Sunday)says that it began in 2006 and was founded by an atheist, Michael Zimmerman.

    Found in the latest(Feb 4)”evolution education update” email from NCSE:

    “Hundreds of congregations [575 at last count–the article says] all over the country and around the world are taking part in Evolution Weekend, February 11-13, 2011, by presenting sermons and discussion groups on the compatibility of faith and science. Michael Zimmerman, the initiator of the project, writes, ‘Evolution
    Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the
    relationship between religion and science.

    Finally, as with The Clergy Letter itself, Evolution Weekend makes it
    clear that those claiming that people must choose between religion and
    science are creating a false dichotomy.'”

    1. Just for starters:

      In the online Oxford dictionary, we find “supernatural”:”(of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature: a supernatural being”

      From the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry for “abiogenesis”:
      “Matter, then, can never, not even under the most favorable circumstances, produce either living cells or living biophorids, and hence we conclude that life owes its origin to God, the Creator of matter and energy.”

      Of course, any and every use of “God did it,” whether creation, setting constants, answering prayers, or miracles, involves violation of science through the violation of known scientific generalizations or of the possibility of finding a natural answer. f=ma claims truth in all instances, and that it doesn’t flicker on and off–from true to false to true again. Also, the Bible’s misology (distrust or hatred of reason)is clear.

  5. I really do have to let it be known that this is also my wedding anniversary! IT will be 29 years (I was a child bride ;-))

  6. The stuff at Churches is for “Evolution Weekend” which is a strictly accomodationist project started in 2006 for the pious–started, BTW, by an atheist. There have been some celebrations for Darwin’s birthday for many years.

    It looks like the churches are good at registering Evolution Weekend events. For example, there are plenty of Evolution Weekend events, at the dens of the pious, registered for zip 94704 in Berkeley but there’s a Darwin Day event at the UC Berkeley campus which isn’t registered.

    1. I sent an email to the event’s email address giving the Foundation’s registration page URL. Maybe that’ll get the event registered.

  7. As a UWW student I have set multiple alarms so as to definitely, certainly not forget. Looking forward to attending your talk!

  8. Wow,

    Milwaukee area has a lot more stuff going on than Chicago. Jerry, what’s up with that? I know that some folks are a little uncomfortable with the accomodationists, but at least there’s discussion and recognition of our hero. And perhaps these events might provide some forum to take a stand against teleological thinking.

Leave a Reply