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Guess what day it is.
If you answered Lincoln’s birthday, you’re way behind the cultural cutting edge. To many in academia, today is Darwin Day. It turns out that the fellow who proposed the theory of evolution was born on the same day in the same year as the man who freed the slaves.
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But why shove a genuine moral hero out of the limelight and replace him with an egghead? To hear supporters of Darwin Day tell it, it’s because science. Darwin greatly advanced our understanding of the way the world worked, you see, so much so that everyone just has to celebrate. Oddly, no clamor is heard for, say, a Newton Day or an Einstein Day — not even a day for Edward Jenner, whose invention of vaccination saved countless millions of lives.
Today is also the day that the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank (I’m a senior member), is announcing that the number of signatories to its “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism” list — who “are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life” — has now surpassed a thousand. A thousand may not seem like many in these days of instant internet polls, but not just anyone can sign it. To be eligible, a person has to have a doctorate in the natural sciences or in a technical field such as medicine or computer science. That ensures signatories have the background to evaluate technical arguments.
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Pretty peculiar, though, isn’t it? Why collect signatures to register skepticism about a scientific theory? It’s not as if the truth of a theory can be decided by popular vote. And it wouldn’t be hard to get many more than a thousand signatures of PhDs swearing they are positive down to their toes that...
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