Atheists Applaud Rep. Holt for Darwin Day Resolution, Fights to Protect Evolution in Public Schools

WASHINGTON, DC-The Secular Coalition for America joins the American Humanist Association in commending Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) for his introduction of a resolution to recognize February 12 as Darwin Day, and encouraging additional representatives to sponsor the resolution.

The resolution would recognize the anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth as an annual worldwide celebration of science and humanity. Darwin proposed the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection and detailed the scientific theory in his book "On the Origin of Species."

Rep. Holt worked with the American Humanist Association to introduce the resolution. The American Humanist Association is one of the Secular Coalition's 11 member organizations.

Secular Coalition for America Executive Director, Edwina Rogers, said the organization is working to protect the teaching of evolution in public schools at both at the federal and state levels.

"The teaching of evolution in schools is under constant attack especially at the state level," Rogers said. "We are working to ensure that our children are being taught science-not theology-in our public schools, with taxpayer dollars."

The Secular Coalition for America is in the process of rolling out chapters in every state to lobby at the state level on issues such as protecting the teaching of evolution in public schools. Recent examples of attacks on the teaching of evolution include "model legislation" which attempts to create a false scientific controversy around the theory of evolution in an effort to introduce the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools. The legislation was passed last year in Tennessee and Louisiana and has now been introduced in Montana and Colorado. The Secular Coalition recently introduced state chapters in both Colorado and Montana.

An October 2002 poll of 460 university science professors found that between 90 and 97 percent of professors knew of no valid evidence or alternate scientific theory that challenges the fundamental principles of the theory of evolution. Furthermore, over 400 scientists have endorsed the statement "although there are legitimate scientific debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is not serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism of evolution."

American Humanist Association Executive Director, Roy Speckhardt, said the resolution symbolizes the continued importance of science in the public arena.

"When President Obama emphasized the importance of science during his inauguration speech this week, he was also voicing support for the scientific discoveries pioneers like Charles Darwin made," Speckhardt explained. "Darwin changed our understanding of life itself by showing the world, through science and reason, how nature shapes our existence."

Rep. Holt told the American Humanist Association, "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."

The International Darwin Day Foundation is a project of the American Humanist Association. The website www.darwinday.org provides resources and information on celebrating Darwin Day. Groups from all over the world hold Darwin Day events in the days surrounding February 12.

 

CONTACT: Lauren Anderson Youngblood, SCA Communications Manager at lauren@secular.org or (202)299-1091 ext. 205, cell (202)630-9725

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