Presidential Recognition for Darwin Day?

Darwin Day 2010

There’s a campaign/petition afoot from the American Humanist Association to get President Obama to officially declare February 12th as Darwin Day. The AHA is the official organization in charge of Darwin Day. The petition:

As an American who values scientific inquiry and integrity, I urge you to issue a presidential proclamation recognizing Darwin Day on February 12. Darwin Day is celebrated every year on the anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday in 1809, and is a day in which people gather together to commemorate his life and work. Charles Darwin was the first to propose the groundbreaking scientific theory of evolution by natural selection—a theory that has done more to unify and bring understanding to the life sciences than any other—and Darwin Day is a celebration of this discovery and of scientific progress.

I believe that issuing this proclamation will send a powerful message that scientific discovery and integrity in our society are top priorities—priorities that are needed now more than ever as extremists with narrow ideological agendas are attempting to undermine science in our schools.

Please stand with me and countless others who value science and discovery by issuing the following or a similar proclamation on Darwin Day.

A Proclamation

Charles Darwin was the first to propose the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection. On Darwin Day, celebrated on the anniversary of Darwin’s birth on February 12, 1809, we celebrate the life and discoveries of Charles Darwin and express gratitude for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity.

It is sobering to imagine where the human race would be today without advances in science. Science has helped us to live longer by enabling us to find cures for diseases and alleviating pain and suffering. It has allowed us to travel before unimaginable distances, to interact with and understand people of other cultures and recognize what makes us similar as well as what makes us unique. It has allowed us to understand and maneuver in our world and has provided us insight into the complexities of life.

Charles Darwin recognized the importance and power of scientific discovery, and perhaps no one has influenced our understanding about life on earth as much as he. Darwin was an English naturalist, who on his legendary five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle made important observations about the geological and zoological diversity of the lands he visited, which helped spark his theory of evolution by natural selection. Most of what we understand about the diversity of life and the process by which it has adapted and changed has come from his profound insights, and his contribution to the canons of science cannot be overstated.

On this anniversary of Darwin’s birthday, it is important to recognize the contributions he has made to the advancement of science. It is also important that we continue to educate future generations about evolution by natural selection in our science classrooms. We must not water down the significance of Darwin’s theory, nor the breadth of evidence supporting it, and we must at every turn challenge efforts to undermine science so that we can keep alive in our children and grandchildren the wonder of discovery and the eagerness to obtain knowledge.

Now, Therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 12, 2010, as Darwin Day. I call on all Americans to recognize the importance of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection, to endeavor to preserve scientific discovery and human curiosity as bedrocks of American society, and to commemorate this day with appropriate events and activities. In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twelfth day of February, two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

I signed it. The petition has almost 3,000 signatures, but needs more. Click here to sign it, follow the American Humanist Association (@americnhumanist) on Twitter and retweet their tweets about the petition, and join their Facebook group and spread the petition there as well (and attend the event, too). And it probably wouldn’t hurt to mention it on your blog!

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