Happy Birthday to both Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, a day late of course. A 200th birthday is just nothing to sneeze about. Both men made life-altering contributions to mankind. We celebrate Lincoln’s birthday annually, so let’s concentrate on Charles Darwin.

Charles Darwin wrote his work On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection almost 150 years ago. Basically, the work questioned the way most people, regardless of education level, thought about their existence and the existence of the world around them.

One of the major events that questioned Darwin’s ideas was what is now known as the Scopes Monkey Trial. The Scopes ‘Monkey’ Trial took place in 1925. That trial that took place in Dayton, Tennessee could almost be billed as one of the most famous of the 20th century. Two legal giants squared off: Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan.

So what was it all over? A young teacher, John Thomas Scopes was a physics teacher who more or less got coerced into being a test case himself. It was against the law in Tennessee to teach evolution or any science that denied the creation story. So, according to historical records in Rhea County, Tennessee:

In the spring of 1925, John Thomas Scopes was a twenty-four year old science teacher at Rhea County High School in Dayton. Among the discussions in the wake of the Tennessee evolution law were those which took place in Dayton at Robinson’s Drug Store on Market Street, a favorite gathering place for local citizens. There a small group headed by Earle Robinson, “The Hustling Druggist”, and George Rappleyea, Superintendent of Dayton Coal & Iron Company, “conspired” with young Scopes to violate the Tennessee statute to provide a court test case. The original context for the plan appears to have been that of a publicity stunt. The interest and resulting world-wide publicity which quickly developed surprised even the event’s planners. The original drug store table at which the decision was made on May 15, 1925 to make a test case is still on view today in the Scopes Museum in the basement of the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee.

Young Scopes was arrested in a friendly way and brought to trail. The media converged on the small town in Tennessee as did the eyes of the nation and about 10,000 spectators. (one must ask one’s self where they all managed to stay in a small town.) There was much grand-standing between two megalomaniacs who had been trying to out-orator each other for decades.

To make a long story short, Scopes lost. He was fined $100 which was later overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court on a technicality. Bryan the fundamentalist died in his sleep 5 days after the trial, and Darrow the agnostic returned to Chicago where he died in 1938. And people kept fighting about evolution to this very day.

Some 80 plus years later people still argue over this very topic: Should evolution or creationism be taught in public schools? In fact, the fight might even be more ferocious than it was 80 years ago. According to the Pew Research Center:

… Beginning in the 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a number of decisions that imposed severe restrictions on those state governments that opposed the teaching of evolution. As a result of these rulings, school boards, legislatures and government bodies are now barred from prohibiting the teaching of evolution. Teaching creation science, either along with evolutionary theory or in place of it, is also banned

The issue even came up in the 2008 presidential campaign. During one of the first Republican debates, candidates were asked to raise their hands if they believed in creationism. As I recall, 3 candidates raised their hands and defended creationism as an almost science.

The above chart shows how Americans feel about evolution by religion. The real test of evolution vs. creationism is how animals are viewed. People who do not believe in evolution believe that animals appeared as we see them now when they first appeared on earth. In other words, a giraffe was a giraffe. Man was man. He looked no different than he does now, nothing evolved.

Most scientists balk at creation being used as scientific fact. The Pew Research Center states:

This view is not shared by the nation’s scientists, most of whom contend that evolution is a well-established scientific theory that convincingly explains the origins and development of life on earth. Moreover, they say, a scientific theory is not a hunch or a guess but is instead an established explanation for a natural phenomenon, like gravity, that has repeatedly been tested through observation and experimentation. Indeed, most scientists argue that, for all practical purposes, evolution through natural selection is the accepted theory of life in general.

Perhaps we should be glad that right now all the PWC School Board has to contend with is Math Investigations. I always thought math was pretty cut and dry and without social connotation. Apparently I was wrong. Somehow elementary math has become political Is this Math Investigations the new Scopes Monkey Trial? This time, I want a ring-side seat.  Should curriculum be political?  Who should determine curriculum?  Parents?  Paid professionals?  If parents choose materials and programs for math, when will they demand to return to teaching creationism?  Is there a difference?  Inquiring minds….

31 Thoughts to “Happy Birthday, Darwin”

  1. michael

    Oh, the joy of being the first on a blog to comment…Moonhowler you picked my favorite subject to talk about….good for you, nothing like promoting intelligent debate.

  2. michael

    I once had a very heated discussion with a creationist, both of us were Christians…

    I realized a simple fact… When you question the origin of man, you cause a Christian to question the very existance of God (without his understanding that God has created nature to be what he wants it to be, and it is what it is, and therefore Science must always match Religion if you are a believer in God.)

    You cannot win this argument…so you shouldn’t have it, unless it makes both realities possible. Science (nature) exists and so does God…

    Questioning the origin of Man, is very threatening to a Christian, because you threaten what he is most afraid of…Life after death. This is fundamentally why he is a Christian in the first place and ALL religions have the religious belief of this as the central theme…Mans fear of death has created different religions for thousands of years (some 5000 different religions over the total history of man’s self awareness)

    Here is how you resolve it…

  3. michael

    You can’t make it either or… Evolution exists or God exists, or put the other way Evolution exists proving God does not exist, does not work either.

    Very few people can accept the possibility that both can be true… but here is the rationale…

  4. Alanna

    I don’t believe in evolution.

  5. michael

    Possibility 1.

    God exists, and scripture is accurate, God promises life after death if you simply believe in him. If you do not, he cannot live with you and cannot forgive this one unforgivable sin. All men came from Adam, when Adam was first created (according to Jewish and Islamic records, around 8,000 BC to 5,000 BC.) There is no evolution, all animals were created and there is no change (ever).

    Possibility 2.
    God exists, and scripture is inaccurate. God promises life after death if you simply believe in him. If you do not, he cannot live with you and cannot forgive this one unforgivable sin. Man did not come from Adam (his DNA was not the first, the first DNA came from a tribe of less than 10,000 survivors of 5 ice ages, with evolutionary survival and development of the brain caused by the ice ages, the last of which was the Wisconsian Ice Age 12,000 years ago, Man made successive waves out of Africa (upper nile river) about 60,000 years ago, man itself was self-aware about 1.6 million years ago (as homo-hablis and could talk, think and make tools), but Adam was a real man (a Priest of neolithic tribes) living in the Valley of Eden (Gan Eden), in northern Iraq, near Cush and Nod, between the headwaters of the Tigris, Euphrates, Gihon and Pishon rivers around 10,000-8,000 years ago. The early religions of that region built temples in Turkey (Gobekli), occassionally sacrificed their children, and the verbal history of that early religion made it into the Jewish Torah, and first books of the Old Testament and Koran.
    The real story and origin of man is in the fossil records of Australopithicus, Homo-Hablis, Homo-Erectus, Neanderthal, Cro-magnon and Homo-Sapiens over a period of 3.0 Million years, and in our DNA markers tracking an original DNA marker out of Africa to Iran/Turkey/Afganistan/Kurgistan/Ubekistan and east to China/India/Australia/Alaska and NorthAmerica/South America and west to Urals/France/North America/South America. All life (is composed of cooperative cells) and all cells evolve based on survival of DNA traits that improve chances for the organisms reproduction. Organisms that go extinct have DNA mistakes that do not survive to reproduction. The universe lives for 100 Trillion years (it is only 15Billion years old), evolves to nothing but huge compact black holes (with no radient energy) and starts over in a large explosion.

    Possibility 3

    God does not exist and scripture is made up, because man is afraid of death, and all religions were created to give man a hope for life after death (by doing works or believing in God). Man will die in isolation, cold and dark, return to dissassociated molecules and photons, and there is no afterlife, only the brief existance of life. The universe lives for 100 Trillion years (it is only 15Billion years old), evolves to nothing but huge compact black holes (with no radient energy) and starts over in a large explosion.

    Possibility 4

    God does not exist, and scripture is made up to appease man’s self-image that there is a thing greater than himself. Man came from a primordial but natural shared intelligence called mother nature. Nature came into being all on its own, nature created life after evolving 15 billion years and created a self aware intellect, that evolves based on survival of DNA traits that improve chances for reproduction. When man dies, an unknown life force we have not yet discovered, allows man to return to an original conciousness, shared by all beings and all living things. Organisms that go extinct have DNA mistakes that do not survive to reproduction. The universe lives for 100 Trillion years (it is only 15Billion years old), evolves to nothing but huge compact black holes (with no radient energy) and starts over in a large explosion.

    If you believe in any one of these, you will never win an argument with anyone who believes in any other possibility.

    I personnally believe in possibility 2, as it is the most supported by existing evidence and reasoning that favors eternal life. (I would be a fool not to seek eternal life if it was possible)

    So Moon-howler, math is decided in school, much the same way, the practical scientist duking ot out with the impractical spiritualist or rock worshiper (humans come in all intellectual types, and beliefs are so emotionally strong as the threaten peoples very sense of existance and life after death.

    With that kind of emotion, you will never be able to prove the truth if what you believe in is FANTASY.

    The are three types of reality,

    1. Real existance that can be measured, tested and proven repeatable over and over
    2. Real existance that cannot be measured and therefor never known.
    3. Fantasy that does not exist but is believed to exist.

    The last two types of reality are why spiritual people are impossible to win an argument with and only admit the truth of their errors in belief when reality number one happens over and over enough to win a legal law case with it…This is why Scopes lost, too many ignorant people, without enough repeatable facts at the time. The same happened to Galileo and many other people jailed by the Church for telling the truth about nature (the earth goes around the sun).

  6. Moon-howler

    Michael, I am anxiously awaiting your rationale….

    Alanna, we (you, Elena and I) are the missing links…we can not agree on things yet remain civil to each other. Find me another blog where that state exists…..Major Darwin girl here.

    And I certainly do not know enough science to argue a good case. I don’t necessarily think evolution and religion are mutually exclusive of each other…not by any stretch. I just do not think creationism is science. It is faith. Nothing wrong with that.

    Would you say I am correct with my assumption that the main difference would be how animal present themselves in the beginning?

  7. Slowpoke Rodriguez


    Top Notch Post! My hat’s off to you! Even the graphic is really cool.

  8. michael

    Evolution is no diffenent..your children are not exactly like you, and they chage from generation to generartion. This has been happening at least 3.0 million years for man and some 1.2 billion to 800 million years for bacteria, and viruses. Before that there was only amino acids and organic chemistry (the fact that carbon likes to bond with hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen) because of the way photons interact with electrons.

    In the end, we are ALL made up of photons and a few things called Quarks. If God is made up of the same Photons and Quarks, then we are made in the image of God…and God likes evolution because he made it that way.

    Ponder that….

  9. Moon-howler

    Thanks everyone. Sorry it was a day late.

    I had forgotten about poor Galileo. He was under house arrest until his death. His official apology came in 2000 from Pope John Paul II. Prior to that, the following was released by Pope John Paul II.

    Thanks to his intuition as a brilliant physicist and by relying on different arguments, Galileo, who practically invented the experimental method, understood why only the sun could function as the centre of the world, as it was then known, that is to say, as a planetary system. The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world’s structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture….

    – Pope John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano N. 44 (1264) – November 4, 1992

    And one of the smartest quotes of the day, IMHO: (from Michael)

    –and God likes evolution because he made it that way.–

  10. TWINAD

    If anyone cares, my feelings are closest to Michael’s #3 hypothesis. So I will rot in hell if there is a God.

  11. NoVA Scout

    How about a revision of no. 2: God exists and he realizes that our comprehension of him is extremely limited. So he provides parables, symbols, stories, codes, and hints in scripture that help us, in our extremely limited ways, to approach him. It’s not that scripture is inaccurate. It is a reflection of a truth that mere humans have trouble grasping. Only if taken literally does it become inaccurate (although some of it is literally true). It is more that it has to be read deeply and frequently to find the portals that open glimpses on God’s greatness.

  12. Moon-howler

    Who would ever think we would solve the mysteries of the universe on a blog?

    Good to see you back, NoVA Scout.

    Where can we add the possibility that early man attempted to explain his position in the universe and created scriptures to do so? I think it might fit in as a form B of the revision of #2 (NoVa Scout)

  13. Censored bybvbl

    TWINAD, that’s my opinion as well. However, having just watched Dante’s Inferno, I can’t say that I’m looking forward to any of the circles/levels of hell if I’m wrong. Haha.

  14. ShellyB

    God and evolution can co-exist. It’s not God’s fault if we didn’t figure out His plan until Darwin came along. It certainly doesn’t disprove Him!

  15. Lucky Duck

    Hey Leila, Don’t you miss me now? I was only joking on the other thread about being “Michael”.

    Michael, my apologies…I simply couldn’t resist….almost like hitting a “T’ ball.

  16. When I was a Jehovah’s Witness (boyhood to early twenties) I used to go door-to-door pontificating with absolute and unmovable certainty about how we are all created by a supreme being named Jehovah.

    After my Jehovah’s Witness years I, like so many people, allowed myself an open mind to consider various ideas (some involving “God”, some not) about the beginnings of life, the purpose of life, etc.

    Then later, and into my present years, it occurred to me that in all the circular debating about how we got here and/or who or what put us here — all of which is absolutely unqualified speculation — we lose sight of the one fact of which we are absolutely certain and yet we totally ignore: we are here.

    So while philosophical discussions on the subject can be stimulatlng and fun, the how, the who, and the what ultimately don’t matter. Our presence in the here-and-now, and what we do in it, is what ultimately matters most.

  17. Moon-howler

    And Robb, you are probably right. I noticed that Jehovah’s Witness was the least likely to believe the theory of evolution.

    However, people still want to replace science with religion. (and probably vice versa) How do we seperate religion from science? Evolution is not supposed to be a religion. The theory is supposed to explain where we and other things came from. Evolution a name for a process. Do we know everything about it? No. Do we know everything there is to know about gravity? Nooooooo.

    Gravity holds us on the earth (thus explaining why we are here) No one doubts gravity. Why couldn’t God have ‘invented’ both gravity and evolution? I don’t see any of these terms as having one thing to do with one and other or to be exclusive of each other. I can get very sarcastic when someone wants to slap down dinosaurs with man.

  18. TWINAD



  19. Moon-howler:

    Funny thing is that Jehovah’s Witnesses embrace science far more open-mindedly than people realize, even when it comes to theories about how all things (including life on earth) unfolded. I would even go so far as to say that JW’s are far more progressive in embracing science than most other so-called “Christian” denominations.

    For example, JW’s believe all things were likely created over a long period of time spanning millions of years. They’re not literal six-day creationists.

    JW’s believe dinosaurs walked the earth during a certain stage of creation, but likely expired before the “sixth day” era when “God” created the first human male and female.

    The only difference with JW’s is they believe human beings were created as-are and in a distinct moment in history, rather than having evolved over time from some ancient fish, or australopithicus ape, or base compounds from some primordial goo, etc.

    So while JW’s reject certain aspects of the theory of evolution, they might generally opine that “evolution” is merely the unfolding of God’s ultimate creative act.

    Such a view, of course, presumes the existence of a supreme Overseer of the universe.

  20. Elena

    The reality is that no ones knows what G-d is and is not. Has anyone read the story “Old Turtle”, it’s truly beautiful. Wonderful childrens book with incredible water color pictures.

    Here is my theory, there is a higher power, whatever that higher power is, it has allowed the human species to consider, in many different ways, how it exists and how we can make the idea of a higher power relevant in our daily lives. I also know this to be true, man wrote the bible, Old and New testament, not G-d. I believe in what the great Prophet, Hillel wrote, first understand the premise that you shall not do unto thy neighbor what you would not want done unto to, only then, once you understand this philosophy, may you go forward and learn the Talmud (laws of Judaism). Too many times, over the course of human existence, whether it be wars over “The Gods” of ancient times, or one true G-d of Abraham or Allah, man has shed his brothers and sisters blood.

    I am a firm believer in evolution, science is the one true source that guides logic over emotion. I believe it was Stephen Hawkins who said that it is not incongruent to believe in science/evolution AND believe in G-d. Both beliefs can, and do, exist side by side. Just because I believe in evolution, time and science having taught mankind how to measure the life of fossils, does not mean I also cannot believe in G-d. Galileo was arrested by the Church for suggesting that the earth moved around the sun. Now we now, he was correct. Would one aruge that the earth does not rotate around the sun? Does understanding our Universe and Earth suddenly mean G-d does not exist? Because Darwin proved evolution does that mean G-d cannot exist? Because Dinasaurs walked the Earth 65 million years ago, does that mean G-d cannot exist?

  21. Moon-howler

    Elena, Must be Genesis that throws people for a loop. I think, and I might be wrong, that the dividing line is between fundamentalists who believe in literal interpretation of scripture and those Christians who aren’t fundamentalists. I would fall into the later category. I was taught that much of the bible is allegorical and symbolic and that those who wrote the scriptures related to the world as they saw it–which takes us back to ancient man trying to determine his time, place and function in the world in which he lived–coming to grips with his surroundings.

    I don’t care if people believe that the earth was created in 6 days. I care if that concept is taught as science.

    Robb, thanks for the clarification on the beliefs of JWs. The one time I had a discussion of evolution with one, they were mighty insulted that someone thought they came from apes. I just existed the conversation. That has only 1 place to go…downhill!

  22. I enjoy Albert Einstein’s insights:

    On Oneness and our common humanity . . .

    A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

    Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.

    On religion’s failure as a legitimate moral compass for mankind . . .

    When considering the actual living conditions of present day civilised humanity from the standpoint of even the most elementary religious commands, one is bound to experience a feeling of deep and painful disappointment at what one sees. For while religion prescribes brotherly love in the relations among the individuals and groups, the actual spectacle more resembles a battlefield than an orchestra.

    Everywhere, in economic as well as in political life, the guiding principle is one of ruthless striving for success at the expense of one’s fellow men. This competitive spirit prevails even in the school and, destroying all feelings of human fraternity and cooperation, conceives of achievement not as derived from the love for productive and thoughtful work, but as springing from personal ambition and fear of rejection.

    There are pessimists who hold that such a state of affairs is necessarily inherent in human nature; it is those who propound such views that are the enemies of true religion, for they imply thereby that the religious teachings are utopian ideals and are unsuited to afford guidance in human affairs.

    On “God” and the nature of Creation . . .

    I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.

    On the idea of “God” as a man-made notion . . .

    During the youthful period of mankind’s spiritual evolution human fantasy created gods in man’s own image, who, by the operations of their will were supposed to determine, or at any rate to influence, the phenomenal world. Man sought to alter the disposition of these gods in his own favour by means of magic and prayer. The idea of God in the religions taught at present is a sublimation of that old concept of the gods. Its anthropomorphic character is shown, for instance, by the fact that men appeal to the Divine Being in prayers and plead for the fulfillment of their wishes.

    Nobody, certainly, will deny that the idea of the existence of an omnipotent, just, and omni beneficent personal God is able to accord man solace, help, and guidance; also, by virtue of its simplicity it is accessible to the most undeveloped mind. But, on the other hand, there are decisive weaknesses attached to this idea in itself, which have been painfully felt since the beginning of history.

  23. Elena

    Gotta love Albert, thanks Robb!

  24. Black Velvet Reporter

    Black Velvet Reporter reporting in. I have been thinking about the Darwin Awards from the Dark Screen. Any nominations?

    Darwin Awards-Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it.

    On with the weekly report-

    There is a new kid in town on the dark screen who makes a lot of sense. Apparently the Great Master doesn’t like him because he doesn’t fight LIBERALISM. I thought the new kid in town made a lot of sense. Maybe T-Ditty will drop by for a chat. He keeps making sense like he did today he is going to get thrown off, typical Great Master style.

    It sounds like some velvets cut work on Friday to keep their eye(s) on 9500 Liberty Street happenings. There is some confusion as to when the liberty-man took his sojourn to California. The referenced website ssaid it was last October. Ummm…this is February. He is really jerking the old black velvet chains.

    Lots of Obama bashing going on. The economy is all Obama’s fault, if I read correctly. Eight years of Bush and it is still Obama’s fault. That is to be expected.

    CB continues to shriek about libs. Of course everyone to the left of him is a liberal.

    Can’t stay there long. That mentality might be catching.

  25. Moonhowler, you stated:Robb, thanks for the clarification on the beliefs of JWs. The one time I had a discussion of evolution with one, they were mighty insulted that someone thought they came from apes.

    It’s funny you mentioned that. Back when I was a JW I remember that the top three “controversial topics” that certain householders would challenge us with when we went to a door were: (1) the trinity doctrine (JW’s don’t believe in it), (2) death and the afterlife (which included the subject of the end of the world), and (3) evolution.

    And believe me, we were frequently challenged with the notion that man evolved from an ape. And in my congregation we had a silly canned answer that either insulted the householder or made them laugh: “Speak for yourself.”

    Overall, the friction of the evolution/creation debate is really all about one thing and one thing only: the notion of “God”. And while there are certainly rabid pro-evolution atheists out there who kick up a lot of dust, the majority of the friction is caused by Christians. The reason is this: power. The idea of “God” is the foundation of power for Christians, because to believe that you know the mind of “God” and have his blessing to express (and sometimes carry out) his authority is to believe that you have ultimate power.

    And so any challenge to, or assault upon, the idea of “God” is to threaten the very source of power for many Christians. And what such Christians (and other theists, Christian or otherwise, for that matter) are now beginning to sober up to is the fact that their “power” has already evaporated, vis a vis their “God” notion and its validity having been rendered completely and effectually impotent.

  26. Moon-howler

    Robb, I had never thought of these things. The power wasn’t theirs to start with. I suppose if you owned the power throughout history, you owned a lot. I am beginning to see why I have never been totally comfortable with organized religion.

  27. Moon-howler you hit the nail on the head:

    The power wasn’t theirs to start with. I suppose if you owned the power throughout history, you owned a lot.

    It’s all an illusion when it comes to the “God” notion and the perception of the power it brings.

    And the only way such power can be exercised is if others buy into the very same illusion from which that power is derived.

    And when we consider how the power of religion has been massively diminished in the past fifty years, it is for the very fact that fewer and fewer people are buying into the illusion anymore.

  28. DB

    But one must always remember, there is a NEW God. He judges AYP, he alone holds the super secret formula that allows students to acheive, and teachers to keep their jobs. HE is the FEDERAL GOV’T. He has infinite wisdom…AYP…ONLY HE UNDERSTANDS THE WORD, teachers??????

  29. Civil Religion Sucks

    We praise and adore this God of politics every morning in school by pledging allegiance to his flag. We are one nation united under the god of national government. For good luck we enscribe “In God We Trust” on our money because the Fed is our hope for economic salvation. Political leaders pray to the holy spirit of goverance by adding “So Help Me God” to political actions. Our political speaches always end with “God Bless America” to remind us of that government is our source of blessing. If you anger god he will torture and torment you in the hell of war: the war on terror, drugs, poverty, global warming or whatever fear will feed the next electorial cycle.

    Those who refuse to stand or participate in this idolatry are demons that must be cast out from society as unpatriotic devils because there is no freedom to choose when it comes to civil religion.

  30. Civil Religion Sucks:

    Seems much like Rome, no?

  31. Elena

    Wow Civil Religion,…..very powerful and frightening at the same time.

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