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Our Evolutionary Sweetheart

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Think about the last time you completely changed your world-view. I mean, completely. Like, one week you are absolutely positive the world is flat and still, and the next you realize that it’s an oblong oblate spheroid circling a flaming ball of gas in space. I’m sure many of you can think of a personal example.

It happened to me, once, and it was a little scary and overwhelming. I can’t even imagine what it might be like to not only change my own world-view, but to know that I was also changing the world-views of the rest of humanity. One week they believe their vast family of man was created by supernatural deity out of the mud, as a unique and special mirror-image of Himself — and the next week, I’m going to convince them of the beautifully stunning interrelatedness of all creatures on the planet. Talk about overwhelming.

Now here we are, 199 years after the birth of a man who did just that. About 150 years after Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, the theory of evolution has been firmly established as a biological fact accepted by all serious scientists on the planet. Yet, we’re still fighting to convince a small but dedicated sect of fundamentalists who would rather stick their fingers in their ears and yell “la la la la la” while the rest of us learn more about the wonders of the universe. Surveys still show that many people don’t understand or accept evolution, and several viable candidates for US president admitted proudly that they don’t believe in this simple reality.

So today is Darwin Day, and I hope that many of you are going out to celebrate with other people who appreciate one of the greatest men who ever lived. If you’re not, that’s okay: just take a few minutes to appreciate how much work went into the discovery of an astounding scientific process, a declicious bit of knowledge that most of us take for granted. Then think about how hard we all have to work to make sure that future generations are able to appreciate it, as well.

Just a reminder that I’ll see all my fellow Bostonian Evil-utionists at the Redline tonight, and all the rest of you had better be working on your Darwinian Valentines. I know I’ve posted it before, but today’s a perfect day to enjoy The New York Dolls’ Dance Like a Monkey:

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=3B6sU9ZB1Tw]

As happy as I am to be giving a talk in New York this Saturday, a part of my heart breaks knowing I’m going to have to miss the Dolls playing the Paradise here in Boston that same night. Sigh.

Click below to go read more Darwin Day posts!

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18 Comments

  1. Speaking of the Saturday lecture in NYC– and cos I'm too lazy to hunt down all the individual e-mails:

    Supposing all of us in the Philadelphia, Delaware County, Burlington, and Camden counties meet up at Swarthmore College? At the R3 train station.

    Lemme know if we're gonna be more than seven people so we can have more than opne car going up.

    –And let's pick a TIME to meet, okay?

  2. Yeah Darwin!

    He was very brave, imagine publishing something that you knew would rock the very foundations of life as people knew it!

    He came from a very interesting family, a little crazy, a little goofy, but hey, great thinkers don't come from boring families.

  3. "He came from a very interesting family, a little crazy, a little goofy, but hey, great thinkers don’t come from boring families."

    Indeed, Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles Darwin was a very interesting character.

  4. I'm having one of those "I'm not alone in the universe!" moments, very Jodie-Foster-in-the-movie-Contact. Thanks for posting this with a little bit of your personal history — I'm just starting the journey and I'm thrilled to have found this site.

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