Hallelujah! Evolution! Happy Darwin Day?
By John West
If Darwin Day devotees want to be viewed as more than the mere members of a quirky cult, they need to start engaging their thoughtful critics.
[February 12] is the birthday of Charles Darwin, and enthusiasts around the globe will be marking the occasion with special dinners, lectures, birthday parties and more.
Darwin boosters often insist they are inspired simply by a disinterested commitment to science, while their critics are motivated primarily by religion. But Darwin Day festivities make it painfully obvious that many promoters of Darwinian theory are just as interested in metaphysics as their critics. For supporters, evolution is not just a scientific theory. It’s a secular creation story, a governing myth that gives their life meaning and purpose.
Hence the growing popularity of “Darwin Day,” which has all the trappings of a holy day for both secular materialists and spiritual progressives. The Day itself is billed as a project of the “American Humanist Association,” and as I discuss in my book Darwin Day in America, many of its events have explicitly metaphysical overtones.
In California, for example, this year you could attend a Darwin Day event (actually it took place the weekend before) featuring two ex-pastors-turned-atheists who offered their de-conversion stories followed by an “uplifting message of secular hope and love.” The gathering was organized by the “Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers.”
On the other coast, meanwhile, you could attend an “Evolution Sunday” event at a congregational church in Charleston, South Carolina, where the progressive pastor preached on how “our understanding of cosmic and natural evolution may help us move beyond the narrow confines of anthropocentrism to a richer, fuller view of life.”
In past years, Darwin Day events have included mock-gospel concerts featuring songs like “Randomness Is Good Enough for Me” and “Hallelujah! Evolution!” as well as lectures on topics such as “Biological Arguments against the Existence of God.”
One might be tempted to dismiss Darwin Day festivities as the antics of those on the fringe. But a preoccupation with metaphysics is anything but a fringe activity among Darwin’s leading defenders…
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