The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 52
Published 5/22/13 | Log In
Speaking out against secular humanism
By ANIKA SMITH, Guest Columnist
Published: February 7, 2007
While most organized celebrations help knit cultures together, according to the organizers of Darwin Day, those traditional holidays "have often been, and continue to be, the source of serious conflicts." Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union could not agree more.
And so now we have a new celebration, one complete with its own symbols, carols, and talismans, and one its organizers hope will "unite a global community." What is this great hope, this celebration of science and humanity? It's Darwin Day, of course.
Since a small campaign to celebrate Feb. 12 as the anniversary of Darwin's birthday began in the mid-90s, Darwin Day has become the holiday for secular humanists and is informally celebrated around the world.
Already, the holiday has spread outside the United States. In Belfast last year, the local humanist group stated that, as humanists, they prefer to celebrate Darwin Day instead of Christmas.
If you're wondering what a secular humanist does to commemorate such an occasion, it turns out that these particular humanists stand on street corners and hand out leaflets about evolution in an attempt to reach passers-by.
In Victoria, B.C., a philosophy of religion professor organized a Darwin Day celebration for his students where they decked the halls with humanist style. Participants decorated an evolution tree, exchanged Darwin cards and even sang evolution carols.
If this sounds familiar to you, that's because it was designed that way. This celebration, like so many others, was styled as a "light-hearted satire" of Christmas. Had the celebration taken place in a culture with a different religious history, such as Turkey, it might look something more like the Feast of Sacrifice.
Regardless of the cultural context, the message of Darwin Day is plain to its celebrant: Darwinism will deliver humanity from religion.
Saint Darwin is more than a shining example of scientific inquiry; he has become to secular humanists what Muhammad is to Islam, Buddha is to Buddhists, and Jesus Christ is to Christians -- a reason for their faith.
Notable Darwinist and member of the official Darwin Day Celebration Advisory Board Richard Dawkins often credits Darwin for making it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Now he and others like him are evangelizing agnostics and believers alike, which explains the proselytizing of the humanists in Belfast as much as the ill-written hymns to Darwin in Victoria.
Darwin Day carols based on traditional Christmas hymns reveal an appalling lack of poetry, but more than that, they show how "[t]he implications [of Darwin's theory] are profound to both scientists and philosophers."
With lyrics like, "Natural selection / No maker required" sung to "Away in a Manger," it's rather obvious why these students think Darwin's scientific discovery should affect philosophy and religion, in particular.
In America, the response to Darwin Day varies from film screenings at museums to "scientific gospel" concerts around California campuses, where Dr. Stephen Baird and his band, the Opossums of Truth, sing odes to natural selection using a genre of music better known in our culture for talking about Jesus than the "spread of the gospel according to Darwin."
While there are other less serious takes on Darwin Day in America (the original Charles Darwin bobblehead), the true message of this "holiday" is ominously clear. Besides honoring Darwin as a saint, Darwin Day has been designed to give secular humanists the chance to preach that, as the Opossums of Truth say, "Evolution is the way and Randomness is its source."
Or, to use Carl Sagan's famous benediction, "The Cosmos is all there is or ever was or ever will be."
Anika Smith is a 2006 graduate of Seattle Pacific University. She is a policy analyst with Discovery Institute.