Darwinian Sesquicentennial

I feel like Physicists need to make common cause with our brethren (and sisteren) in the squishy sciences. After all, the same people who tout Intelligent Design tend to be none to keen on the big bang or the standard model of cosmology. It’s also good to keep in mind that physicists don’t have a monopoly on scientific rigor, and that the development of evolution should be held up as an archetype of how good science is done. So how are you celebrating the 150th anniversary of “The Origin of Species”?

Are you reading the Ray Comfort Version (or perhaps using a stack of the intros to keep yourself warm)?

Perhaps a better option is reading my friend (and author of Charles and Emma), Deb Heiligman’s Washington Post article on “A Dozen Reasons to Celebrate Darwin.” (Interestingly, her post appears in the “On Faith” section). My favorites:

8. Darwin never said that humans evolved from apes. This is a basic misunderstanding of evolution. Humans and apes have a common ancestor. Recently scientists found an early human ancestor. In the tradition of Darwin they worked for years to put together the pieces.

and

11. Charles Darwin was one of the real Good Guys in history. It’s true that he published the Origin after he found out that Alfred Russell Wallace also had the same idea. It was the thing that pushed him to finally publish, after decades of sitting on his work (because he did not want to rock the boat). But first he had his paper and Wallace’s published together. Then he wrote his book.

There are more than a few characters from my own field would not survive the same level of scrutiny. Should I ever be fortunate enough to be in that sort of position, I only hope that I have some share of Darwin’s magnanimity.

-Dave

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