Darwin Day Resolution in Congress — Divisive?

We’ve learned from our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) that there’s a Darwin Day resolution in Congress.

It’s House Resolution 81, introduced into the House by Representative Pete Stark of California. Here’s the text of his resolution, with a bit of bold font added by us for emphasis:

Whereas Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by the mechanism of natural selection, together with the monumental amount of scientific evidence he compiled to support it, provides humanity with a logical and intellectually compelling explanation for the diversity of life on Earth;

Whereas the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is further strongly supported by the modern understanding of the science of genetics;

Whereas it has been the human curiosity and ingenuity exemplified by Darwin that has promoted new scientific discoveries that have helped humanity solve many problems and improve living conditions;

Whereas the advancement of science must be protected from those unconcerned with the adverse impacts of global warming and climate change;

Whereas the teaching of creationism in some public schools compromises the scientific and academic integrity of the United States’ education systems;

Whereas Charles Darwin is a worthy symbol of scientific advancement on which to focus and around which to build a global celebration of science and humanity intended to promote a common bond among all of Earth’s peoples; and

Whereas, February 12, 2011, is the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 1809 and would be an appropriate date to designate as Darwin Day: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives

(1) supports the designation of Darwin Day; and

(2) recognizes Charles Darwin as a worthy symbol on which to celebrate the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge.

NCSE’s post is very informative. It refers to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, but we won’t go there. That newspaper is owned by MediaNews, a client of Righthaven LLC. That’s the outfit that sues bloggers for excerpting their precious content.

This is a link to information about the status and progress of Stark’s resolution: Bill Summary & Status: H. Res. 81. Nothing’s happened since it was introduced on 09 February and referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Besides Stark, the matter has one cosponsor, Representative Ed Markey. Both Stark and Markey are Democrats. After those two, 16 more signed on as cosponsors; they’re listed here, but without party designations. The only names we recognize are Democrats Dennis Kucinich and Maxine Waters.

Perhaps your Curmudgeon has grown too cynical in your service, dear reader, but from the wording of Stark’s Resolution, it looks more like a ploy to annoy the Republicans than a serious attempt to honor Darwin. If so, it’s despicable to exploit Darwin in such a fashion, but maybe we’re wrong.

The House is controlled by Republicans, and if that party is sensitive to the lunacy of its creationist faction, the Resolution may die in committee. That would be embarrassing; and that’s what we suspect is the real purpose of this resolution. If it gets to the floor of the House for a vote, the results will be very interesting. If the Republicans go for the bait and end up looking like idiots, it will be their own fault.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Darwin Day Resolution in Congress — Divisive?

  1. Gabriel Hanna

    I think it’s fantastic. Who would have guessed that our nation’s problems could be resolved so quickly, so that our elected representatives have time to argue over a meaningless resolution about Charles Darwin?

  2. Gabriel Hanna says: “I think it’s fantastic.”

    Indeed it is. With such sponsors as Dennis Kucinich and Maxine Waters, you can be assured that this is an expression of Congress’ appreciation of science.

  3. I think it’s great too, but I agree with SC that it’s meant to annoy some.
    I can’t figure out the appropriateness of paragraphs 4 and 5. While true, they are both superfluous and present perfect targets for Republicans and Tea Partiers.

  4. Gabriel Hanna

    Yes, Dennis Kucinich, didn’t he sponsor legislation banning mind control devices?

  5. Perhaps the Discoveroids will notice it. That could generate some amusing commentary.

  6. Curmudgeon: “Perhaps your Curmudgeon has grown too cynical in your service, dear reader…”

    If you want a prize for cynicism, stand right behind me. I don’t know which annoys me more, the foot-shooting of liberals and atheists on this issue, or the “why bother” attitude of conservatives and theists who know that anti-science activists are at best undermining science education and at worst pusuing some authoritarian theocracy. Both of which are a huge threat to a capitalist democracy that values (real) religious freedom.

    The example that annoys me most is GWB’s 2005 comment about “teach both sides” that had opponents all giddy about how that makes him a “creationist.” GWB is almost certainly clueless of science, and thus vulnerable to such catchy sound bites, but that doesn’t necessarily make him any more of a “creationist” than I was in 1997 when I too briefly fell for the “teach both sides” scam. At the time I was a mid-career chemist who had accepted evolution for 30 years.

    The irony is that GWB made that statement just a few months before a judge that he appointed ruled against “teach both sides” (Judge Jones was astute enough to inlcude the “replacement scam” along with the ID that was on trial in his assessment of “breathaking inanity.”) But has anyone asked GWB if he agreed with the judge’s decision? Or if he regretted appointing what the scam artists call an “activist” judge? If so I haven’t heard a peep about it. Now that he doesn’t have other urgent issues to worry about, GWB could possibly become one of our biggest allies, but not if we ass-u-me what he believes.

  7. I don’t think the original intent was to annoy. The primary sponsor is the representative of Silicon Valley; promoting science is directly in line with what his constitutents probably want. The second sponsor, Markey, is also a big pro-science congresscritter and has spoken at AAAS numerous times on the important need for better science education and more science in policy.

    Now, of course all co-signers are going to try and milk this for whatever political mileage they can. If they can make those opposed to it look bad, they will. That’s politics. But given that there are perfectly natural and non-cynical reasons for the two earlierst booster to support it, I don’t think we need to invoke some hidden agenda to explain why they did it.

  8. eric says:

    But given that there are perfectly natural and non-cynical reasons for the two earlierst booster to support it, I don’t think we need to invoke some hidden agenda to explain why they did it.

    Maybe you’re right. But maybe you’re too nice a guy. When politicians get involved in The Controversy, I always assume that they have the worst motives. This isn’t about lab work or a controversial paper in the journals. This is street science. Don’t bring a slide rule to a knife fight.