Happy Birthday, Charlie Darwin

Today, as you’ve probably heard, is the 200th anniversary of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Lincoln always gets lots of ink, so it’s especially nice to see all the attention being paid to Darwin; this piece is particularly good.

Is Darwin less respected than he ought to be in certain quarters because his science overturned the religious belief in divine creation? Perhaps. It is worth remembering that Darwin himself believed in creation before he took his famous five-year voyage on the Beagle; but he was ultimately won over by the data.

The friction between evolution and creation will likely live on at least another 200 years but, in the interim, let me offer the following song. It was composed this morning by my friend Jonathan Rosen, a very good writer whose most recent book, The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature, is just out in paperback. It is meant to be sung to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”


Jonathan wrote it so that his daughter Ariella could take it to school and maybe sing it in class if the opportunity arose. She goes to a Jewish day school. I think it does a pretty good job of satisfying any Darwin admirers, whichever side of the evolution/creation aisle they sit:

Happy Birthday Charlie
You come from the sea
You look like a monkey
And so do we.

Happy Birthday Charlie
We come from the sea
But what’s really odd:
We were also made by God.

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  1. Stacey says:

    Great song!

    Evolution does not “overturn” belief in divine creation, it just changes the modus operandi. If people could believe God spoke everything into creation in 7 days, surely they can believe he ordained a natural process.

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  2. MikeM says:

    The current friction between evolution and creationism isn’t 200 years old. It is a product of the 20th century and the advent of American fundamentalism that led to the Scopes trial and the friction has continued ever since. More so than today, Christians in the 19th century had no trouble believing in evolution and holding onto their faith.

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  3. EP says:

    Darwin’s theory has yet to win over everyone because of the incompetence of evolutionary biologists at properly applying it to science. When properly understood, Darwin’s description of natural selection is not at odds with any Biblical Truths, hence the Vatican’s acceptance of it. Evolutionary biologists have distorted, misrepresented, and made unverifiable claims about evolution. The primary issue is their inability to apply the scientific method to their investigations. The issues are not with the theory or with Darwin, but with the many bastardized versions of it posited by so-called scientists, many of whom are actually journalists, philosophers, or just commentators.

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  4. Brian says:

    Here is an interesting article I found recently because of Darwins 200th anniversary.


    Maybe this is another reason why evolutionary biologist are having troubles, EP.

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  5. Mark Wolfinger says:

    Speaking of Darwin and Lincoln, this blog post uses some of their quotations to provide investment advice: http://blog.mdwoptions.com/options_for_rookies/2009/02/two-giants.html

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  6. jonathan says:

    I always thought that becasue much of the US was antiintellectual (a serious candidate for the Republican partys presidential nomination in 2008 does not believe in evolution), Darwin is neglected in favor of intellegant design (creationism).

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  7. htb says:

    What bothers me about the people paying homage to Darwin is the nobody ever talks about the half of his life’s work that turned out to be complete bunkum.

    Darwin’s theory about natural selection is true enough — ask anyone who’s bred animals what happens if you only allow those with a given trait to breed — but his explanation for the existence of these traits and their method of propagation was pure Lamarckism, which is utterly rejected by modern genetics. To give the classic illustrations, the blacksmith’s son does not have strong arms because his father spent all day pounding things at the forge, and the giraffe does not have a long neck because a hundred generations stretched to reach leaves at the top of the tree.

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  8. Ciara says:

    Lincoln gets lots of ink?
    This is the first year I found out Darwin and Lincoln shared a birthday- in Ireland, as elsewhere outside of the US I’d imagine, we don’t get as much newspaper coverage of dead US presidents’ birthdays as you might think!

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