It wasn't how I designed it, but things evolved in such a way as to make it a full Darwin weekend for me at the university. A day of activities on Friday with the secular community included a discussion, video, 'carol singing' and a celebratory cake for the famous scientist. Even a "Happy Birthday Song" which included someone cheekily wishing Darwin ' many more.' So we can now say it is not just 'believers' that sing birthday songs to people who have passed from this life. I suppose we can argue that we have an advantage in that we actually know the birth date of him who we recognise. And no, in case you are wondering, we did not get down on our knees and pray to an " Evolving Saviour."
The planned talk by Daniel Dennett was to be Friday's highlight, but mechanical failure of a plane, meant a wait of an extra 24 hours.So Saturday ended up being 'Dennett Day', as the well known atheist philosopher spoke to a packed auditorium at the university. Much food for thought was delivered in that presentation. It was certainly worth the wait.
And now today, Sunday, I can share with the online community in recognising the famous author of 'Origin of the Species.' It does strike me that even though Darwin has made an amazing contribution to the field of biology, it is far more than that which people celebrate today. It is a recognition of the importance of scientific enquiry as a whole. The beauty of movement from a hypothesis in the mind, to a journey, sometimes lasting a lifetime, to look for evidence in the natural world. The development of a model, framework and a theory to tie it all together, based on what the data shows. It is a narrative to remind us all that for good science we must follow the data where it leads us, no matter the impact it may have for our previously held beliefs, traditions or embedded cultures. Reality is not something we can get close to discovering if we put loyalty to our home tribe, or desire for self satisfying answers as our goal. It is an important lesson for us all to remember, no matter where we fall on the theistic spectrum.
On this special day, I leave you with two carols we enjoyed singing for Darwin . Hope you enjoy them too.
Carols penned by Dr. Marcia Epstein, Humanist Liaison at the University of Calgary.
Charlie Darwin looked about
(To the tune of “Good King Wenceslas looked out”)
Charlie Darwin looked about
on the deck of Beagle;
thinking of the finch's beak,
and the wing of eagle.
Brightly gleamed the sea that day,
as the sun was shining:
Darwin paced the deck that day,
nature's laws divi--ning.
Studying geology, he
thought of ancient mountains,
questioning theology, he
quested for life's fountains:
seeking a solution,
Darwin made a leap of faith
Though he knew not Mendel's Laws, nor
Darwin knew that time and clime shaped
'Origin of Species' made
sense of evolution,
So we know today that he
sparked a revolu—tion!
Twelve Eons of Evolution
(To the tune of “12 days of Christmas”: add each verse to the first one until all 12 are sung)
1. We know that evolution made DNA the key ( to):
our human family!
2) the clever chimpanzee, and our human family.
3) primates in a tree, the clever chimpanzee, and our human family.
4) dolphins & whales,
5) Fe--males and Males! (note: the tune changes at this point)
6) predatory mammals
7) little furry mammals
8) birds of a feather
9) flying pterodactyls
10) great leaping lizards
11) phylum chordata
12) tiny protozoa