Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin is trying to get 200,000 people to sign up on its Facebook page with birthday wishes for Darwin’s 200th, coming up on February 12. The point with all of the group’s activities — including a big conference call to all sing Happy Birthday together — isn’t really to wish Charles Darwin a happy birthday. After all, he is, you know, not to put to fine a point on it, dead. The point of their virtual effort is to demonstrate the volume of support for the historical work of Charles Darwin, the continuing scientific relevance of Darwin’s work in biology, and the importance of a reality-based empiricism when dealing with the world.
If you’re reading this from your breakfast table right now in the comforting enclave of a university town, you might not understand why that kind of affirmation is so important. Outside of America’s university towns, the validity of evolution in particular and of the empirical approach in general is still very much in doubt. Four Republican presidential candidates last year proudly proclaimed their disbelief in evolution. In 2006 less than a majority of Americans said they believe in the truth of the theory of evolution in a cross-national survey, placing the USA well below all of Western Europe and just above Turkey in its level of acceptance.
So yes, it is important that you talk about and discuss and explain the theory of evolution in your personal interactions online and offline. Recognizing the birth of Charles Darwin on a Facebook site, in your walks about town and on your drives out of town is an approachable way of getting the word out, too.
Over 100,000 people have already signed onto the Darwin Birthday Facebook page. Add your little bit, and think about how you might do a little bit more.