Ann Arbor Darwin Day Celebration
February 12, 2010
Who we are, what we think, and why...

           We are a group of people interested in the exploration and expansion of 
                         science, rationality, and evidence-based thinking. Why?

About 300 children have died in the United States in the last 25 years after medical care was withheld on religious grounds.

We come from all walks of life, from all continents, from all backgrounds. We are teachers, scientists, engineers, others yet simply like to stimulate our grey matter from time to time. We're neither pro- nor anti-religious or -spiritual.

Yet, we like to apply  scientific scrutiny to challenge our own beliefs and superstitions as well as those of others.  As we encounter more and more pseudo-science every day, it becomes at times difficult to tell it from real evidence-based science. This is where discussion and search of verifiable truths comes in. Right now, we are all on a quest for answers. 

"I am a strong advocate for free thought on all subjects, yet it appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against christianity & theism produce hardly any effect on the public; & freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds, which follow[s] from the advance of science. It has, therefore, been always my object to avoid writing on religion, & I have confined myself to science." (Darwin)

This year marks both the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the 1859 publication of Darwin's "The Origin of Species", which presented the scientific theory that populations evolve over generations through natural selection.

"Darwin Day promotes understanding of evolution and the scientific method," said Larry Jones, president of the Institute for Humanist Studies which administers The Darwin Day Celebration. "This celebration expresses gratitude for the enormous benefit that scientific knowledge has contributed to the advancement of humanity."

The theory of evolution was controversial in Darwin's time and remains controversial in the United States today.

Recent Gallup polls show that 43 percent of Americans reject the theory of evolution and instead believe that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so." And at least four 2008 presidential candidates have said they do not believe the theory of evolution.

"I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars." (Darwin)

On Religion
Here is a quote from an article published in The New Republic on Jan 4, 2009. The article is called "Seeing and Believing, the never-ending attempt to reconcile science and religion, and why it is doomed to fail." by Jerry Coyne.
For a complete copy of the article, click here.

"And so the culture wars continue between science and religion. On one side we have a scientific establishment and a court system determined to let children learn evolution rather than religious mythology, and on the other side the many Americans who passionately resist those efforts. It is a depressing fact that while 74 percent of Americans believe that angels exist, only 25 percent accept that we evolved from apelike ancestors. Just one in eight of us think that evolution should be taught in the biology classroom without including a creationist alternative. Among thirty-four Western countries surveyed for the acceptance of evolution, the United States ranked a dismal thirty-third, just above Turkey.
We cannot "prove" any specific religious belief is false; likewise, religious people cannot  "prove" that their beliefs are true!  We have a stalemate :)  However, when someone takes an action, or advocates a position that affects other people, they have to have a reason; they have to have evidence.  Therefore, when they advocate a policy position of nearly any kind, they set themselves up to be questioned.  And if their only reason is "religious beliefs", then we will confront them.  
In the real world, EVIDENCE BASED thinking is the law of the land.  In private, or regarding personal choices that affect no one else, evidence based thinking is optional. We see no reason to be in conflict with religous beliefs unless a religous person wants to push an agenda.

We like and promote:

  • reason
  • skepticism (within reason)
  • inquiry including science
  • evidence-based belief and action

We oppose:

  • charlatans
  • uncritical acceptance of ... most anything
  • being disagreeable (but we're fine with disagreement)

What was the last work of non-fiction you read and would like to verify? Which causes would you like to learn more on? Do you have an expertise you'd like to share with us?

Join us for Darwin Day, let's talk and make plans to make this a regular thing!

Abraham Lincoln was born on the exact same day as Charles Darwin(February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was the sixteenth President of the United States. He successfully led the country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War, preserving the Union and ending slavery. Assassinated as the war was drawing to a close, Lincoln had been the first Republican elected to the Presidency. Before his presidency, he was a lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, a member of the United States House of Representatives, and twice an unsuccessful candidate for election to the Senate. (Wikipedia)

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