Speak to a Friend about Darwin Day

The anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, February 12, is celebrated by some as Darwin Day. Darwin, of course, is best known for his theory of evolution through natural selection. When Darwin’s work was first made public in 1859, it shocked Britain’s religious establishment. And while today it is accepted by virtually all scientists, evolutionary theory still is rejected by many Americans, often because it conflicts with their religious beliefs about divine creation.

While not an official holiday, Darwin Day has been adopted by scientific and humanist groups to promote everything from scientific literacy to secularism. Each year, worldwide, events take place, many of them anchored by scientific talks or symposia. The Clergy Letter Project has gathered some 14,000 statements from clergy that they believe in evolution and that it does not conflict with their beliefs.

Roughly six-in-ten U.S. adults (62%) say humans have evolved over time, according to data from Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study. But only a little more than half of them (33% of all Americans) express the belief that humans and other living things evolved solely due to natural processes. A quarter of U.S. adults (25%) say evolution was guided by a supreme being. The same survey found that 34% of Americans reject evolution entirely, saying humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.

While 98% of scientists connected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science say they believe humans evolved over time, only two-thirds (66%) of Americans overall perceive that scientists generally agree about evolution, according to 2014 data from a recent Pew Research Center survey on science and society. Those in the general public who reject evolution are divided on whether there is a scientific consensus on the topic, with 47% saying scientists agree on evolution and 46% saying they do not.  It is important for us to help improve those percentages.

CommunityKris Thresher