Saturday, 16 February 2008

Did you celebrate Darwin Day?

Charles Darwin's birthday was celebrated on February 12. Image: Wikipedia

Joel Kontinen

Charles Darwin’s birthday (February 12) is evolving into a secular alternative to Christian holy days such as Christmas and Easter for atheists, humanists, skeptics and other evolutionists. Thus many Darwinists are in the habit of wishing each other Happy Darwin Day and even sending Darwin Day cards via the internet.

St. Charles celebrates his 200th birthday next year but the science journal Nature already reminded its readers of the importance of his birth and wished all a happy Darwin Day.

In the USA February 12 has traditionally been remembered as Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, but humanists and other anticreationists want to push Lincoln aside and replace him with a man who was born on the same day and the same year (1809) - Charles Darwin.

Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States from 1861 to 1865. He advocated the elimination of slavery and during the Civil War he issued a declaration that abolished slavery in the southern states.

Darwin’s view of mankind was much more sombre than Lincoln’s. In his book Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871) he predicted, “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time, the anthropomorphous apes. . . will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla.” (vol. 1, p. 201).

In other words, Darwin did not have a very bright view of the Australian aborigines or other people of colour.

Darwin’s thoughts had far-reaching consequences. In Australia, aboriginals were hunted down like animals and they were almost brought to extinction. In the United States, a pygmy named Ota Benga was first exhibited in the St. Louis World Fair (1904) and later in the Bronx Zoo and in many countries eugenics was used to eliminate undesired traits from mankind. This evolution was starkest in the programs of the German Nazis.

Recently, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised, saying he was sorry how his country had treated the aborigines. He remembered to mention Darwin’s harmful effect.

Perhaps we should think twice before we start sending Darwin Day cards.


Darwin, Charles, 1871. (republished 1981) The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Ham, Ken; Wieland, Carl; Batten, Don. 1999. One Blood: The Biblical Answer to Racism. Green Forest: Master Books.

Wieland, Carl. 2008. A sorry day—with an unlikely twist.