this thread has potential to be in three different forums as I wager, but please read the final premise before moving it because it is about current/future events and human history.
Today on my usually uninteresting campus, I was lured to our podium area outside the student center by the best thing ever: FREE CAKE! Not having eaten lunch, I quickly approached. I saw the cake said on top, "Happy Birthday Charles Darwin!" I was getting my first slice and I asked the two students there "Why celebrate his birthday"? One said "Because of ALL the things he did for you!!"
I thought, hmmmmm, that is very curious verbiage, especially about a long dead scientist. I have heard of American Soldiers dying "for me" and my personal freedoms, but how had Darwin done something for ME, personally? I find this an interesting clue.
I elaborated: "No, I mean, why do we celebrate his BIRTHDAY? Wouldn't it make more sense to celebrate the publishing of the Origin of Species?" The other student passing out cake said, "Well, we celebrate it because we will get money to have this special day/free food/prizes. I'm just playing Devil's Advocate with that though - I made the same points you just made. The thing is we don't culturally celebrate the publishing of books, we celebrate birthdays." Ahhh, very true, i said!
I sat down for the free raffle and prizes (I won a free book "Darwin Day: collection one" yay for free additions to my library!), and they had a remedial quiz with prizes about the theory of evolution. They advocated evolution in education/schools and said that creationism has no place in scientific biology, and the accompanying rhetoric typical of this, etc.
It was a good experience all around, but.... well, what is everyone's take on this particular event? I am absolutely befuddled by the eulogizing and celebration over Darwin. I can see appreciating the fellow, hell even I've been guilty of thinking of Aristotle as my own kind of demi-God/savior because he's so important to me. but ... "what he did for you" sounds like the words of rhetoric, almost like...... dare I say, the words of a Christian trying to recruit somebody to their side.
Tonight as I sit here going through this book I won over Darwin, notable Darwinians(such as Dawkins) and evolution in general, I can't help shake the idea that Darwin has been turned into a kind of martyr and demi-god/prophet figure for people who are somewhat fanatical and overly enthusiastic about science. I'm just left wondering "Why", because as a student of psych/phil, this kind of thing has the great potential to bother me in a number of ways.
Do you all think Darwin Day is.... well, i'd like to hear any thoughts on it, really. But something about it just seems off balance....
There is a really funny 2-part episode of South Park called "Go God Go!" in which cartman freezes himself and is revived several thousand years later. He finds the entire world has essentially replaced religion with science, and Atheism + science is the new dogma of the world (Science is God, essentially). Cartman being who he is couldn't care less of course, but it is a VERY interesting commentary from Parker/Stone about this sort of thing that I think, even if you hate south park, you guys should check out: South Park Episode Player - Go God Go
Is Darwin Day just a knee-jerk response from scientists due to unfair rejection of his theories by certain political camps/agenda? Is Darwin Day necessary, politically or otherwise, in order to give science a "fair hearing" in the minds of the public? Could Darwin Day be the beginning of a new era in human life where dead scientists are eulogized and martyred with accompanying rhetoric in the same manner dead priests and prophets have been for millenia now?
In short.... What the hell is going on with this? It's vexing and very concerning to me. Question: Does science have the potential to turn humans into Zealots?