A White House Petition to Deny Darwin Day Resolution

Last week, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) submitted a resolution “[e]xpressing support for designation of February 12, 2013, as Darwin Day and recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.”

Now, there’s a White House petition circulating with the intent of striking down that potential resolution.

(Because, you know, that’s how government works. Politicians propose resolutions and people on the Internet vote them down.)

Whereas a 2012 Gallup poll found that 46% of Americans express some form of opposition to the General Theory of Evolution, a declaration of a national Darwin Day would not be representative of nearly half the US population. This would be tantamount to the government taking a position in the controversial debate of creation versus evolution. Regardless of which view one holds to be correct, this is outside of the government’s role in U.S. society, where toleration of differing views has always been held to be a virtue. But when the government takes a stand on these issues which should be debated among the population, this can be needlessly divisive. We ask President Obama to recognize the differing views among the population [and] deny any motion to declare February 12, 2013 as Darwin Day.

Who knew the government wasn’t allowed to take sides in the battle between ignorance and science?

Anyway, the petition needs 100,000 signatures by February 23rd in order to get a response from the White House.

It’s at 95 at the time of this writing.

I think we’re gonna be ok… but, for once, don’t Pharyngulate the poll.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chengis-Khan/100003317165064 Chengis Khan

    Taking sides between ignorance and science is way more difficult than taking sides between god and science. Because we all know that ignorance is omnipresent.

    • Ibis3

      Not only that but we’re certain that ignorance actually exists.

  • SecularPatriot

    96 signatures, well then.

    I’ll just sit back and wait for all the fundamentalists that are competent with a computer to sign that.

    • corhen

      they already all have…

  • eric

    So, they are asking the head of the executive branch to deny a motion put to Congress by a Congressman. My advice to the authors; spend less time writing petitions and more time doing your 10th grade civics homework.

  • A3Kr0n

    I think the petition has it backwards. Wouldn’t the government be taking a position in favor of religion if it struck down the Darwin Day resolution?

    • Sam Piip

      Only if they said “We’re striking this down because Darwin was a heretic”.

  • Patrick Dunn

    Picky, I know, but this is about a petition, not a poll, so there’s nothing to Pharyngulate (good word!). But we understand what you mean.

  • ortcutt

    These idiots need a Civics lesson because a Simple Resolution like the one that Holt proposed–see the “H.Res.”–doesn’t even go to the President for signature. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Executive Branch.

    http://democrats.rules.house.gov/archives/lph-forms.htm

  • Stonyground

    Don’t you just wish that all the anti-science types could be made to live without the advantages of science for a while? Let them try living with no clean water, no transport better than a horse drawn cart, no effective medicine, a capricious food supply and not a single electronic toy.

    • SecularPatriot

      Mississippi still votes GOP.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Bubba Tarandfeathered

      They call those people Luddites and Amish

      • allein

        Nah, the Amish use modern medicine (for the most part, anyway). They even vaccinate their kids (though to a lesser degree than would be ideal). They vary by group, and their approach in some areas is different than the mainstream, of course.

        http://amishamerica.com/do-amish-visit-doctors/

    • nakedanthropologist

      ^^This^^. Absolutely. “Opposed to the general theory of evolution” – then by all means, creationists – put your money where your mouths are, and live without all the things the knowledge of evolution has contributed to, like antibiotics. Geez, do these people hear themselves?

      • Chris B

        Don’t forget some of the other good ones like modern corn, strawberries, green beans without the strings, avocados (pretty much the only useful ones are Hass avocados cloned from a single tree), high yield barley (used for beer), and highly specialized breeds of dogs! Evolution and gene theory are the fundamental frameworks upon which all of these rest.

        I am speculating here, but I don’t think the planet could naturally support the current population. A large portion of our food supply depends on high-yield crops that were cultivated by humans.

        It amazes me that evolution can present such an overwhelming amount of evidence and people choose to ignore it because it contradicts their magic book…

        • allein

          You forgot bananas!

        • njew84

          On the contrary one could make a very good argument much of our problems we face from sickness to poverty is largely due to agricultural science and simply our attempt to “make life easier.” Yes we can feed more people and no we probably couldn’t support the world population today without it but it wasn’t entirely necessary for survival either.

          Unfortunately with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In my opinion the point where we started domesticating plants and animals is actually where we really screwed up. From deseases from living with animals to owners of large farms gaining power over the little guy. I suppose it was inevitable but just think if it had been avoided.

          Sure there are a lot of advantages of being technologically advanced as far as machinery and computers and what not but I honestly believe we could have been better off in the long term without a lot of scientific discoveries. Call me crazy or backwords if you want but its pretty obvious to me that when you try to improve the quality of life by messing with nature it almost always has a Positive effect for the here and now but negative for the future.

          An example being automobiles. They were great when they first came out and still are because it allows us to travel longer distances in shorter periods of time. Unfortunately again there is always that negative. Gas prices, pollution ect. That’s is just one of many examples.

          • cipher

            On the contrary one could make a very good argument much of our problems we face from sickness to poverty is largely due to agricultural science and simply our attempt to “make life easier.”

            Jared Diamond has been pushing this idea in recent years, and I think it has merit. Unfortunately, it’s too late to do anything about it now. I don’t think we can solve our problems, and we certainly aren’t going back to a hunter-gatherer (or even a pre-industrial) way of life.

            We’re just screwed.

    • Miss_Beara

      They should also stop using technology created by atheists.

  • Santiago

    If it is about science, why not just make it science day? I understand creationism is strong and on the rise in the USA but still, is making a government endorsed Darwin day necessary?

    • Quintin van Zuijlen

      Not necessary, but I think calling it science day would have little effect. I think most US citizens have a warm feeling for the word science, buy little love for the actual science. In that light, naming the day on which Americans are supposed to remember the importance of science after a hugely important figure to much, if not all, of science, whose name many Americans can only hate, is, I think, perhaps quite a good decision.

      • Santiago

        “… whose name many Americans can only hate, is, I think, perhaps quite a good decision”
        :)

  • shouldbeworkin

    As a proclamation of a day of prayer would also not be representative of all Americans, I’m sure that the signers of this petition would also totally be against that as well*.

    *Poster is not responsible for any damages resulting from exploding sarcasm detectors.

    • pansies4me

      I had the exact same reaction as I was reading it. Of course, they’d say way more than 50% are Christian, so that makes it OK.

      • Pedro Lemos

        So, if 46% of Americans express some form of opposition to the General Theory of Evolution, then 54% support it, so that makes it OK too…

  • Sven2547

    Actively trying to deny the recognition of one of the most important scientists in the history of biological study. This is practically the definition of anti-science.

  • Cecelia Baines

    Here is the thing – either side, Pro Darwin Day or Con Darwin Day – for the ove of humanity, we have so many bigger fish to fry and things to accomplish than to waste time on something this trivial in comparison.

    Both sides, GROW UP AND HELP FIX THE COUNTRY FIRST. Once that is done, we can then work on the secondary issues such as this.

    • Sven2547

      The public perception of science IS something that needs fixing in this country. When people start taking science seriously, a lot of other things will be fixed much more quickly.

      • Cecelia Baines

        I agree. However, with all the other truly pressing issues, spending time and resources on this is irresponsible on both sides part. I think it is more important to ensure women have rights over their bodies, the economy gets fixed, the defense budget gets shrunk and immigration reform takes place. Call me silly that way. Darwin, while a great influence and mind, has waited this long for his day, he can wait a little longer while we evolve into a smart and just society.

  • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

    Controversial debate between creationism and evolution?!? Deba—oh for Thor’s sake!

  • TheBlackCat13

    Wait, so they are trying to get the president to block making February 12th Darwin day…on February 23rd? Yeah, that’s going to help…

  • blah

    Maybe it’s because Darwin was racist. Celebrating a racist’s scientific contributions during black history month =s a bad idea in my book

    • Rev. Red Mage

      George Washington was a slave owner, yet his birthday is a national holiday.
      Want to re-think that last bit?

    • Erp

      Far less racist than the vast majority of whites of the time. Charles Darwin came from an abolitionist family and his first book, Voyage of the Beagle, very much denounced the slavery he encountered in South America and the double standard Europeans used when judging other Europeans versus slaves. In a letter to Asa Gray in 1863 (19 Jan, just after the Emancipation Proclamation), he wrote “Well, your President has issued his fiat against Slavery—God grant it may have some effect.”

  • cipher

    a declaration of a national Darwin Day would not be representative of nearly half the US population.

    More than half the country didn’t want George Bush to be president twelve years ago – but that didn’t bother them.

  • http://bsoi.st/ bsoist

    I started to ask via the feedback form, but perhaps someone here knows.

    I wish there was a way to voice an opinion on this petition aside from just not signing it. I thought briefly about reporting it as inappropriate but decided against it.

    Is there some way to tack on comments about the petition? or something along those lines?

    Part of me hopes they get enough signatures so the White House can make an official statement regarding people who are scared of science.

  • amycas

    “This would be tantamount to the government taking a position in the controversial debate of creation versus evolution.”

    Oh, I guess they also have a problem with starting congressional and city council sessions with prayer and establishing a national prayer day, since that’s the government taking a position in the controversial debate of whether or not prayer works.


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