Legislation Marking Darwin Day Honors Scientists and Skeptics

As the American Humanist Association’s legislative associate and lobbyist, I spend my time presenting the humanist community’s opinion to Congress on a wide array of legislative issues. While many of the bills I deal with are concerning, such as arguing against legislation that discriminates against LGBTQ Americans or supports government funding of private religious schools, every once in a while I get to work on a bill that is inspiring.

At the top of this list of “good” bills is the Darwin Day resolution, which shows gratitude for all that Charles Darwin and modern scientists have done to help improve humanity’s quality of life. This resolution also states that evolution provides humanity with a logical and intellectually compelling explanation for the diversity of life on Earth and claims that the teaching of creationism in some public schools compromises the scientific and academic integrity of the United States’ education systems.

Since 2011, the American Humanist Association has worked closely with members of Congress to introduce the Darwin Day resolution and work towards its passage through Congress. Past sponsors of the resolution include retired representatives Pete Stark (the first open atheist in Congress) and Rush Holt (a nuclear physicist and strong friend of the humanist community).

This year’s resolution, H. Res. 548, was introduced on December 3, 2015, by Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) and currently maintains the support of twenty cosponsors. Himes is notable for his past sponsorship of the Darwin Day resolution in 2015 and for recently receiving the Science Advocate Award from the AHA at our first-ever congressional reception. A similar resolution, S. Res. 337, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and has the support ofcosponsor Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT).

In addition to the national Darwin Day resolutions, Governor Jack Markell has signed a Darwin Day proclamation in Delaware officially recognizing February 12, 2016, as Darwin Day.Efforts at the state and local level to introduce more proclamations and resolutions are ongoing. As always, local humanist groups across the country will also be commemorating the day with informative talks, film screenings, readings of On the Origin of the Species, and birthday parties, among other festivities (see our guide to finding an event near you here).

This year’s Darwin Day is geared up to be the best celebration yet, and with the resounding support of government officials at the federal and state level, the humanist and scientific communities can truly feel as though our elected officials are finally taking a moment to respect the role that scientific discovery plays in improving our everyday lives.