The Evolution of Darwin Day: AHA Helps Introduce Congressional Resolution to Honor Charles Darwin

When Charles Darwin published his groundbreaking book, On the Origin of Species, in 1859, he forever changed the way humanity viewed the world and our place in it. Scientists had long been debating the relationships between different species of animals and plants, and many had observed that certain species shared specific, anatomical characteristics. Darwin’s insights into the process of natural selection, however, explained these observations and shed light on the reasons for the wide range of diversity of life on earth. Today, Darwin’s findings continue to inspire new discoveries and influence the work of biologists, geneticists, and doctors.

Because of his profound insights, Charles Darwin’s life is one that more than deserves celebration. His curiosity, creativity and passion have encouraged countless other thinkers and impacted nearly every aspect of our culture. Efforts to have an officially recognized, international commemoration of Darwin and his legacy have been on-going since 1993, when Dr. Robert Stephens established Darwin Day.

Since then, people around the world have honored Darwin and the values of reason, critical thinking and scientific inquiry on or around February 12. Birthday parties, speaker series, and family events are just some examples of the festivities being held by local groups, and a full list of events can be viewed on the official Darwin Day website, maintained by the American Humanist Association.

Turning Darwin Day into an official holiday, however, also involves advocacy and collaboration with legislators at the local, state and national levels. Many city officials have previously issued local proclamations acknowledging Darwin Day, and the American Humanist Association has played a pivotal role in supporting national resolutions to recognize Darwin Day.

Since 2009, AHA has worked to grow Darwin Day’s impact. In 2011, AHA collaborated with former U.S. Representative Pete Stark (CA), the first and only open atheist to serve in Congress, to introduce the Darwin Day Resolution. In 2013 and 2014, former U.S. Representative Rush Holt (NJ) reintroduced the Darwin Day Resolution. Today, Rep. Jim Himes (CT) introduced House Resolution 67 to recognize Darwin Day, and the AHA will continue to work toward the passage of this significant resolution.

The passage of a Darwin Day Resolution in Congress would recognize the contributions of scientists and the ways in which they would better humanity. It would also validate Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and encourage further discovery and inquiry of the natural world. With many U.S. legislators ignoring the increasing threat of global warming and backing anti-science measures to have creationism and intelligent design taught in public schools, the official recognition of Darwin Day is more needed than ever before.

To help AHA in supporting the Darwin Day Resolution, ask your member of Congress to co-sponsor House Resolution 67, and learn more about Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution, or discover events that local groups are hosting, by visiting the official Darwin Day website,