Happy Darwin Day!

According to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, species change gradually over long periods of time until eventually a new species is formed. Sometimes, social change and acceptance can feel just as slow and gradual as natural selection. But progress continues. This year, the American Humanist Association has made significant strides in the evolution of Darwin Day as a nationally and internationally recognized holiday.

This is the fourth year that a resolution to observe Darwin Day has been introduced in the U.S. House. H. Res. 67 calls upon Congress to acknowledge the contributions of science to the betterment of humanity by commemorating February 12, Darwin’s birthday, as Darwin Day. It also urges Congress to support scientific research in response to global climate change and to promote the advancement of science education in public schools (as opposed to the teaching of pseudo-scientific creationism and intelligent design).

The resolution was introduced by U.S. Representative Jim Himes (CT-04). The American Humanist Association worked closely with Rep. Himes and his staff toward the creation of this important legislation, which currently has fourteenco-sponsors: Rep. Matthew Alton Cartwright (PA-17), Rep. Stephen Cohen (TN-09), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Rep. Bill Foster (IL-11), Rep. Mike Honda (CA-17), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Rep. Alan S. Lowenthal (CA-47), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02), Rep. Janice Schakowsky (IL-09), Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28), Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09), and Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14). If you don’t see your representative on this list, you can contact them here and ask them to support the Darwin Day resolution.

This is also the first year in which a Darwin Day resolution has also been introduced in the U.S. Senate. Thanks to Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT), who worked with the Secular Coalition of America, of which AHA is a coalition member, S. Res. 66 would also recognize February 12 as national Darwin Day. If you’d like to promote this vital legislation, you can contact your Senator and urge her or him to support the Darwin Day resolution in the Senate.

Finally, 2015 marks the first time a Darwin Day resolution has been introduced in the state of Arizona. State Rep. Andrew Sherwood (AZ-26) worked with local activists in order to introduce this resolution. Other state and local officials who have promoted Darwin Day include Governor Jack Markell of Delaware, Mayor Jean Stothert of Omaha, Nebraska, and Mayor John Watras of Garden City, New York, who have all issued Darwin Day proclamations.

Some legislators might be slow to evolve in their acceptance of Darwin Day, but that hasn’t stopped local groups throughout the country and even internationally from hosting their own parties to celebrate February 12. The Central Colorado Humanists are screening the documentary, The Ghost in Your Genes, followed by a discussion and birthday party. The Humanists of Utah have organized a presentation by University of Utah Professor of Physics Paul Ricketts, and the Baltimore Coalition of Reason has planned a discussion with Jason Rosenhouse, a mathematics professor who has investigated the teachings and culture surrounding the creationist movement. A full list of events can be found on the Darwin Day website, and many groups have celebrations planned for February 13 and over the weekend as well, so it’s never too late to join in!

How are you celebrating Darwin Day this year?