I’ve chosen to examine this article published in the New York Times in February 2013 because it is a unique example of the progressive scientific community advancing on the matter of evolution in public policy rather than retreating. Oftentimes, this class studies those who accept the theory of evolution as true and their actions to defend the culture surrounding this idea. US Representative Rush Holt (D. NJ) took steps in early 2013 to introduce a resolution to the US House of Representatives that would federally recognize Charles Darwin’s birthday, February 12, as Darwin Day. Holt, a nuclear physicist and leader within the Quaker community, wants to formally recognize the scientific communities’ contributions, “the jobs it creates, [and] the lives it saves”.
This article, written by Mark Oppenheimer, juxtaposes Holt’s views and scientific and religious credibility with the reputation and policies of Paul Broun, an evangelical Christian who represents Georgia in the US House. Broun has been quoted as saying that “evolution and embryology and the Big Bang theory, all that is lies, straight from the pit of hell” to “keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior”. A Baptist and a member of the Gideons, Broun has clearly allowed his personal religious beliefs to influence his political ideology and thus his support or lack thereof for Holt’s Darwin Day.
Oppenheimer explores the backlash surrounding Darwin and the theory of evolution among secular and religious communities within the US and makes a point to distinguish between the cultural significance of Darwin and the scientific facts on evolution. The resolution, HRES 41, was introduced to the House in 2013 and subsequently referred to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology but unfortunately never made it out of committee. An identitical resolution was resubmitted in January 2014 and suffered the same fate.
If this resolution were to pass in the US House and the Senate, how do you think the American people would react? How do you think the evangelical community would react? How would the communities you are from respond? Do you think this is a good idea or do you believe this resolution violates the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution?