Happy Darwin Day. In case you didn’t know, 12th February is the birthday anniversary of Charles Darwin, born this day in 1809.
For many it’s a day to celebrate Darwin’s contribution to science, and to promote science in general. If you’re Richard Dawkins, it’s a day to revel in atheism and tweet statements like “Darwin amazingly showed that complex, apparent design doesn’t need a designer”, and generally bang on about how only the willfully ignorant and childishly superstitious could believe in God after Darwin’s theory of evolution brought the light of reason and truth into the world.
For me, it’s a day to reflect that if Charles Darwin hadn’t been born, I wouldn’t have been born 170 years later. He’s my great-great-great grandfather. Without him there’d be no me, so February 12th makes me think about the miracle of existence; the random links in the chain of my life, the fact I exist at all. Wondering about the miracle of life brought me back to belief in God – God simply defined as that which sustains all things in life.
Darwin Day has become something of a cause célèbre in recent years. Both the American and British Humanist Associations support an international campaign to have 12th February recognised as a public holiday. After all, they reason, Christians have holidays so why should atheists be excluded from the party? Why should Christians get the monopoly on state holidays?
Yes, it must be so hard for my secular humanist and atheist friends, forced into taking public holidays they don’t believe in every Easter and Christmas. Every time an atheist friend has to say ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Happy Christmas’ I feel the depth of their oppression, and know they’d rather be spending the day like any day devoid of religious signficance, ie. at work. With Darwin Day, they’ll be able to work happily all year round knowing that at least they’ll have one holiday to call their own.
Okay, I’m being flippant. Darwin Day is a daft idea, but I’m all for it. The personal reasons I have for celebrating February 12th are the same reasons everyone has for celebrating : the miracle that we’re here at all. Darwin’s questioning attitude to the miracle of existence is the same questioning attitude that leads people to belief in God. The more people wondering ‘What is this funny thing called life?’ the better. Darwin Day might lead more people to God. And who doesn’t love a public holiday?