Laurie Lebo writes a most informative background article on this observance, focusing on Michael Zimmerman's efforts to support the teaching of evolution in our schools. I learned something in this essay (not that Indianapolis' Butler University is in Wisconsin -- a minor mistake). I didn't know that Zimmerman was himself an atheist. But unlike Richard Dawkins, he doesn't believe that using evolution as a platform for espousing atheism does science any good. What he discovered in his own efforts was that many religious people, including clergy believed that evolution and faith were compatible. That led him to conclude that maybe it's religious folk that need to take the lead. Though, I must say that Michael works tireously on this effort, and he has treated me as a religious leader with utmost respect. I don't feel like he's using me to further an end, rather he has invited me to participate in an important effort that vital implications. I've been only too eager to help!
Lebo closes with an extended quote from St. Augustine, who cautioned fellow Christians against posing their faith against the science of the day.
Usually even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens and the other elements of this world, about the motions of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.
Now it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics…. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field in which they themselves know well and hear him maintain his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books and matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learned from experience in the light of reason?
So, won't you join me in celebrating Charles Darwin's birthday on the weekend of February 13-15?