Saturday, February 05, 2011

Towards a Richer Darwin Day in the DC Area

The recent posting here on the Darwin Day video reminds us that we are close to the DD celebration. I see there is quite a bit of activity on Facebook about events and one may search for (and register) Darwin Day events on the International Darwin Day Foundation site -

When I searched for events in the DC area I found 2-3 of the kind I expected. The most on target was a Darwin Day talk “Beyond the Bare Bones: What Human Evolution Means to You” by Fred Edwords, National Director, United Coalition of Reason and former President of the American Humanist Association being held on February 13 from 10:30 AM. to 12:15. ( Continental Breakfast available at 9:30.

Another is WASH Northern Virginia Chapter’s talk by Mike Reid (vice president of WASH and current editor of WASHline) called Foundations of Evolution – see http://http//

I’m glad that we have both events in the DC area, and there may be other events not registered on the site, but I was surprised to find these 2 as the only ones listed. The larger DC area seems like a fertile ground to have a more generous set of offerings. There was an earlier public Talk sponsored by the Northern Virginia Ethical Society: Evangelizing for Evolution, Hugh Taft-Morales already held Jan 1 at the Green Hedges School in Vienna/VA 22180.
All of the rest of other 7 events listed were for something called “Evolution Weekend” Apparently many Unitarian Universalist congregations across the country (and around the world) are taking part in in the 6th Evolution Weekend, February 11-13, 2011 that brackets Darwin Day. Accotink Unitarian Universalist Church is one in the DC area doing this and another is in Southern Maryland But these present, as they note, sermons and discussion groups on the “compatibility of faith and science”! Michael Zimmerman, the initiator of the project, describes the program this way:

"Evolution Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science. One important goal is to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic — to move beyond sound bites. A second critical goal is to demonstrate that religious people from many faiths and locations understand that evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith. Finally … Evolution Weekend makes it clear that those claiming that people must choose between religion and science are creating a false dichotomy."
At his count, 575 congregations in all fifty states (and thirteen foreign countries) were scheduled to hold Evolution Weekend events. See

Well bully for them. And they offer some additionally aspects with some of their communities discussing “earthkeeping” resources and advocacy on environmental issues (from their faith and justice perspective. You can see some of their resources here. UUs are among the gentler religious folks that I know and what might understand there effort as putting their own slant on Darwin. I don’t mind a useful discussion, perhaps many of the attendees are humanists, but I would perhaps prefer to see a wider set of Darwin Day options offered without the religious angle. Discussions of the science-religion outnumber the purely Darwin-Science 7 to 2. This reminds me of the typical situation in climate change. You have the science and then you must have the "other side" which in this case in the religious side. But there are so many sides that it would be good to explore. There are many positions within the secular perspective and these might be featured or might look at the science vs. the philosophical aspects. Another night be the science vs the moral-ethical issues. These could be discussed apart from a religious frame.

My take away is that the secular-humanist community in DC has to get a bit more organized for next year for a fuller set of events. Perhaps we can offer an organized weekend. We would seem to have the talent and venues to pull this off and this site might be one place where a discussion of this can take place.


Don Wharton said...

Mike Reid will also be presenting his history of Darwinian thought on Saturday February 12th. This will be for the WASH MDC Chapter at the Cedar Lane Unitarian Church. Further details at:

Jennifer Chavez said...

I agree with your conclusion that we need a richer Darwin Day in DC. Without disparaging the events that we do have, I still wish for a broader variety, including some informal festivities.