Today is the 71st birthday of Judy Blume. It’s the 86th birthday of Franco Zeffirelli, And it’s the 200th birthday (or would be) of Charles Darwin.

Which is interesting, and happy birthday, but let’s not get carried away.

Darwinolatry, in addition to being a mite hypocritical for professed atheists, misses the point in the same way the so-callled “Lady Hope legend” misses the pont. Nothing called “evolution” sprung fully formed from Charles Darwin’s brow. Other people had the same idea, or a similar one, before and simultaneously with him. He formalized it and made it clear (well, by Victorian standards), but he certainly didn’t invent it.

Fanboying Darwin undermines the idea that ideas are tested by experiment and their worth hinges entirely on their truth while lending credence to the creationist idea that if they can just show that Darwin himself had doubts about the theory, they can get the whole thing to come crashing down. He probably did have doubts, initially, as scientists tend to, and he was flat-out wrong about some things (he had no notion of genetics or of particulate inheritance in general). Conversely, the “deathbed conversion” story, though arrant nonsense, is not actually relevant to whether or not one should accept evolution (not that evolution really cares what you think).

Darwin is certainly worthy of celebration. However, he should be remembered as a sepaprate entity from the theory of evolution he popularized and disseminated, and it should be remembered that theory doesn’t depend on him.

Advertisements