I was lucky enough to visit a Darwin Day event on Saturday, February 13, 2016 at the Ethical and Humanist Society in Skokie, Illinois. My “date” for the evening was my board member, Steven Kierewicz. I was very happy to meet Tom Cara, the Chicago Chapter leader for the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Bill Zingrone, the Illinois Chapter leader for the Secular Coalition of America. Boy, did we have a great time! There was a huge crowd in the auditorium where Bill gave a short lecture on the life of Charles Darwin and afterwords showed the movie “Creation” which tells the story of Darwin, the death of his daughter, Annie, his relationship with his very devout wife, Emma and his writing of “On the Origin of Species.” It was a very poignant movie and showed a side of Charles Darwin most have never heard of. After the movie, we had a very enjoyable dinner, chatting, and seeing familiar faces (I’m calling you out, Frank Anderson!!!) from Atlanta among my friends at Black Non-Believers.
Charles Darwin came to a very hard and heart-wrenching conclusion that his Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection was a firm fact in the scientific community. He came to this conclusion at middle age but began his adventure at the age of 22 with his voyage on the HMS Beagle captained by James FitzRoy. After his five year journey, he didn’t only bring a bit of evidence back. No, he brought trunks full and along with his friends from the Royal Society, Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Charles Lyell, they examined fossils of the Giant Sloth of Patagonia and a capybara the size of a rhinoceros! The famous ornithologist of the time, John Gould, pointed out to Darwin that many of the specimens of bird he brought back with him were not different kinds of birds, but different types of finches, adapted to the different islands of the Galapagos where they came from. That was the first, real, solid evidence that Darwin knew would be the cause of the most difficult time in his life; keeping peace in his home with his devoutly Christian wife whom he adored, or showing the world that he could prove that the story in Genesis was unsupported and man had evolved from animal. It took him 20 years but after a letter from Alfred Russell Wallace, who came to the same evolutionary opinions and the pushing of his esteemed friends, Darwin published “On the Origin of Species” in November of 1859.
That book, along with “Decent of Man”, did not make Darwin very many friends during his time, but now, after the discovery of genetics and DNA, his theory is as true as Newton’s Theory of Gravity and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Although, many in the United States would disagree, to me he is a hero and a man born way before his time. MP