Last updated 26 December 2013
J. L. HUDSON, SEEDSMAN, BOX 337, LA HONDA, CALIFORNIA 94020-0337 USA
Celebrate Darwin Day this February 12th!
Happy Birthday Mr. Darwin!
Thanks for everything!
Charles Darwin was born 12th February 1809.
This is the 204th anniversary of his birth!
Visit the Darwin Day Website:
Evolution is the most important scientific discovery of the past two centuries, revealing to us our past, and the great history of the development of life on Earth from simple origins.
Evolution is truly "the greatest story ever told".
Evolution is a fact, not "just a theory" - it is readily observable all around us, is demonstrated in the fossil record, and is an ongoing, ever-present process.
Although the theory of evolution by means of natural selection was
first published in 1831 by Patrick Matthew, a Scottish nurseryman, this went unnoticed
by the scientific community for 27 years until after
the joint presentation of the theory on July 1st, 1858 at the Linnaean Society by Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles
Darwin, followed by the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859 by Charles Darwin.
The theory should be called the "Matthew/Wallace/Darwinian theory of
evolution through natural selection." (Let's give credit where credit is
Evolutionary science has come a long way since Darwin (it is now recognized that natural selection is only one of the processes causing evolution), but the fundamental fact of the evolution of complex living beings from simple origins has been verified many times. In fact, even in non-living matter there is an often-expressed tendency towards greater complexity and structure—the creation of heavier elements from simple hydrogen atoms through fusion in the hearts of stars; the consequent formation of complex molecules from those elements; crystalline structures and minerals; mountains, valleys, and complex structures created by erosion; currents, ripples, and bubbles in flowing water; and many other examples.
The Writings of Charles Darwin:
Many of Darwin's books have been made available as free downloads online:
at the University of Adelaide Library.
Darwin was a kind and gentle man. He wrote and spoke for the rights and dignity of all mankind - he was not a racist as some claim, but wrote and spoke of the equality and unity of all humanity. He actively worked for the abolition of slavery, for the education of women, for the education and welfare of the poor and working classes, and wrote eloquently against cruelty to animals and vivisection. The cruel "social Darwinism" of those who distorted or misunderstood his theories has nothing to do with the gentle man himself.
Send me your Darwin and evolution links!
"Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution."
—Theodosius Dobzhansky, geneticist.
The War on Evolution
Check back here as I will eventually be uploading some more history on the war on evolution.
With the current war on evolution by superstitious religious
fundamentalists who are trying to eliminate the teaching of evolution in schools, and send the
United States back into the Dark Ages, we all owe it to our children to fight back, and insure that
they receive the best education possible.
The National Center for Science Education defends the teaching of evolution in public schools. Visit their website at www.natcenscied.org
In a free, pluralistic society, we cannot allow religious views to be forced upon us by a vocal, belligerent minority. If the phrase "the war on evolution" seems strong, consider that on December 5th, 2005, University of Kansas Professor Paul Mirecki was hospitalized after a beating by two men. During the beating, the attackers referred to Prof. Mirecki's course on the "creation/evolution" controversy, which had in fact been cancelled the week before.
"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."
—Blaise Pascal, mathematician and philosopher, 1623 - 1662.
This is ironic because one of the main tactics developed by creationists in order to sneak creationism into the schools is to insist that schools "teach the controversy". Prof. Mirecki's beating underscores the "fundamental" hypocrisy and immorality of the fundamentalists. I recommend "The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and a School Board in Dover, PA" by Gordy Slack. This book is an interesting and readable account of the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial, in which conservative, George W. Bush-appointed Judge John Jones III, after a 40 day trial, and six weeks of deliberation and writing, handed down a 139-page decision which ruled against the teaching of creationism (under the guise "intelligent design") in public schools.
An educational website evolution.berkeley.edu, operated by the University of California to help teachers, is the subject of a lawsuit by a religious couple, challenging public funding of the site.
We think that religious people are free to believe whatever they like, and teach their children whatever they choose - if they wish to disadvantage their own children in this manner, they have that right. They do not have the right to force their superstitions on the rest of us. Historically, the nations that rejected evolutionary science were seriously limited in their advancement in the realms of science, agricultural production, health, morality, and human freedom and dignity. Evolution is the path into the future!
The century-long war against evolution is still being waged with extraordinary fervor, and it is time for all who value truth over superstition, and human dignity over totalitarianism, to stand up and fight back. Demand that your local schools teach your children the best science available, and reject the teaching of superstition in the guise of "intelligent design" or "creation science".
"Science is a philosophy of discovery; intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance."
—Neil Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, New York.
Even many religious believers recognize that "intelligent design" is a fraud:
"Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be. If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."
—Rev. George Coyne, Vatican chief astronomer.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an excellent organization working to uphold the mandate of the Founding Fathers, and the explicit requirement of the United States Constitution, to keep church and state separate. Visit www.ffrf.org and join. We are members ourselves, and enjoy their informative journal Freethought Today. Help keep America smart, strong, and free!
"Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."
—Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize-winning physicist.
Since the posting of this page in February 2006, I have received a number of "hate emails" from Christians. Not one of them has spoken against the violent attack on Prof. Mirecki, or given any indication that they oppose the violent imposition of their faith on the majority of Americans. In this respect, they are like their Islamic counterparts in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
No priest, minister, mullah, or rabbi ever put a man on the moon, invented an antibiotic or other life-saver for our hospitals, or invented a radio, electric light, automobile, train, or even a zipper or sliced bread.* When religious fundamentalists have contributed to human advancement even 1% of the amount that science and reason have, then they might have something to complain about. Until that time, I suggest to fundamentalists that you stop using the inventions made by science for even one week before you send me your little tirades.
While I sympathize with religionists' need for a meaning to their lives, I recommend getting up off one's knees and creating one's own meaning:
"Evolution has no purpose; man must supply this for himself."
—George G. Simpson, paleontologist, in "The Meaning of Evolution: A Study of the History of Life and of its Significance for Man", 1949, page 310.
Several books I can recommend:
Losing Faith in Faith by Dan Barker. Moving account by a former fundamentalist preacher as he seeks truth, loses faith, and becomes an outspoken advocate for atheism.
The End of Faith by Sam Harris. A lucid expose of the failings of religious faith, the crimes of religion, and a plea for a society based on reason.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Hard-hitting critique of religion, and why to choose atheism and reason.
God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens.
* An interested reader has kindly corrected me on this, by
reminding me that the monk Gregor Mendel founded the science of genetics. Yes, Mendel was a monk,
and yes, many scientists over the centuries have held religious beliefs (among my friends who are
working scientists are a number who are deeply religious). But we need to remember that Mendel made
his discoveries through the use of science not religion. (I should also note that Mendel actually fudged his data to
make it come out "right". What would Jesus do? Lie about data?
Probably!) While someone will probably dig up an example of a clergyman inventing something,
I stand by the claim that religious fundamentalists have contributed less than 1% - probably
less than .0001% of all human advancement. The vast majority of religious fundamentalists have
consistently opposed all major human advances.
Let's remember that there is a difference between the religious fundamentalist of the type that beats up people and tries to force their beliefs on everyone, and individuals with a gentler, more private faith.
The point I make here is that science - the systematic inquiry into the nature of phenomena through repeatable and testable observation and experiment - is the source of all genuine knowledge of reality. I do not doubt that prayer, meditation, devotion, and other religious practices may produce interesting mental states which are satisfying or meaningful to those who experience them, but they do not point to anything outside of the mind of the individual.
There are certainly some interesting observations here. For example, the extraordinary Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan claimed that he received mathematical insights from the Hindu goddess Laxmi or Namagiri (it is not clear which), whom he said visited him in his dreams and instructed him. This does not point to anything outside of Ramanujan's own brain - if a dozen mathematicians had made the same claim, we might investigate further. And all of Ramanujan's contributions needed to be tested here, in the non-dream world - we did not accept them on faith.