The Full Darwin

We’re all going to get a surfeit of Darwin this week, but here’s a little more. You have room for just one more bite, right? The Nature podcast has a full slate of Darwiniana, with several of his descendants speaking up, poetry, house tours, and a bit of popular media, with Paul Bettany talking about his upcoming role as the young Darwin in a new movie, Creation.


  1. says

    The movie sounds interesting.

    What I’m wondering is what happened to the movie that was supposed to cover the Dover trial. Did it just quietly die?

    I’m guessing it did, and I suppose that’s all right, since Nova did such a fine job on that matter.

    Glen D

  2. James F says

    We just hit 180,000 people wishing Darwin a happy 200th on Facebook! There will be a phone/online conference tomorrow (1 PM EST) where registrants can listen to a discussion with scientists from Harvard, MIT, Yale, Columbia, and Washington University. The site has become a clearinghouse for online resources about Darwin’s life and evolution in general, and is currently featured online at Scientific American and National Geographic. 200,000 here we come…join us!


  3. Quiet_Desperation says

    Actually, I might be a bit Darwined out. I need a holiday that gives me a four day weekend.

    We just hit 180,000 people wishing Darwin a happy 200th on Facebook!

    Why? Do they believe he’s in the afterlife and will care?

    Wow. My cynicism gland is hyperstimulated today. Must be that stimulus package.

  4. Greg Peterson says

    Hey, PZ, I’ll take this chance to say that the guy who’s your “limo driver” for the Darwin Day event in Ohio was my roommate at the fundamentalist Nortwestern College we attended. He’s a great guy, and further evidence that even those of us who were deeply, deeply steeped in faith can be won over to reason. I wish you a safe and enjoyable trip!

  5. Prometheus says

    Quiet_Desperation wrote:

    “Why? Do they believe he’s in the afterlife and will care?”

    Haven’t you heard? He’s an atheist God now. That makes me wonder. What do we ask Darwin for in our prayers? Lab supplies? Good fortune in our pigeon breeding business?

  6. Ray Mills says

    Wishing Charlie a very happy birthday from NZ where its already 9:20 on 12/02/09 or 02/12/09 in american format

  7. says

    Why? Do they believe he’s in the afterlife and will care?

    Same reason people celebrate any sort of anniversary, I suppose. Not that I can explain that, either, so I’ll just shush up and go sit in the corner for a bit.

  8. Slaughter says

    I didn’t know this until today, but Darwin shares his 200th birthday with Abraham Lincoln. So, who is the greater figure, Charlie or Abe? Discuss.

  9. NewEnglandBob says

    So, who is the greater figure, Charlie or Abe? Discuss.

    Darwin, by far. Read this month’s Discover magazine (no, not the Discover Institute) article “Ascent of Darwin”, page 34, on the influence Darwin has has on the world (living organisms, money, cosmology, business, politics, religion, etc.).

    (…and no – social Darwinism has nothing to do with Darwin)

  10. Number8Dave says

    More birthday wishes from NZ, where we’re having a few friends round for a pot-luck dinner, a few drinks, and a Struggle for Existence Trivia Quiz (In his youth, Darwin delighted in eating unusual meals. Which of these choice titbits did he not sample? A. Puma foetus, B. Echidna, C. Darwin’s Rhea, D. Owl). And Pin the Tail on the Beagle, with vodka jellies for the winners. And maybe watch the new David Attenborough special.

  11. Moggie says

    “The full Darwin” sounds like either a wrestling move, or a euphemism for a sex act (perhaps involving the descent of the man).

  12. meh1963 says

    I’d think that Darwin is more important from a pure long-term-effect-on-society perspective. The ramifications of his setting forth his observations regarding natural selection are so profound and fundamental that modern biology wouldn’t exist without it. Neither would fields derived from biology – medicine, genetics, math (the concept of genetic algorithms for a starter), psychology, and more.

    Lincoln was a good man in his time and held the US together at a time when it was in great turmoil. Darwin, OTOH, provided a timeless framework for understanding the underlying mechanisms of the living organisms around us, and that particular bit of knowledge has fundamentally changed the world for the better.

  13. Number8Dave says

    While it’s Darwin’s and not Lincoln’s birthday I’ll be celebrating today, I suspect the world would not be that much different today if Darwin had never lived. Wallace and others would still have come up with the idea of evolution by natural selection, and all that follows from that. But without Lincoln, there would have been a very real chance of the US fragmenting into two countries, which would have had a major impact on the course of world history.

    That said, Darwin was a great natural scientist – far superior to Wallace – and a fine writer. Scientific culture would be much the poorer without him. And should we thank Lincoln for making the rise of a super-power possible? I’m genuinely not sure of the answer. Maybe yes, maybe no.

  14. marcia says

    If near D.C. tomorrow:

    Darwin Anniversary Symposium Baird Auditorium, 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm February 12, 2009 marks the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and the 150th year since the publication of his influential work, On the Origin of Species.

    To recognize Darwin’s scientific accomplishments, including his observations on plant and animal life, the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health, in conjunction with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, offers a day of discussions with distinguished panelists that will focus on a variety of topics from historical perspectives of Darwin to evolution and medicine.

  15. Brian says

    The misguided Lincolnists would have you worship this man almost as if he was their god, but amongst themselves they realize that his ideas were deeply flawed. He argued that the Declaration of Independence had greater standing than the Constitution: clearly not true. Publicly he was all for the end of slavery but privately he said: “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people.” General McClellan, as much of a friend as someone like Lincoln could hope to have, frequently referred to him as “nothing more than a well-meaning baboon”. Chauncey Depew famously said of Lincoln: “His power of avoiding difficult questions surpassed that of any man I ever met.” Even as great a man as Roosevelt said “If Lincoln had lived in a time of peace, no one would have known his name.” The Americans build giant graven images of him, in defiance of the Second Commandment. Do not be deceived! Put your faith not in mortal men, but in God.

  16. John Phillips, FCD says

    Brian: Which god would that be, Yahweh, Odin, Zeus, Vishnu etc. After all, we wouldn’t want to waste our time relying on the wrong one would we? If for no other reason than this god might get mighty pissed if we worship the wrong one :)

  17. Ichthyic says

    Now that I’m in NZ, I just realized Ray is right.

    We’re already celebrating here in the Land of the Future (TM).

    I’ve been going around explaining to everyone I run into why they should care what day it is.

    and discovering how surprisingly difficult it is, even here.

    …but then I get the impression that kiwis really don’t care much about things like birthdays and whatnot anyway.

  18. Ichthyic says

    The misguided Lincolnists

    always considered myself more of a Jefferson fan, actually:

    “Some have made the love of God the foundation of morality. This, too, is but a branch of our moral duties, which are generally divided into duties to God and duties to man. If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such being exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to-wit: their own affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. have observed, indeed, generally, that while in protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D’Alembert, D’Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.”

    ~ Thomas Jefferson, in a Letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814.

    The Americans build giant graven images of him

    hmm, how do you feel about statues of the ten commandments in front of courthouses?

  19. Ick of the East says

    Lucky Bettany gets to make another trip to the Galapagos.

    In Master and Commander, he played naturalist Steven Maturin, who dropped a cage full of Galapagos finches when running to warn his ship that the French were coming. This was in 1805.
    This mishap set back the Theory of Evolution by decades.

    Let’s hope he can make up for that accident.

  20. Gerry L says

    Heads up: Ray Comfort will be a guest on the Thom Hartmann show on Air America radio on 12 February — Darwin Day, for crying out loud. (

    Thom usually takes listener calls. Someone want to call and ask about fruit, say bananas? (I’ll be at work with no radio.)

  21. Brian says

    @#24: “Brian: Which god would that be…?”

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster, of course. You have to ask? What are you, one of those Invisible Pink Unicornists? (Not that I despise her or anything, but her unshod hooves are no noodly appendages.)

    PS: Ten points to anyone who can identify the quote-mine in my previous post (#23).

  22. Adile Ayhan tubaöver says

    In 18th century’s French materialism respect and stand of the Baron D’hollbach

    Mehmet Fatih Doğrucan

  23. 'Tis Himself says

    General McClellan, as much of a friend as someone like Lincoln could hope to have, frequently referred to him as “nothing more than a well-meaning baboon”.

    McClellan despised Lincoln. Among other things, McClellan had been vice president of the Illinois Central Railroad while Lincoln was the railroad’s general counsel. McClellan hadn’t liked Lincoln when he was Lincoln’s boss and, during the Civil War, was really unhappy that Lincoln was now his boss.

    McClellan went out of his way to be difficult to Lincoln. McClellan refused to divulge any details about his strategic planning, or even mundane details such as troop strengths and dispositions. (For his part, McClellan claimed not to trust anyone in the administration to keep his plans secret from the press, and thus the enemy.)

    Whatever else can be said about George McClellan, he was not a friend of Lincoln.