I do hope hope you don’t mind me calling you Charles, but “Mr Darwin” feels far too formal. I’m writing to you today, on February 12th 2009, to celebrate your birth 200 years ago. I’m sure you will have received many other such letters and accolades today, so I’ll try to keep it short.
I know that you feared the effect your work would have on humanity, but I wonder how you would have felt if you knew the controversy that still surrounds it, 150 years on. The two sides of the argument are often presented as science versus religion – or worse, atheism versus Christianity. It is an argument that I believe need not exist, and the ever-raging battle saddens me.
Like yourself I am not religious, although my atheism/apatheism goes further than your agnosticism. Many atheists other than myself will use this opportunity to commend Charles Darwin, Champion of the God-less. Equally, some religious people will vilify Charles Darwin, Heathen and Sinner.
I would like to celebrate Charles Darwin, Scientist. Your work on natural selection is a marvel; an idea so simple that a child can grasp it, but so powerful that it forms the basis for the existence of every single life-form on this planet. Very few scientists can claim such an achievement.
This blog was named in criticism of those who would dismiss evolution as “just” a theory. It’s not “just” anything, it is a theory, and it’s a bloody good one.
I close with an apology – I’ve never read On the Origin of Species. I think today is the time to rectify this, so I’ve placed an order for the book as a birthday present. I’ll let you know what I think.