Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Darwin Day

Today marks the 199th anniversary of the births of two great emancipators: Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. What do you buy someone for their 199th? We're well past the golden years here. Adamantium maybe? Anyway, the point is this: let's put Lincoln aside for a little while. Don't get me wrong; this is a better world without slavery, and you just can't beat those President's Day sales down at the Auto-Mart. You can use your tax refund as a down payment for Christ's sake! And Lincoln's strength and wisdom during this country's most terrible time should never cease to be celebrated. But even though his second inaugural address is one of the most lyrical speeches ever written, it still drapes the cloak of slavery around the Christian god. Lincoln said that the north and south worshiped the same god: the god who had once allowed slavery as a necessary evil and who now wanted humanity to set it aside. While this sentiment of solidarity no doubt offered comfort to those families torn apart by war, Darwin's contribution to society was infinitely more profound. Not only were the north and south a single family united by religion, but they were also a single species united by millions of years of common ancestry. It wasn't God who put a stop to slavery. It was the struggle of a group of people united by an ideal that placed humanism above scripture and morality above superstition. Darwin closed the door on God as the guiding force of human progress, allowing us to assume responsibility for ourselves. Our failures are our own, but so are our successes. So today let's celebrate Lincoln as one of our most important mammals and nothing more. Let's attribute Darwin with helping to end the silly practice of deification. There are no gods. There's just us. And we're better.

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