Many of us in Illinois know that Feb. 12 is President Lincoln's birthday, but few of us know that Charles Darwin shares his birth with the Great Emancipator. That's because they won't let evolution be taught in public schools. Oops, that's Tennessee. Or it was in the 1925.
Regardless, Feb. 12 marks Darwin's 199th birthday. Still considered the grand old man of natural selection, whose theories on evolution are still rejected by better than a third of Americans, according to pollsters. That must mean that third either believes in biblical theory or intelligent design.
On Feb. 12, there will be more than 850 observances of Darwin’s birthday worldwide, including film festivals, museum exhibits and banquets. One would think Tennessee would pass on any observance seeing that the state was the home to the Scopes "Monkey Trial" in 1925 and became the butt of numerous jokes. State law then prohibited the teaching of evolution. However, since 1987 the city of Dayton, Tenn. has staged a re-enactment of the trial using the original transcripts, performing it in the very same courtroom in which the trial took place. The town even holds an annual Scopes Trial Festival.
But that argument over teaching evolution in Tennessee will seem small potatoes (not ones genetically altered, it's just a phrase, folks) compared to next year, the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s “Origin of Species.” The debate could begin anew.