Fresno Darwin Day Celebration – Pizza and a movie!

The Central Valley Alliance of Atheists and Skeptics is having it's first ever Darwin Day celebration!

February 12th marks Darwin's 199th birthday! Everyone who wishes to be there to share some pizza and a movie with us is welcome! Bring a friend. Bring a party hat!

We will be watching the movie, “Inherit the Wind” (1960).

Here are the details:
- CVAAS Movie Night, featuring the movie "Inherit the Wind" (1960)

- Tuesday, February 12

What Time:
- 6 PM to 8:30 PM. The film will start at 6:30, and run time is 128 minutes

- Round Table Pizza


Clovis/W Herndon
775 West Herndon Ave #300
Clovis, Ca 93612
(559) 297-8264 - Pizza phone number
(559) 892-0102 - CVAAS phone number

You can find out more about this event at the CVAAS Meetup site.

"Inherit the Wind" (1960)

Based upon a fictionalized account of the Scopes Monkey Trial, "Inherit the Wind" features teacher BT Cates who is arrested for teaching Darwin's theories to his class. Famous layer Henry Drummond defends Cates while the religious politician Matthew Brady prosecutes.

Some of the debates between the prosecution and defense are taken verbatim from the Scopes Monkey Trial (Scopes v. State of Tennessee, 1925). J. T. Scopes was the teacher arrested for teaching human evolution in violation of Tennessee's "Butler Act". Clarence Darrow defended Scopes while William Jennings Bryan prosecuted. Scopes was found guilty at the end of the trial, and ordered to pay a $100 fine - on appeal the conviction was overturned on a technicality and the Butler Act was held to be constitutional. The Butler Act was enforced in Tennessee until 1967 when it was repealed by the Tennessee Legislature.

Since 1987 the City of Dayton Tennessee has reenacted this famous trial every year, in the courtroom where the trial originally took place, using the official trial transcripts as the script for the reenactment. You can read excerpts from the trial transcripts here.

Darwin Day

February 12 is the birthday of Charles Darwin, and secular groups across the United States will celebrate this date in honor of the life of the man who described biological evolution through natural selection in his book, "The Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection". You can download "The Origin of Species" here.

By honoring Darwin's contributions as a symbol of the value of science, we are acknowledging that science is our most reliable method of gaining new knowledge and we are promoting a common bond with others around the world who also value the contributions of science.

Darwin's findings have led to the present-day theory of evolution via genetic variation and natural selection, which is the central organizing principle of modern biology. Removing evolution from biology would be like removing the periodic table from chemistry or removing Newton's findings from physics. Modern genetics has conclusively demonstrated the validity of Darwin's finding of evolution through natural selection, making Darwin an excellent symbol of science.

You can find out more about Darwin Day at the official Darwin Day website.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mark,
Thanks for guiding me to you site. Just a question, what in modern genetics has conclusively demonstrated the validity of Darwin's finding of evolution through natural selection?

More than a little curious,

Calladus said...

Hi Loren!

I think perhaps you have your question a little backwards.

Darwin's theory actually predicted a biological mechanism by which hereditary information was transferred down through the generations. He had no clue about DNA.

Although DNA was discovered in the mid to late 1800s, no one knew about it's role in heredity until the 1940's ~ '50's.

So, I would say that Darwin's theory, which predicted a hereditary mechanism, is actually demonstrated (in part) by the mere discovery of DNA, and our understanding of how it is used in heredity.

One of the strengths of a theory is determined by the success of the predictions that it makes.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Hi Loren!

Darwin didn't actually 'find' that evolution occurred through natural selection. Rather, he proposed that evolution occurred through natural selection, and marshaled a great deal of evidence from different lines of research that supported that and related claims. It is an interesting fact that in the latter half of the 19th century evolution and common descent were widely accepted, but Darwin's proposed mechanism (natural selection) enjoyed only a lukewarm response. For example, Thomas Huxley, who was known as 'Darwin's bulldog' for his vigorous public defense of evolution, was skeptical that natural selection was that important. The generation that followed Darwin was no different. A variety of other schemes were put forward, including those of early geneticists who felt that perhaps mutations were the single most important factor.

Eventually, the evidence that showed that natural selection was the main mechanism was in fact provided by geneticists and their allies, population biologists. There are actually multiple lines of new evidence that came together for the first time in the 1930's, which is why the theories taught today in biology are sometimes referred to as 'Neo-Darwinism' or the 'modern synthesis', though even those terms are getting out of date.

The major names associated with the modern synthesis, interestingly enough, are a hodgepodge of belief and non-belief where religion are concerned. The ornithologist Ernst Mayr and the paleontologist G.G. Simpson were agnostics at best, but the mathematician Ronald Fisher was a devout Anglican, the population biologist Sewall Wright was a Unitarian who developed a philosophical system patterned on the thought of Leibniz and the geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky was a committed Russian Orthodox who once famously described himself as 'an evolutionist and a creationist.'

Since the architects of the modern synthesis were not of one mind where religion is concerned, it seems fair to say that there is nothing in the modern theory that absolutely precludes belief in God. I'd be happy to discuss this with you in any venue you choose, BTW, as I live in the Fresno-Clovis area myself. Just for the record, I am a Methodist but am also an enthusiastic Darwinian and you may recall that I dropped in and visited New Cov when they had an ID-friendly presentation. I'm glad to see that Pastor Jan was serious when he said he wanted to sponsor serious treatment of apologetics in the Fresno area. He's an impressive individual. You can see my blog Monkey Trials for more info about yours truly. Drop me a line sometime!