Happy Darwin Day!

Today we celebrate Charles Darwin's day, who was born on the 12th of February, 1809. Happy birthday, Chuck!

It is difficult to adequately recognize his genius and tremendous contribution to our understanding of the world and our origin as human beings, even for those of us for whom he is an intellectual hero. He was obviously not the first person to think that we have an origin other than divine, but he was the first to provide not only an alternative explanation to the theological tradition: he proposed a set of naturalistic mechanisms that elegantly and coherently explain the diversity of life across the world in a way that no other account has ever been able to even begin to approximate. This account, incidentally, has also been directly responsible for the emergence of an innumerable amount of scientific research and discovery, as well as for the proliferation and diversification of newly emerging scientific disciplines, all of which produce measurable benefits of great magnitude.

It was Darwin who secured our place in the world as truly being a part of the world and not merely a stage, the existence of which is only justified as a means to some other end. It was Darwin who connected our existence, at a profoundly metaphysical level, to that of all other living organisms. If we living organisms are all connected in any important way, it is because we are all part of the same family, because we share a common biological ancestry, because our difference with other living organisms is not so much a difference in kind as it is a difference in degree. It is because of Darwin that I am justified in loving my ape and monkey cousins and seeing them as not so different from us as others might.

Thank you, Charlie, and happy birthday!
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