As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Inevitable Lincoln/Darwin/D-Day Post

Lots of hubbub today over birthdays. As fate would have it, 164 years after Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born on the same day, I came into being. If you simply MUST make me pair all three together, well, fine, I will, but I take no pleasure in it.

We do a disservice to these great men by following the accident of history and drawing too many parallels, but certainly neither was afraid of the occasional truth in a world all too burdened with falsehood. Darwin had the courage to follow facts instead of dogma and set a path for evolutionary biology that is as wondrous as it is grounded in science. As he said in the final line of On The Origin Of Species:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

As for Lincoln, I've often praised him for his political foresight, his acknowledgment of the realities of a house divided, and his work to save the union. Here's President Barack Obama today.

Obama pointed out that the men building the Capitol wondered whether each workday would be their last, fearing that the metal they were using in the construction would be requisitioned for use in the war. "When President Lincoln was finally told of all the metal being used here, his response was short and clear: 'That is as it should be,' " he said. "The American people needed to be reminded, he believed, that even in a time of war, the work would go on; that even when the nation itself was in doubt, its future was being secured; and that on that distant day, when the guns fell silent, a national Capitol would stand, with a statue of freedom at its peak, as a symbol of unity in a land still mending its divisions."

Which is nice and all, but I prefer Cooper Union, cutting through the rhetoric of his opposition and speaking the truth of how they seek only to have everyone be placed "avowedly with them," and how "They will continue to accuse us of doing, until we cease saying." It is truth that binds these two.

And truth that imperils them. The Gallup poll showing that only 39% of Americans believe in evolution is very dangerous, not just for our future as a competitive nation educationally and economically, but dangerous to the idea of rationality, which those who believe in must protect with an eternal vigilance. It is ignorance - ignorance of history, ignorance of facts, ignorance of reality, whether by design or by accident - that has brought us to the crisis where we now find ourselves, both domestically and abroad. There will always be those who counter thought with the need to believe - and hey, if anyone wants to pick up a quick 6 trillion dollars, talk to the Islamic creationist in that article who's offering that sum for anyone who shows him a fossil proving evolution - and there must always be those who lighten those dark corners with reason before it envelops. In many ways, that's a core purpose of the progressive blogosphere - aha, I knew I could find the connection somewhere!!!

I say all that to say this - the Library of Congress has released several never-before-scanned photos of Lincoln onto their Flickr page, including this slick one showing Lincoln with the Johnny Cash look:

In solidarity, I am not wearing my hair the same way today. But I appreciate Abe and Charles' contributions ... especially because otherwise, the next most-famous celeb on this birthdate is Lorne Greene.

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