Epic Fail over Darwin Day Proclamation February 23, 2009

Epic Fail over Darwin Day Proclamation

Kudos to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. On February 12th, he issued a proclamation declaring it to be Charles Darwin Day in the state!

How cool is that?!


Check out the document itself (PDF).

Do you see it?

At the very bottom of the announcement — the announcement that extols Darwin’s incredible accomplishments and explains that his works have been challenging conventional views and encouraging critical thinking — is an inscription that reads:

God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


Ironic, no?

David Niose, the president of the American Humanist Association, said this about the juxtaposition:

“It’s fairly rare that we talk about humanist groups having political victories, but we had one last week, after the American Humanist Association and the three local chapters asked Deval Patrick to declare Feb. 12 to be Darwin Day. He did it, and he gave us a beautiful declaration, leatherbound, with his signature, and all the fancy language — chalk one up for the humanist groups. Darwin, of course, is kind of a symbol of the culture wars, because there is a lot of anti-Darwinism — so we consider this a victory. But the kicker is it says ‘God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,’ and we thought it was pretty comical that secular humanist groups would be given a Darwin Day proclamation with such a statement — a friendly reminder of how far we have to go. We’re not enraged — that language is something we’re just used to — but I think it’s just something to chuckle over.

It’s the right way to take it. The statement about God seems to just be part of the letterhead and not something added to just this proclamation.

Funny, though…

(via Articles of Faith)

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  • Solomon

    I’m sure it is just part of the letterhead. I went to college in Massachusetts; and, our Commencement ceremonies were always opened and closed by the Sheriff of Hampshire County. The last thing he would always say in closing the ceremony was “God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

  • Well, isn’t the argument we’re always trying to make that evolution and atheism are separate, and that belief in God and in evolution can coexist? They were trying to honour Darwin, not separation of church and state, so while the motto might not be wholly constitutional, it’s not that ironic.

  • mikespeir

    I was going to make the point Milena did, but now I won’t bother.

  • nontheist

    Ironic? No!

    Well said Milena! We must stop trying to make evolution exclusively Atheist. Bad enough the main argument most fundies use is how Atheists believe in evolution, thereby warning Christians not to support it

  • Predictable? Yes. Annoying? Sure, if your easily annoyed. Epic Fail? Not really.

  • Evolution and religion are not mutually exclusive unless you try to force one into a position where it seems to say something that it doesn’t. Fundies do that and I don’t want to fall into that trap. If theists are willing to shift their beliefs to accommodate the evidence then I say we should support them in doing so rather than force then to choose between science and their god.

  • As a citizen of the Commonwealth in question AND as an atheist…

    I can make my peace with this. I am more than willing to look beyond the requisite God posturing if it means that the government is enlightened enough to recognize Mr. Darwin’s genius!

    Otter River, Massachusetts

  • «bønez_brigade»

    In agreement I am with the previous posters about how evolution d.n.e. atheism. However, this proclamation _was_ ironic for the very thing Hemant stated.

    “At the very bottom of the announcement — the announcement that extols Darwin’s incredible accomplishments and explains that his works have been challenging conventional views and encouraging critical thinking — is an inscription that reads:
    ‘God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.'”

    (he used italics for a reason)

    Ironic? Yes!
    Unconstitutional? Of course.
    Offensive? Not so much.
    Funny? Yep.
    Making headway for the advancement of science? Indeed.

  • «bønez_brigade»

    Upon review of my previous comment, the “d.n.e.” will likely be read as the more familiar “does not exist”, rather than the less familiar “does not equal”, thus confounding what I was conveying. Henceforth, that particular usage of “d.n.e.” shall be taken to mean “=/=”; and I shall more diligent in correctly stating such things in the future.
    It is done.

  • stephanie

    What Milena said.

    Please don’t confuse evolution with religion or lack thereof. I’ve been fighting people over that mental confusion for years.