Because of the amount of ink spilled in the last couple of days, and the fact that I have posted many posts already on the subject, I have decided for one big omnipost covering several facets of Darwin's birthday.
Several editorials have used Darwin's birthday to renew the discussion about the proper relationship between religion and science. Against the memes promoted by the likes of Stephen J. Gould (read: non-overlapping magesteria), science and religion should dialogue and provide a guiding focus for one another. Science is not an enemy of religion. And despite the fact that Darwin, after his studies, rejected his Anglican biblical literalism, he had the humility to recognize that his theory of evolution did not make claims about the existence (or lack thereof) of a transcendent power.
In this light, several religious institutions have lauded the work and findings of Darwin. The Church of England has created a website to honor Darwin and his work (webpage here). The Vatican, in like mind, today is giving Darwin birthday props (h/t RNS Blog). Different religious insitutions are celebrating Darwins birth (see my earlier post on Evolution Sunday), while others, of course, are not (h/t RNS Blog).
Despite this relatively newfound religious embracement of Darwin's ideas, the American public still finds these ideas controversial. A new Gallup poll suggests that only 39% of Americans believe in evolution (25% do not believe, 36% no opinion), a percentage correlated with education, church attendance, and age (h/t RNS Blog). Yet as one editorial points out, Darwin's ideas were very controversial even in his own time (i.e., the great debate between Huxley and Wilberforce).
Our scientific community has greatly advanced the theory of evolution. It goes without saying that this theory is a cornerstone of our scientific understanding of the world and our place in it. And if Darwin was alive today, he would be pleased with the role and the progress of his work.
Finally, several prominent progressive blogs send their birthday remembrances: DailyKos and FireDogLake.