For whatever reason, the people at richarddawkins.net put me on their mailing list and sent me an invitation some time back to write a birthday greeting for Richard Dawkins, who celebrates his 66th birthday today. Go to richarddawkins.net/happybirthdayRD, and you’ll find birthday greetings from Dan Dennett, Sam Harris, P.Z. Myers, Michael Shermer, etc. But my birthday greeting is nowhere to be found. Here’s the panegyric I sent in a few weeks back (yes, I’ve posted it at UD before; note that I cribbed from Harry Jaffa, Daniel Dennett, and Barbara Kingsolver). I figure just in case the ID thing doesn’t work out, I’ll have a backup . . . .
There are rare times and places, in the illustrious history of science, when outbursts of genius supply human civilization with the supreme wonders of human greatness. It is the contemplation of these that raises the mass of humanity to levels not unworthy of what, in less enlightened ages, we would have regarded as the divine image and which we now, rightly, regard as the pinnacle of evolutionary development. Such moments of supreme scientific achievement are to be found in the works of Archimedes, Copernicus, Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein. However, never beforeÃ¢â‚¬â€œor sinceÃ¢â‚¬â€œhas scientific genius burst in such profusion on the human scene as in the 19th century when Charles Darwin propounded his theory of evolution and taught the creatures of evolution to understand that they are products of evolution. If an award were to be given for the single best idea anyone ever had, it would go to Darwin, ahead of everyone else. In a single stroke, the idea of evolution by natural selection unifies the realm of life, meaning, and purpose with the realm of space and time, cause and effect, mechanism and physical law. Natural selection is the greatest, simplest, most elegant logical construct ever to dawn across our curiosity about the workings of natural life. It is inarguable, and it explains everything. Every human good that we enjoy today is, directly or indirectly, a legacy from what Charles Darwin wrought and what Richard Dawkins has preserved. –WmAD
And if you believe this, there’s some real estate I’d like to sell you.