Members of Parliament are being urged to give their support to an Early Day Motion tabled in the House of Commons to make Charles Darwin’s birthday – 12th February – an annual public holiday.
The motion, tabled by Ashok Kumar MP, which has already received the support of ten other MPs, coincides with the bicentenary of the birth of Darwin, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.
A wide range of events to mark the year are already underway - including a festival in Cambridge where speakers will include scientists, philosophers and theologians; Templeton Foundation research by the the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and Theos in partnership with a number of independent research organisations; and meetings sponsored by the British Humanist Association.
The EDM reads: ‘That this House notes the extraordinary achievements of Charles Darwin; notes that 2009 marks both the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species; welcomes proposals for the creation of a Darwin Day in recognition of the ground-breaking work of the British scientist responsible for the theory of evolution by natural selection; and calls for Darwin's birthday, 12 February, to be designated a public holiday in honour of one of the fathers of modern science and one of Britain's greatest, if not the greatest, scientific minds.’
In 2003, over 40 distinguished academics, philosophers, scientists and writers called for a new public holiday. Members of the public are being urged to write to their own MP to request their support for the motion.