by Mark Silva
Happy birthday, Abe Lincoln.
Happy birthday, Charles Darwin.
Today is not only the 200th anniversary of the birth of the American president who saved the union, but also the 200th anniversary of the birth of the British naturalist who established evolution as the dominant scientific explanation of life on the planet.
So President Barack Obama is traveling to Springfield, Ill., today, for a celebration of Lincoln. But who's going to the Galapagos Islands?
Sarah Palin, "daughter of a science teacher,'' might consider making that journey, as part of a necessary reconstruction of the popular perception created in the presidential campaign that perhaps the Republican governor of Alaska believes that dinosaurs and her great-great-great-grandparents trod the earth at the same time.
Now, Palin already has attempted to refute the myths about her: Did she only want to teach creationism in school and not evolution? "No,'' she told FOX News last year. "In fact, growing up in a school teacher's house with a science teacher as a dad, you know, I have great respect for science being taught in our science classes and evolution to be taught in our science classes.''
She had, however, told the Anchorage Daily News that schools should not fear teaching creationism alongside evolution: "Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information.... Healthy debate is so important and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both. And you know, I say this too as a daughter of a science teacher."
The full rehabilitation of Palin's image on the question of evolution shouldn't take nearly as long as Darwin's five-year journey aboard HMS Beagle.
But 2012 might be a useful goal.
Not only is today Darwin's birthday, but this year will mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. He was 51 at its publication. He also lived somewhat longer than Lincoln - Darwin died on April 19, 1982, the photo here taken shortly before he passed away.