On February 12, 1809, two figures of vast impact on today’s society, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, were born.

Lincoln and Darwin

These two historical figures, born on the same day, have had a tremendous impact in shaping the world as we know it today.

In abolishing slavery and preventing the dissolution of the United States in the Civil War, Lincoln removed one of the biggest blights against our country and then fought to preserve the union. Lincoln’s reward? A bullet. Our reward? We now have a President of the United States with an African father.

Darwin’s theory of natural selection has shaped biological thought at many levels. Because it challenges a literal interpretation of the story of Genesis, religious fundamentalists continue to fight against the teaching of evolution even today. However, biological science benefits our society today in countless ways.

Perhaps the lesson of Lincoln and Darwin, when considered together, is that huge shifts in social, political, scientific and religious thought come at a huge price to those who bring those thoughts to us. Our world is much better for their efforts. The occasion of their two hundredth birthday offers the opportunity to contemplate their contributions to society and the prices they and their followers have paid.

I encourage everyone in comments to offer their own reflections on the impact these two figures have had on your lives.

Jim White

Jim White

Follow me on Twitter @JimWhiteGNV