The Darwinian Revolution Under Modern Times (c. 2012)

When I feel scholarly.

May 9, 2012

The Darwinian Revolution Under Modern Times

The theory of Adam and Eve never quite resonated with me. My mother made it her will to convince me throughout my life that there is an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-creating omniscient God. I enjoyed the thought of having an all-powerful being looking down on me and protecting me, but I grew to realize that scientific fact overrules religious belief. It was nonsensical to think that the world’s population sprouted from one man and one woman. Charles Darwin took paleontological facts and related them to the beginning of humanity and hit a homerun.

Charles Darwin was a believer in Christianity. He studied his belief along with science while he attended Cambridge University. But he never retained his knowledge into a single-minded belief. He explored. While at the Galapagos Islands, Darwin observed the birds there migrate because of a change in conditions and colonized in a new territory, bringing forth the thought of evolution within adaptation.

Even though Darwin is considered the father of the theory of evolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, a naturalist in the Far East, extended the theory and discovered the “survival of the fittest”. Darwin merely opened the door for Wallace, once saying, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”. In the book, The Scientists, Wallace describes his “The breakthrough came in February 1858, when Wallace was ill with a fever in Ternate, in the Moluccas. Lying in bed all day, thinking about the species problem, he recalled the work of Thomas Malthus. Wondering why some individuals in each generation survive, while most die, he realized that this was not due to chance; those that lived and reproduced in their turn must be the ones best suited to the environmental conditions prevailing at the time. The ones that were most resistant to disease survived any illness they experienced; the fastest escaped predators; and so on. ‘Then it suddenly flashed upon me that this self-acting process would necessarily improve the race, because in every generation the inferior would inevitably be killed off and the superior would remain—that is, the fittest would survive” (The Scientists).

Evolution is simple. No generation is identical to the one before it. “Given the observed fact of heritability with small variations, natural selection explained how, given enough time, evolution could produce an antelope adapted to a grazing lifestyle, the grass itself, a lion adapted to eat antelope, a bird that depends on a certain kind of seed for its food, or any other species on Earth today, including humankind, from a single, simple common ancestor” (The Scientists).

The acceptance of Evolution in public schools was tested in 1925. A young teacher, John Scopes, taught his Biology class the Theory of Evolution instead of Creation and was found guilty and fined for teaching the “non-Biblical account of life”. Even with the concept of separation of church and state, which was written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 by referencing the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, but not enacted until 1947 by the US Supreme Court, the acceptance of Evolution being taught in public schools is still questioned. Darwin’s legacy has a direct stance on how society dictates public policy. For example, a well-known and well-loved man can assert that fish once had wings, and people would believe him with no fact other than that that man truly believes that fish could once fly. But when a man with scientific facts says that as human beings we evolved, society looks at him in detest. Society dictates the mandate of education, politics, and even societal law. As a loss of our own ignorance, humanity as a whole will probably continue to remain ignorant and cease to explore the unknown or what is sought to be impossible, leaving our race inadaptable to change.

Whether the beginning started with two fully equipped humans, or millions of organisms that evolved, Charles Darwin set out the playing field for future scientists and evolutionists. He allowed people to see other ways of what could’ve happened in the beginning. He outlined the past of all humanity and outlined it in a beautiful and simplistic way, beginning with the migration of birds. Darwin once said, “there is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Sources:

“The Scientists”. Gribbin, John. Random House Inc. 2002.

“Charles Darwin Quotes”. Good Reads Inc. 2012.

“The Complete Works of Charles Darwin”. Darwin Literature. 2008.

“Why Everyone Should Learn the Theory of Evolution”. Scientific American. 2008.

“Darwin’s Theory of Evolution- A Theory in Crisis”. All About Science. 2002-2012.

“Evolution: Theory and Science”. UCMP Exhibit Halls. The Evolution Wing.

-C

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