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Is This Common Knowledge Or Does It Interest Anyone?


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Here's a brief quote written in about 1859:

 

the future question for naturalists will be how, for instance, cattle got their horns,

and not for what they are used. It is rather a singular instance of the manner in which

similar views arise at about the same time, that Goethe in Germany, Dr Darwin in England,

and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (as we shall immediately see) in France; came to the same

conclusion on the origin of species, in the years 1794-5.

 

FROM: Origin of the Species, Preface

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Darwin did not invent evolution. Most of it was already understood and talked about, but I think what Darwin contributed to it all was the process of how evolution worked, the whole "survival of the fittest", or what is also called "natural selection". Before that, there were many ideas to how species evolved, but Darwin saw the pattern that individuals would have better survival rate when the mutations tipped the balance (statistically) for them to survive. A slightly longer neck to reach food, or longer legs to walk across a river etc.

 

Lamarck, who lived before Darwin, suggested a natural system for evolution, but it wasn't completely accurate. He suggested that an animal would over time get a longer neck to reach food better because it was stretching for it, which isn't quite the same. Evolution is not guided towards what is best or what "things want", it works the other way around, what is best is selected naturally because it has a better survival potential (a statistical advantage). Things mutate, and the mutations that tips the scale, will get stronger and eventually overpower the weaker.

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The first known and recorded concept that life evolved came from the Ancient Greeks, about 400 BCE. Specifically in writings of Empedocles (ca: 400 - 490 BCE). What Charles Darwin did was provide the first coherent and testable mechanism to explain the observed fact that life evolved and evolves. Darwin only provided a part of the mechanisms, as he had no clue about DNA, genes or other mechanisms that were discovered later. Darwin provided the first foundation upon which modern evolutionary biology built upon.

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Thanks for the clarification. What puzzles me is that fundies are so obsessed with Darwinism. Why zero in on Darwin if he did not introduce the evolution theory that they fundies hate so much? Why not focus on Lamark, for example?

 

The reason I am reading Darwin is to get some sense as to what the fundamentalists are complaining about. If I am any judge of character, I would say Darwin sounds about as humble as a person can be while the fundies puff up their chests and condemn the man for honest labour and sharing of information. Maybe this doesn't belong in the science section...I just checked and the title of this section is science and religion so I guess maybe it fits.

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I think fundies zero in on Darwin just because he is so well-known. There was also a landmark case in the US regarding the teaching of evolution in schools, State vs. John Scopes (otherwise known as the Scopes Monkey Trial). Teaching evolution was illegal in Tennessee at the time. The interesting thing (IMO) is that the science teacher was fined $100 because he asked them to find him guilty, but the TN supreme court reversed it on a technicality and dismissed the case. However, it publicized the whole debate in the U.S.

 

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/f...opes/evolut.htm

 

I think what is happening today is similar. The older generation is feeling threatened by the younger generation, and so the fundamentalists are finding an outlet.

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Thanks for the clarification. What puzzles me is that fundies are so obsessed with Darwinism. Why zero in on Darwin if he did not introduce the evolution theory that they fundies hate so much? Why not focus on Lamark, for example?

Of the same reason why Bell is recognized as the "inventor" of the telephone, while there were others with very similar inventions at the same time. But usually only one gets the focus of attention. But also that Darwin kind of gave some of the most important clues to the whole theory. When Evolution is discussed Darwin is mostly in the center of it. There are no scientific theories that can can exclusively be given to one person, every theory is built upon knowledge, understanding and discovery from other scientists. "On the shoulders of the titans." Science evolves, just as religion does, everything is built piece by piece, but usually one or a few people get the glory (not saying that Darwin didn't deserve it, because he truly did).

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The fundies zero in on Darwin because we who take science and evolution seriously hold him in such high esteem.

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Thanks for your explanations. I'm reading his Origin of the Species--I plan to read the whole of it. I find it inspiring. So far in my life I have been unable to get my head around any science literature; it's too technical and it's usually about stuff I can't see and therefore can barely visualize. But Darwin looked at animals, birds, plants, insects, etc. from the outside. I guess he also dissected and observed and measured parts that were visible to the naked eye. As a farm girl I've been doing that all my life--observing animals from the outside, and butchering animals for the annual supply of meat. I also have minimal experience in animal breeding. Maybe this will give me entry to the world of science, maybe not.

 

In my study of fundamentalism I have come across quite a number of accounts of the Scopes Monkey Trial. And I've read all this hateful stuff about Darwin. So I decided to go look see what the man said for himself and I am favourably impressed. Like I said, I find his book inspiring. It's online.

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Who wants to believe in creation after reading this quote from the end (just before the summary) Chapter Five:

 

For myself, I venture confidently to look back thousands on

thousands of generations, and I see an animal striped like a zebra, but perhaps otherwise

very differently constructed, the common parent of our domestic horse, whether or not it

be descended from one or more wild stocks, of the ass, the hemionus, quagga, and zebra.

He who believes that each equine species was independently created, will, I presume,

assert that each species has been created with a tendency to vary, both under nature and

under domestication, in this particular manner, so as often to become striped like other

species of the genus; and that each has been created with a strong tendency, when crossed

with species inhabiting distant quarters of the world, to produce hybrids resembling in their

stripes, not their own parents, but other species of the genus. To admit this view is, as it

seems to me, to reject a real for an unreal, or at least for an unknown, cause. It makes the

works of God a mere mockery and deception; I would almost as soon believe with the old

and ignorant cosmogonists, that fossil shells had never lived, but had been created in stone

so as to mock the shells now living on the sea-shore.

 

In other words, if I correctly understand what he is saying, the endles diversity of specimens in the natural world is a spontaneous development of natural selection. Next to it, the theory of individual creations of each separate species seems artificial and wooden or mechanical. It loses the very wonder and spontaneous joy that nature inspires in us.

 

The wonders of nature (according to Christians) supposedly tell us something about the wonders of god. But god limits the wonders of nature!

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Most fundies can't even seem to get the name of Darwin's book right. I have seen them on more than one occasion in their ignorant rantings refer to Darwin's book as "The Origin of the Species", as if it focused on the evolution of humans rather than its actual title "The Origin of Species" which reflects its actual focus on all species of life. This show just how much research fundies generally do on the subject of evolution - NONE. They just parrot the bullshit that they've heard in church or from other apologists. It would take all of maybe a couple of minutes or so for the average fundie apologist to Google "Charles Darwin" or something similar and verify that they had the title of Darwin's book correct before they bashed it with typical ignorance with no intentions of actually reading what they are so joyfully bashing for Jesus.

 

I'll admit that I have never read Brother Darwin's glorious book (although I have a cheap paperback copy of it gathering dust on the bookshelf), but if I was going to attack its contents or the ideas expressed in it, I would certainly take the time to read it first so I could speak against those ideas intelligently!

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