Tuesday, November 24, 2009

English Heroes, R.......Evolutionary England

On this day the oddly titled  "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" was published, (A later edition was simply titled "The Origin of Species") Iit was a groundbreaking scientific work by English naturalist Charles Darwin.
Darwin's theory argued that organisms gradually evolve through a process he called "natural selection." In natural selection, organisms with genetic variations that suit their environment tend to propagate more descendants than organisms of the same species that lack the variation, thus influencing the overall genetic makeup of the species.

Despite the best efforts of religionists around the world, Darwin's methodology continues to be taught as an accurate guide to the evolutionary development of life on Earth. "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" sold out on its first printing yet was condemned by orthodox Christians as heresy.
Yet to me Darwin was one of the greatest scientific minds in human history, he did for biology what Albert Einstein did for physics and the Bank of England honour him on the £10 note.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland £10 note with Charles Darwin upon it.

Down House where Darwin lived, studied and finally published "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" is quite close to where I live, it's near Biggin Hill airdrome. And the country walks that Darwin took are all part of an English Heritage site and worth the time to wander through, particularly in the spring and summer.
Yet Darwin almost didn't publish his work, he'd had it mostly written up for 21 years before it finally got to a publisher and into print. The delays are attributed to the controversy Darwin knew he would stir up and yet he continued to work upon it, refining it to the point where criticism would be difficult from the scientific community. For when writing his book, Darwin carefully laid out the arguments against his theory. Rather than setting up a straw man he could easily knock down, he stated the opposing view with care. He then answered the arguments not with sarcasm, but with evidence. Darwin had long made a habit of paying attention to inconvenient facts, and this helped him anticipate his critics.

A great man and a great English hero.

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.
Charles Darwin
On the Origin of Species

By the time of Darwin's death in 1882, his theory of evolution was generally accepted. In honour of his scientific work, he was buried in Westminster Abbey beside kings, queens, and other illustrious figures from English history. Subsequent developments in genetics and molecular biology have led to modifications in accepted evolutionary theory, but Darwin's ideas remain central to the field.

3 annotations:

scunnert said...

They don't make 'em like that anymore.

James Higham said...

Didn't I write a caustic reply to the false-construct Darwin yesterday? No, that's right. I valued your friendship more.

John M Ward said...

The trick here is not to be confused between the how and the why. Why does the universe even exist, let alone in this precise form? Darwin wouldn't have had a billionth of a percent of a clue about that.

Scinece only tries (imperfectly) to explain what already exists: it creates nothing whatsoever, though with its use creative minds can devise new things.