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An evaluation of the theory of evolution

Growing up a shy and unassuming member of a wealthy British family, he appeared, at least to his father, to be idle and directionless. But even as a child, Darwin expressed an interest in nature. Later, while studying botany at Cambridge University, he was offered a chance to work as an unpaid naturalist on the HMS Beagle, a naval vessel embarking on an exploratory voyage around the world.

  • In the course of nearly five years at sea — during which time the Beagle surveyed the coast of South America and stopped in such places as Australia and, most famously, the Galapagos Islands — Darwin took advantage of countless opportunities to observe plant and animal life and to collect both living and fossilized specimens for later study;
  • If development has so important a work in Aristotle's physics, it is not less important in his metaphysics;
  • In the course of nearly five years at sea — during which time the Beagle surveyed the coast of South America and stopped in such places as Australia and, most famously, the Galapagos Islands — Darwin took advantage of countless opportunities to observe plant and animal life and to collect both living and fossilized specimens for later study;
  • Discussion of Lamarck's ideas will provide a context in which a clear distinction can be made between these ideas and those of Darwin;
  • The Greeks had, it is true, no term exactly equivalent to " evolution"; but when Thales asserts that all things originated from water; when Anaximenes calls air the principle of all things, regarding the subsequent process as a thinning or thickening, they must have considered individual beings and the phenomenal world as, a result of evolution, even if they did not carry the process out in detail.

In the course of nearly five years at sea — during which time the Beagle surveyed the coast of South America and stopped in such places as Australia and, most famously, the Galapagos Islands — Darwin took advantage of countless opportunities to observe plant and animal life and to collect both living and fossilized specimens for later study.

After the Beagle returned to England in October 1836, Darwin began reflecting on his observations and experiences, and over the next two years developed the basic outline of his groundbreaking theory of evolution through natural selection.

But beyond sharing his ideas with a close circle of scientist friends, Darwin told no one of his views on the origin and development of life. Indeed, he did not publish his now-famous volume, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, until 1859, more than 20 years after he had first formulated his theory.

On the Origin of Species may never have been written, let alone published, if it had not been for Alfred Russel Wallace, another British naturalist who independently proposed a strikingly similar theory in 1858.

  1. Its highest aim, that, of becoming an object to itself, is only attained in the highest and last reflection-in man, or in what we call reason, through which for the first time nature returns perfectly upon itself.
  2. As nature develops according to fixed laws and natural conditions, so does history, which is only a continuation of the process of nature.
  3. They may also often believe that evolution is goal-directed.
  4. Darwinian thinking also appeared to contradict the notion, central to Christianity and many other faiths, that man had a special, God-given place in the natural order.
  5. Some evolutionistic ideas are found in Krause and Schleiermacher; but Hegel, with his absolute idealism, is a more notable representative of them. The differentia of mankind, whom Darwin, led by the force of analogy, deduces from a species of apes, consists in intellect and moral qualities, but comes into existence only by degrees.

This being the age of Victorian gentlemen, it was agreed that the two scientists would jointly publish their writings on the subject. The following year, Darwin published On the Origin of Species, a lengthy, fleshed-out treatment of his ideas on evolutionary theory.

The book was an immediate bestseller and quickly set off a firestorm of controversy. Yet the concept of species adaptation was not so radical at the time.

The History of Evolutionary Theory

Scientists had been debating whether animals evolved decades before Darwin put forth his theory. All existing creatures, he argued, descended from a small number of original or progenitor species. Darwin compared the history of life to a great tree, its trunk representing these few common ancestors and an extensive system of branches and twigs symbolizing the great variety of life that has evolved from them. This evolution, Darwin wrote, is due to two factors. The first factor, Darwin argued, is that each individual animal is marked by subtle differences that distinguish it from its parents.

The second factor, Darwin argued, is that although variations are random, some of them convey distinct advantages — superior camouflage, a heartier constitution or greater speed, for example — that better equip a creature to survive in its environment.

  1. In like manner integration is evident in the development of language, of art, and of science, especially philosophy.
  2. Discussion of Lamarck's ideas will provide a context in which a clear distinction can be made between these ideas and those of Darwin.
  3. How do scientists explain how evolution occurs?
  4. Once students have cleared up any misunderstandings or confusion, move on to a discussion of the assigned questions. Medieval Views The idea of evolution was not particularly dominant in patristic and scholastic theology and philosophy, both on account of the dualism which runs through them as an echo of Plato and Aristotle, and on account of the generally accepted Christian theory of creation.
  5. The Godhead has life in itself, and develops into the universe, differentiating primarily into two kinds of elements the finer or active, and the coarser or passive. It made its appearance early in Greek philosophy , and maintained its position more or less, with the most diverse modifications, and frequently confused with the idea of emanation, until the close of ancient thought.

A greater chance of survival allows for more opportunity to breed and pass on advantageous traits to a greater number of offspring. Over time, an advantage spreads throughout a species; in turn, the species is more likely to endure and reproduce.

Thus, over the course of many generations, subtle changes occur and accumulate, eventually morphing into bigger changes and, possibly, even a new species.

Yet evolution continued to be vigorously rejected by British and American churches because, religious leaders argued, the theory directly contradicted many of the core teachings of the Christian faith.

Darwinian thinking also appeared to contradict the notion, central to Christianity and many other faiths, that man had a special, God-given place in the natural order.

Public’s Views on Human Evolution

Instead, proponents of evolution pointed to signs in human anatomy — remnants of a tailbone, for instance — showing common ancestry with other mammals. There seems to be too much misery in the world.

  • As Heraclitus had taught eternal becoming, so Hegel, who avowedly accepted all the propositions of the Ephesian philosopher in his logic, taught eternal proceeding;
  • He carries the idea through the whole range of philosophy in his great System of Synthetic Philosophy and undertakes to show that development is the highest law of all nature, not merely of the organic;
  • Spencer's View The most careful and thorough development of the whole system took place in England;
  • How do you think religion influences a scientist's view?

Regardless, it was around this time that the British scientific establishment gained the upper hand in the debate over evolution. And while the public disagreement between ecclesiastical and scientific authorities did not end in the 1860s, religious thinkers became more wary of directly challenging evolution on scientific grounds. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, churches instead focused much of their energy on resisting the idea that man had evolved from lower animal orders and hence had no special place in creation or, for that matter, a soul.

Indeed, while some churches, including the Catholic Church, eventually accepted evolution as a God-directed mechanism of biological development, none questioned the role of God as the sole creator of man. By the time of his death, in 1882, Darwin was considered the greatest scientist of his age. Moreover, the very church his theory had challenged accorded him a full state funeral and burial in Westminster Abbey, near the grave of Sir Isaac Newton.

Indeed, his interment in the abbey was seen by some contemporaries as symbolic of an uneasy truce between science and religion in Britain. Julia Margaret Cameron Report Materials.