"I am almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable."
The birth of the Theory of Natural Selection, in a letter.
Eight years after returning from his globe-spanning voyage aboard the Beagle, Charles Darwin penned this letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker. Darwin had spent years analyzing the botanical and animal specimens he collected from the Galapagos. He had noted their variations, their geographical relationships, and his theory of how species arise was beginning to take shape. And he was nervous about telling the world.
It’s funny, Darwin had no idea that we’d be reading his mail, looking for important stuff. Makes me think twice about my Twitter account.
Under the category of “cool things penned by Darwin,” the above letter is perhaps second only to this, his first tree of life, accompanied by the hilariously appropriate words “I think”:
Their correspondence has been digitally archived by the University of Cambridge library, and it’s a time capsule to the moment when the most important principle in all of biology was hatched from the noggin of one British naturalist named Darwin. It’s hours of fun, give it a read.
Sigh. Why don’t people write letters any more?
Posts tagged charles darwin.
“But then arises the doubt, can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?”— Charles Darwin in Portable Atheist, ed. Christoper Hitchens (Da Capo: 2007) p. 96
Charles Darwin, to his credit (for lack of a better word), though the father of evolutionary biology, was also limited by the infancy of his theory of evolution by natural selection. C.S. Peirce stated the following and this can be considered a response to Darwin’s quote—which seems to be the root of Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism.
It seems incontestable, therefore, that the mind of man is strongly adapted to the comprehension of the world; at least, so far as this goes, that certain conceptions, highly important for such a comprehension, naturally arise in his mind; and, without such a tendency, the mind could never have had any development at all.
How are we to explain this adaptation? The great utility and indispensableness of the conceptions of time, space, and force, even to the lowest intelligence, are such as to suggest that they are the results of natural selection. Without something like geometrical, kinetical, and mechanical conceptions, no animal could seize his food or do anything which might be necessary for the preservation of the species…[A]s that animal would have an immense advantage in the struggle for life whose mechanical conceptions did not break down in a novel situation (such as development must bring about), there would be a constant selection in favor of more and more correct ideas of the matters.
Charles Sanders Peirce (1878. “The Order of Nature”, The Essential Peirce: Selected Philosophical Writings (1867-1893), p. 181)
Ultimately, this is precisely what I mean by apologists who undermine this or that; in this case, I think it’s the case that you are implying C.S. Lewis’ “unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought” and attempting to undermine the thoughts of non-Christians. Plantinga uses this rationale in an attempt to undermine naturalism, which is the basic assumption of science. He attempts to undermine naturalism because he prefers supernaturalism. Regardless, such rationale is wrong.
What is Natural Selection?
Natural Selection is one of the main concepts found within the theory of evolution. It was discovered by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace though Darwin championed the idea in his book “On the Origin of Species”.
Natural selection can be defined as the process by which random evolutionary changes are selected for by nature in a consistent, orderly, non-random way.
When coupled with descent with modification, Natural Selection can cause a population to evolve for fitness within a given environment over multiple generations.
Natural Selection is an observable fact. By carefully observing populations of living things with short life cycles you can actually watch it happen.
Want to learn more? Check out our notes for this video. Included are links to three examples of natural selection witnessed by researchers. There are many more as well.
He Helped Discover Evolution, And Then Became Extinct
Ask most folks who came up with the theory of evolution, and they’ll tell you it was Charles Darwin.
In fact, Alfred Russel Wallace, another British naturalist, was a co-discoverer of the theory — though Darwin has gotten most of the credit. Wallace died 100 years ago this day.
Appendix Evolved More Than 30 Times
The appendix may not be useless after all. The worm-shaped structure found near the junction of the small and large intestines evolved 32 times among mammals, according to a new study. The finding adds weight to the idea that the appendix helps protect our beneficial gut bacteria when a serious infection strikes.
It’s easy to think humans have stopped evolving, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Though modern medicine and civilization’s graces make the struggle to survive more subtle, evolution’s engine keeps churning. In the last few thousand years, in fact, a time when human evolution was once thought to have slowed, it may actually have sped up.
On Jan. 22, Rush D. Holt, a Democrat who represents central New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, introduced a resolution designating Feb. 12, 2013 — Charles Darwin’s 204th birthday — as Darwin Day, “recognizing the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.”
Is Chaitin proving Darwin with metabiology?
Algorithmic information theory (AIT) allows us to study the inherent structure of objects, and qualify some as ‘random’ without reference to a generating distribution. The theory originated when Ray Solomonoff (1960), Andrey Kolmogorov (1965), and Gregory Chaitin (1966) looked at probability, statistics, and information through the algorithmic lens. Now the theory has become a central part of theoretical computer science, and a tool with which we can approach other disciplines. Chaitin uses it to formalize biology.