Charles Darwin

Remembering Charles Darwin on his 200th birthday on feb 12.

Charles Darwin , a British naturalist  proposed the theory of  evolution by natural selection explaining the origins of man . A revolutionary scientist whose theory shook the foundations of religion and remains a pillar of modern science .

Charles darwin

Charles darwin

What I found interesting these days about Darwin is, the many interpretations that stem from his theory .So many people   like some  biologists , creationists ,evolutionists ,eugenicists ,theologians ……they all use this theory , their own (mis)interpretation of it, to support their convictions , many of them appalling  .

Oh i will give u an example there was one eminent critic who said “America’s moral decline is Darwin’s fault “,bit far fetched .

Theory of Natural selection :

Darwin’s theory of evolutionary selection holds that variation within species occurs randomly and that the survival or extinction of each organism is determined by that organism’s ability to adapt to its environment.

“The survival of fittest” , perhaps one of the most quoted and misquoted words.

to quote Darwin:    “Can it, then, be thought improbable, seeing that variations useful to man have undoubtedly occurred, that other variations useful in some way to each being in the great and complex battle of life, should sometimes occur in the course of thousands of generations? If such do occur, can we doubt (remembering that many more individuals are born than can possibly survive) that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind?

This preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection.”

Still i think there are gaps , first being the question of “origin of life ” and the gaps in evolution , existence of intermediate forms and the  stasis . These are the major points that are driving scientists to find an alternative explanation .

Those gaps are also being used as a reason to promote “creationism” , “the intelligent design” .What got me interested in this topic was the book “The God Delusion ” by Richard Dawkins , can refer to it for further explanation on it .He uses lots of examples to blast the intelligent design concept , but the gaps do remain  to be filled.

I have read a bit of 2 of his books – some of the excerpts –

from “The Descent of Man“:

-“It has often and confidently been asserted, that man’s origin can never be known: but ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

a very interesting observation from medical point of view –  “Man is liable to receive from the lower animals, and to communicate to them, certain diseases as hydrophobia, variola, the glanders, &c.; and this fact proves the close similarity of their tissues and blood, both in minute structure and composition, far more plainly than does their comparison under the best microscope, or by the aid of the best chemical analysis.”- reasons why we use them for experiments .

Darwin uses the examples various diseases and similar developmental anomalies occurring in man and lower primates to explain the descent of man from them .

I wish i had time to read a lot more ….

Darwin’s natural selection is a picture  suggestive of ” the tree of life” ,it explains evolution based on vertical transfer of genes, but according to latest research showing additional horizontal transfer  of genes a new “web of life “concept  has been proposed .

for further reading  –

THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES

Understanding evolution

complete works of Charles Darwin

Galapogos – has some cool pics

Whatever the controversies , Charles Darwin is undoubtedly one of the greatest thinkers of mankind .


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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    t. mahathi said,

    u have a point yes , but the reason why i was rude and irritated was that , this was exactly what i wanted to avoid .
    If u read my post u will find that i was lamenting about the other aspects of theory getting more publicity than the actual stuff and then u write this comment . look i am not running away from truth or whatever , but i want to focus the attention on the actual theory theory he proposed(Darwin avoided talking about theology , might be for this reason ) . the quotes u mentioned were just to give an example of the “other aspects ” of it .

  2. 2

    t. mahathi said,

    “read a bit of “good psychology”,you can understand how difficult it is to use animals for “understanding/improving human conditions”….”

    i think u got this point wrong , i am talking about animals being used for drug trials and in experiments to study various infectious diseases .if we hadn’t used them successfully we would never have such a good understanding of diseases and so may drugs at our disposal , oh we wouldn’t have such a good understanding of leprosy( which we can culture only in animal tissues as of now)- this i think is more relevant to our social context , sth u would appreciate .
    i am not aware of psychology having an impact on histopathological response of tissues to agents !

    Krishna u have a knack to pick up fights !! i don’t prefer these word fights though , discussion about why and the way u make a point is waste of time .
    there is a difference between addressing the “words” and addressing the point made .why do u choose to address the words always?


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