During the early 90s I remember getting some Christian fundamentalist junk mail with the tag… “Don’t Let Darwin Make a Monkey Out Of You!”
As silly and harmful as any kind of fundamentalism can be, these people did have a point. Science has become the new religion, and few realize how the unavoidably biased interpretation of experimental results can shape our worldview.
Charles Robert Darwin (1809-82) was an English naturalist whose The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection of 1859 proposed a view of evolution in which “natural selection” determines which species survive and which perish.
In opposition to Larmarck, Darwin believed that evolutionary changes were the result of mutations.¹ New species that happened to survive in physical environments (which also changed) replaced those species that did not.
For many followers of Darwin there is no master or divine plan guiding evolution. In 1871 he wrote The Descent of Man which traced, according to the theory, mankind back to the anthropoids. The clarity of his exposition and the force of his ideas have influenced practically every aspect of modern society.
The Welsh naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, independently conceived the idea of “survival of the fittest” around the same time as Darwin. Recent challenges to this view are still deemed…
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