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Category: 05. 10/3 Evolution and Society (Page 1 of 2)

Darwinian Evolution

Charles Darwin’s book, “On the Origin of Species” in 1859, shared new thoughts on evolution with the world. The two main points from the book were that all life on earth is connected and that modifications of populations were sparked by natural selection. Darwinian Evolution became tied up with the saying “Survival of the Fittest.” Inherently natural selection is the idea that traits that are beneficial to an organism surviving and reproducing will be inherited by their offspring.

Darwinian Evolution captures the cycle of science developing from the past to the present. When Charles Darwin first developed his natural selection theory, he brought a mechanism to old philosophy. For example, ancient Greek philosophers wrote about ideas of the descent of man from animals. Charles Darwin took these ideas and observed how organisms developed. His thoughts and ideas provided a new truth to be understood. Over time scientists have been able to build upon Darwin’s theory. We now know more about genetics and how genes encode certain traits. Understanding how specific genes are passed down to offspring has been crucial to understanding mutations in organisms.

My point here is that Darwin made an inference on studying the pattern of evolution. As science developed, they were able to understand the mechanism more clearly to show how Genetics and DNA caused certain traits to be passed down.  Science is a series of building blocks. One person’s theory allows others to provide truths. Society can sometimes misunderstand these theories. Like we saw with the Eugenics movement, not all theories can have a positive impact in society. Darwinism opened up a pathway to expand society’s view on racial inequalities.  This also shows that while Darwin made a huge impact on understanding evolution, society can sometimes twist things around. In today’s world, we must understand the implications behind discoveries. It is important for science to grow and for people to gain new insights, but we must always be careful in how we understand discoveries.

Darwinian Evolution

 

Many scientists and historians alike believe that Charles Darwin has made the historically single largest impact on scientific study for centuries to follow. It is believed that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”, and it is not hard to see why that is the case. Darwin was born and educated at a time when special creation was the prevailing scientific view. Most everyone believed that God created the universe and every species that currently lives on Earth a mere few thousand years ago. His findings not only challenged the belief of creationism, but fossils that he discovered several meters below the surface directly contradicted the biblical Great Flood. Creationism could not explain why fossils were found of species that had never seen humans; why would God create a creature, only for it to die off forever? Observing how the Darwinian theory of evolution was perceived by people both then and now can provide us insight into the modern issues and divisions among our society. Continue reading

Darwin & The Power of Observation

Charles Darwin is known to be one of the most influential people in science for his contributions to evolutionary biology and the theory of evolution. However, insight into his life led me to discover that scientists preceding him had already begun to coin the basis for his theory. So why is Darwin’s contribution much more prominent than the others?

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Legacies of the Darwinian Evolution

The Darwinian Evolution tells us about the struggles that scientists faced in the past, as well as some struggles that are still being faced in the present. Charles Darwin was on the Beagle expedition, which landed at the Galápagos Islands. Here, he was able to observe many new species which people had never seen back in England. It was on these islands where he made observations and formed a theory of evolution that would forever revolutionize the way we see creatures, as well as ourselves.

While on the islands, Darwin observed many different kinds of finches. He noticed that depending on which island the birds were located on, they shared different characteristics. Some finches had thick, shorter beaks, which would have been used to eat nuts and other large, harder foods. On other islands, he observed finches with smaller beaks, used for eating seeds and smaller foods that were located only on that island. From these observations, as well as the data he collected from many other creatures, Darwin concluded that these finches must have all shared a common ancestor. He believed that there was an original species of finch that started living on the island. Some finches made their way to other islands, where there were different climates and food sources. The finches that had mutations, such as a smaller beak, would be more adapted to eating the seeds of the new islands, while the other finches with larger beaks would eventually starve.

This brings up the idea of “survival of the fittest”, which suggests that the animals with mutations best suited for their environments would outlive the others of their species. Eventually, only the finches with the smaller beaks would live long enough to produce offspring, and these offspring would share the useful physical traits of their parents. Soon enough, an entirely new species of finch would be found on the island, and the ones with larger beaks would be found on the island where more nuts and large foods were located.

Darwin hypothesized that since these birds evolved from a common ancestor, it could most likely be concluded that even humans had a common ancestor, and eventually evolved into the people that we see today. This idea went against the church, however. The idea of evolution, and not that one god created each creature at the same time, went against religious beliefs of the church, and for this reason Darwin was hesitant as to whether he should publish his findings. He ends up doing so in a book called Origin of Species, and this book would forever change what we believe about species and their ancestors.

Even today, scientists have fears when it comes to publishing their findings, as they may go against what is commonly perceived to be true. Today, scientists must get over their fear of the backlash that they may receive, and publicize their findings so that the general public may become informed as to the research that is being performed. Once the new knowledge is out in the open, it may change our entire perception of the universe, just like Darwin did when he published his findings in the 1800s.

Darwin today was not the Darwin yesterday

There is no doubt that the idea of Darwinian Evolution revolutionized modern scientific thinking, with his extensive experience studying wildlife in the Galapagos Islands, and his subsequent conclusions on natural selection and descent with modification. When we think of evolution, we think of the scientist who brought this concept to light in the 19th century, Charles Darwin.

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Darwin’s Struggle

Charles Darwin’s discovery of evolutionary biology was a milestone in biological science. His discoveries support the notion that science is an ever changing subject. Evolution and natural selection, two of his most significant contributions, challenged the fundamentals of the church and encouraged individuals to rethink their origins. Though science was an ‘exclusive’ area in society, Charles Darwin brought forth concepts that shifted everyday thinking and implemented science into society; further, evolution changed the politics and social norms  of the 19th Century.

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Darwin’s Long Lasting Impact

Darwin’s impact shows the impact that science can have on the way that people think. As we look back on history, we look to certain notable thinkers who revolutionized the time period they were living in. Martin Luther inspired the Reformation. Galileo and others brought on the scientific revolution. John Locke contributed to the Enlightenment. All of these people helped to change the way people in their field thought about the subject. Darwin’s theory of evolution, however, sparked a change in all of society. His studies of biology helped to explain the world around us like never before. Continue reading

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