Examining Charles Darwin And Evolution Philosophy Essay
According to the dictionary, evolution is, “The historical development of a biological group (as a race or species)… A theory that the various types of animals and plants have their origins in preexisting types and that the distinguishable differences are due to modifications in successive generations” (Merriam Webster). This theory of evolution is what the majority of mainstream scientists have come to accept as why living things are the way they are today. It also explains how it happened. The theory was developed in the eighteen hundreds and first published by the British naturalist Charles Darwin; since then, the theory has been expanded by scientists, and today it is the theory accepted by the majority of the scientific community to explain the origins of life.
Charles Darwin first published his findings in his book, The Origin of Species, in eighteen fifty-nine. Although historians speculate that he was not the first one to develop the theory, they know that he was the first one to openly publish it. Because of that, he is the one credited with the theory. “Darwin and his book, more than anything, owe to The Beagle, the ship that took him around the world” (Ragendran, C. P.). On his voyage, Darwin stopped on the Galapagos Islands. While there, he observed a variety of species, particularly finches when he noticed something interesting. The same species of finches living in different locations in the island chain had different beaks. The finches living where there were bigger seeds had short stubby beaks to crunch down on the hard seeds. The finches living where there were smaller, grain-like seeds had long slender beaks to pick up the tiny seeds on the ground. Another situation like this was the tortoises on the islands. Although Darwin did not see the tortoises, it was the same situation. Tortoises living where there was plenty of foliage on the ground near their eye-level had a bowl-like shell. Tortoises living where there was no food on the ground, but a low canopy of foliage had a “saddle.” This saddle was a raise in their shell above their neck so they could easily reach up to eat from the foliage that was above their eye-level. When Darwin observed these differences in the same species, he concluded the theory of adaptation, or what he described as, “The survival of the fittest.” From that, he concluded that over a period of enough time, species in certain ecosystems would adapt so much; they would actually evolve and become a new species entirely.
After Darwin published his theory, skeptics like Adam Sedgwik fought against it, calling it “philosophical heresy” (Ragendran, C. P.). However, there was actually less opposition to the theory in his time than one might guess. “When Darwin died, he was to be buried in the churchyard of the village of Downe in Kent, where he spent most of his post-Beagle productive years. But there was a chorus of objection to it, mainly by the thinking public of England and a demand was placed to intern him in Westminster Abbey… Strangely, this chorus was also joined by the Church” (Ragendran, C. P.). According to the article, Darwin was actually a “Bible thumper and an ardent believer in special creation.” (Ragendran, C. P.). It is ironic that those who believe in evolution, particularly scientists, are usually skeptical of God and religion, and those who reject evolution are usually very strong believers. Perhaps this is because as science progressed, scientists did not want to have any thing to do with the immeasurable or unstudyable. As scientists moved away from the God, an unstudyable thing, they used the theory of evolution and the big bang theory to offer an explanation to how the world was made that could take God out of the equation. Perhaps that is why many Christian groups backlash against the theory today. They view it as a threat. Not all religious groups reject the theory though. In a speech to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope Benedict XVI stated that, “there is no opposition between faith’s understanding of creation and the evidence of the empirical sciences” (Pope Benedict XVI). At this point in time, it is unclear whether religion as a whole is accepting or rejecting of evolution, so it can not simply be classified as a science versus religion issue.
If it can not simply be classified as a science versus religion issue, there must be more to the picture. Today, evolution is generally accepted by scientists, but meny do not agree with all its contentions. “About half of Americans polled by Newsweek in 2007 claimed that evolution did not occur at all” (Bloom, Paul) In other words, it is a controversial topic which has not been completely agreed upon yet. There are holes in evolution, but there are no other compelling theories which make it a hard case to settle. Perhaps though, as science progresses on its exponential growth curve it is following now, new technology will be discovered which will formulate a new theory that makes complete sense. For hundreds of years doctors believed that drawing blood from patients purged diseases when it actually just made it worse. Maybe scientists of the future will look back on the people of this time and say, “What were they thinking? Was it not obvious they were wrong?” Perhaps they will perhaps not, but only time will tell. As of right now, it is not resolved.
Darwin’s theory of evolution which he developed watching finches on an isolated chain sparked a storm of ideas and disagreements thorough the world. It was controversial then, and it is controversial now. It is partly accepted, but not truly resolved. A new theory may emerge, but only time will tell for sure.
The proponents of evolution argue that evolution is true because it is such a widely accepted theory among the scientific community. Even though, as was pointed out earlier, about half of Americans in a Newsweek poll do not believe in evolution, scientists have always been ahead of the curve. Paul Bloom explained in his article, In Science We Trust, “All babies have certain beliefs and expectations… babies expect objects to fall if unsupported….One example is the shape of the Earth. Children's belief that unsupported objects fall downward is adaptive in the world we live in, but it makes it hard for them to see the world as a sphere--if it were a sphere, they can't help thinking, the people and things on the other side would fall off…It is difficult for children to shake this view… some striking experiments…found that when children are taught about the Earth, they often distort the scientific understanding in systematic ways…When asked to draw the Earth or model it with clay, for instance, some children depict it as a sphere with a flattened top or as a hollow sphere that people live inside...Something similar happens in the domain of evolution. There is by now a large body of research suggesting that humans are natural-born creationists…When we see nonrandom structure and design, we assume that it was created by an intelligent being…Deborah Kelemen of Boston University for instance, finds that children insist that everything has a purpose” (Bloom, Paul). In other words, regular people, specifically religious people are just like children or babies. They simply do not have the mental capacity to understand the world like educated scientists do. Also, opponents are only arguing against evolution. They are not even arguing for any thing except that God created the universe, but the only evidence for God is the universe which can be explained by scientists with evolution and the big bang.
The opponents of evolution usually agree with the theory of adaptation, but question how adaptation can go so far to change the type of species into something else. Scientists say it does not happen over night; it takes millions of years. However, there are many missing links in evolution. Missing links are the transition animals between species when species are evolving. If it took so many millions of years, there should be many fossils of missing links. Scientists also say that some animals in a species evolve but others do not evolve nearly as quickly and that is why single celled organisms still exist. However, why are there not any missing links that still exist? Why doesn’t Sasquatch still exist if only some of certain species evolve and some still stay the same? Evolution is inconsistent.
Anther opponent argument is that, scientists claim that life can only come from other life. There is only one problem with this. When did the first life begin? Was it from one cell in a primordial soup? The biosphere is extremely complex from the workings of ecosystems, to organisms, to cells. How then did this extremely complex web of interactions form out of one cell in a soup in a desolate landscape of a barren planet? How could that possibly happen by mere chance? Another inconstancy is the second law of thermodynamics states that entropy is the amount of disorder in the universe and every single movement increases this disorder until the eventual “heat death” of the universe. If that is true, then how did the living world (not even mentioning the universe in general) build itself into an extremely organized place if every movement and transfer in heat increases chaos? Science is contradicting itself.
Most scientists support evolution, but most scientists, supported the idea that the sun revolved around the earth and drawing blood cured a person. Just because a scientist supports something now does not mean it will be proven wrong later when better technology develops.
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