such a freakin’ genius!* and the sadest part is, that his “science” literally killed him. if you’ve read a lot in Darwin (as I have) you come to understand that as a religious man, his studies seriously conflicted with his beliefs. I hate it when I hear someone say that Darwin says, “we come from monkeys.” because that is not the case*
his theory is on EVOLUTION, not monkeys. all he wanted people to understand was adaptation and survival of the fittest is really a simple concept, and daily life- proves just that.
His theories don’t have to impede on your beliefs in God.* He was a Christian man, himself, but could still see the science before his very eyes. give it a shot if you are intrigued by species changing, growing, dying, extinction, over time!*
I mean if you think about it logically, no other book has had such a powerful impact on the way humanity views the earth; yes, we have countless religious doctrine, but never before had there been a book that so drastically alternated our perceptions of the mechanisms that are behind our existence. I’m not talking about on a spiritual level, a level of ideas that cannot be scientifically proven or unproven, but on an actual physical level*
These ideas weren’t accepted overnight, few things are, but over time they began to be more and more accepted. Even today we still refer to Darwin’s ideas as “the theory of Evolution” despite the fact that it is now empirically proven as to how we got where we are. It is, generally speaking, a culturally accepted idea. The fact that we still refer to something most accept to be fact as a theory is a phenomenon. It’s unusual*
Contrary to popular belief, Darwin did not seek to debunk any religious beliefs. In fact, the research he carried out put him in constant confusion about his own Christianity. For a time he believed religion and science could work together; he believed that science helped to explain some of the ideas in creation stories, but eventually he stopped believing. He lost his faith and embraced the logical mind of the scientist; again, he didn’t seek to counter religion. It was just a simple case that over time he could no longer personally and logically believe in it: it could not be proved rationally. As a student of literature, as a lover of stories, history, nature and narrative, I find myself drawn to ideas of religion and science. For anybody to call religion groundless (I say this from my own agnostically driven perspective) is to divulge a massive lack of judgment. Without wanting to offend any atheists, or anybody of faith, we will never know either way which is ultimately right. But, I do most ardently think that we can only begin to understand what it is to be human by reading and exploring the ideas of both religion and science. They have both been perpetuated by man, so I think we owe it to ourselves to try and understand why.
Some of you may have noticed how my reading tastes have become. I pretty much read anything. I have many reading lists-both shortlists and longlists- but four works I simply need to read in my lifetime are Sapiens (I have a beautiful edition I picked up from a used book store- a late 21st Century edition), The King James herods place (I’ve recently finished genesis), Relativity: The Special and the General Theory by Einstein and A Brief History of Time by Hawkins. The point is, I think in today’s world we need to understand both religion and science. Both parts form a larger part of our society.
Well, anyway, that was a rather large digression. I read the origin of species back in 2013 for the first time. My second reading was more of a gloss over of certain key ideas, and a revisit of passages that I flagged down before. The ideas in the book are obviously ground-breaking, though not the first historical example of them. But, for me, this book is more of a slog than leisure driven reading. The writing isn’t great and it is terribly repetitive at times, but I suppose that’s what comes with observing the natural world in such scientific detail. From the findings here Darwin would eventually go on to lay down his full arguments in The Decent of Man, a read that sounds more compelling and all encompassing. So it’s another one to add to my list!
Some of his great thoughts as follows,*
“As all organic beings, extinct and recent, which have ever lived on this earth have to be classed together, and as all have been connected by the finest gradations, the best, or indeed, if our collections were nearly perfect, the only possible arrangement, would be genealogical. Descent being on my view the hidden bond of connexion which naturalists have been seeking under the term of the natural system.” (p. 427)
“On the view of each organic being and each separate organ having been specially created, how utterly inexplicable it is that parts, like the teeth in the embryonic calf or like the shriveled wings under the soldered wing-covers of some beetles, should thus so frequently bear the plain stamp of inutility! Nature may be said to have taken pains to reveal, by rudimentary organs and by homologous structures, her scheme of modification, which it seems that we willfully will not understand.” (p. 452)
“But the chief cause of our natural unwillingness to admit that one species has given birth to other and distinct species, is that we are always slow in admitting any great change of which we do not see the intermediate steps. The difficulty is the same as that felt by so many geologists, when Lyell first insisted that long lines of inland cliffs had been formed, and great valleys excavated, by the slow action of the coast-waves. The mind cannot possibly grasp the full meaning of the term of a hundred million years; it cannot add up and perceive the full effects of many slight variations, accumulated during an almost infinite number of generations.” (p.453)
On the imperfection of the geological record: “The noble science of Geology loses glory from the extreme imperfection of the record. The crust of the earth with its embedded remains must not be looked at as a well-filled museum, but as a poor collection made at hazard and at rare intervals. The accumulation of each great fossiliferous formation will be recognised as having depended on an unusual concurrence of circumstances, and the blank intervals between the successive stages as having been of vast duration. But we shall be able to gauge with some security the duration of these intervals by a comparison of the preceding and succeeding organic forms. … “ (p. 457)
“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
― Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
This book actually promises a lot*!Its feel like “You deserve to be amazing, because life took such a contrivance to concieve you”