Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin was an English geologist and natural scientist whose research and theories are still used and mostly accepted world-wide. It is a certain fact that you cannot be a scientist and without knowing who Charles Darwin is. He developed some of the most fundamental terms of science. In Charles Darwin’s book,On the Origin of Species, Darwin set out to research and understand the diversity and adaptation of life due to his observance of various finches on Galapagos Island. Darwin concluded that evolution happened in steps, over time, and his idea of natural selection, although he could not fully understand it at the time, was based on the ‘survival of the fittest’. He developed a few points on how natural selection occurred. One point is: more offspring are produced than those that can actually survive.

Charles Darwin’s book was addressed to other scientists of his time. His purpose in writing was to inform and invoke others to question the unknown. It entails specific language and a certain degree of education to understand his research. This implies that he intended his audience to have some caliber of understanding of science.
His writing was of a very controversial nature. In publishing his work, Darwin stood to undergo a fair share of scrutiny. ‘Evolution’ was a term that represented something that threatened the core of the Church of England. Threatening the Church of England could lead to punishment by death or expulsion. Darwin also had to worry about what his peers would think of his book. Darwin basically says that all species derived from one or a group of common ancestors. In saying that one can understand why the church would frown on this type of declaration. The Bible says that God created all species individually. Not all evolving from one common animal. It implies that humans came from other animals, not from the creation of God. It was so controversial that he held on to it for twenty years before publishing it. Even though he grew up in the Church, people called him an atheist. He has been known to consider himself more of an agnostic- he stated that he did not deny the existence of God.

Darwin was trying to accomplish one thing- answers to a curious mind. He observed the world with questions that could not be answered easily, and wanted to share his findings with other scientist and people of his time. He wanted to know WHY the finches in some areas had one beak and the finches in another area had a different beak. Darwin allowed room for people to speculate theories of their own because he clearly stated that some things he couldn’t explain. This encouraged others to invoke ideas of their own and begin to question how this ‘natural selection’ phenomenon occurred. He opened the door to a lot of research in the science world. He stated things others may have thought but were too afraid to put in writing and publish. (There was one other scientist who was developing this same ideas at the time, a bit different, but very close in nature. They jointly presented their findings in separate books but at the same time. His name was Wallace.)

All in all, I think Darwin was very successful in the way in which he presented his material based on the simple fact that Darwin’s theories are taught in every evolution class, genetics class, and most basic science books. He provides his research findings in a detailed framework. His tone is informative and direct. His theories are the most accepted theory, in science, of how some species came to be, how some species adapted, why some died out or became extinct, etc.

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