Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Doctrine of Darwin

RealClearPolitics has an interesting article by David Warren on Darwin. Amongst highlights the article notes the following:

As Darwin himself realized, the fossil stratum corresponding to the beginning of the Cambrian geological period was potentially inimical to his hypothesis. In a blink of geological time, now dated by various means to 542 million years ago, all of the advanced body types of "modern" multicellular organisms suddenly and simultaneously appear. The event is now known as the "Cambrian Explosion," and Darwin hoped it would be explained away by the later discovery of gradual evolutionary developments through the eons before. Instead, the shock of the transition has been enhanced by all subsequent study.

Likewise, Darwin trusted that the gradual development of such "irreducibly complex" organs as the eye, ear, and heart would be explained in due course (i.e. these organs can't work at all unless and until all their many parts are present and functioning in perfect harmony). Instead, advances in genetics, molecular biology, and biochemistry over the last half-century have revealed a vast world of irreducible complexities within the single living cell, by comparison to which the engineering of an eye would be child's play.

The man himself was very much a product of his age: a bourgeois Victorian adapted to an intellectual environment in which such fatuities as Utilitarianism and Malthusianism were in the air. In retrospect, he is a redundant character, for Wallace already had the theory, and many others could have drudged out Darwin’s specific points.
Read the whole article here.

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