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Charles Darwin and His Origin of Species

Charles Darwin and His Origin of Species

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Charles Darwin and His Origin of Species

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  1. Charles Darwin and His Origin of Species

  2. Darwin’s Background • Born in England, 1809  • Studied Medicine at Edinburgh University • Transferred to Cambridge University • Studied to be a Minister • Married 1st cousin & had 10 children Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ61-104].

  3. Darwin’s Expedition - 1831 • Hired as Naturalist on H.M.S. Beagle • Sailed on Five Year Scientific Expedition • Down East Coast of South America • Up Pacific Coast to Galapagos Islands • Made Stops on Mainland and Islands • Observed Variety of Life and Habitats

  4. Darwin’s Work • Outlined Theory in his Book in 1859: • On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection • Published Other Works on Biology

  5. Darwin received several scientific awards, but was never knighted. • When he died in April 1882, however, he was buried in Westminster Abbey in London.

  6. Summary of Origin of Species • Proposed Evolution Resulting from Natural Selection: • Organisms Produce Many Offspring • Competition for Food, Territory, Mates, etc. • Those With Best Traits Survive • Organisms Change Over Many Generations • Time Frame: Millions of Years

  7. Darwin’s Support for His Theory • Characteristics of Organisms Coincide With Habitats • Changes Produced by Breeding of Organisms • Similarities of Various Organisms (apes and humans)

  8. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection Organisms change in time, usually very slowly (sometimes extremely slowly), or evolve. Darwin wrote of “descent with modification” but the modern term is “evolution.” All organisms – animals, plants, fungi, all organisms – are descended from a remote common ancestor. The main (but not only) driving force for evolutionary change is natural selection, the survival of certain traits because they better adapt the organism for its survival. Natural selection doesn’t just select against inferior organisms, it selects for superior organisms and leads to even more superior organisms.

  9. Scientists’ Initial Reactions to Darwin’s Work • A Compilation of Assertions and Hypotheses • Unsupported by Scientific Testing • Contains Assumptions that Cannot Be Supported • Violates the Principles of Cause and Effect • Illogical Conclusions

  10. So Why Was It Eventually Accepted? • It Passed Rigorous Scientific Testing? • No, His Hypotheses Are Not Testable  • A Mechanism to Produce New Traits Discovered? • Mutations Result in Lost Genetic Information

  11. Ultimately, Acceptance Depended On One Factor: Willingness to Accept a Naturalistic Explanation

  12. Social Darwinism • Principles of Social Darwinism • Darwin’s theory of biological evolution: the best-adapted survive • Social Darwinism, or social evolution, based on Darwin’s theory • Economists use Social Darwinism to justify doctrine of laissez faire

  13. A New Definition of Success • Idea of survival, success of the most capable appeals to wealthy • Notion of individual responsibility in line with Protestant ethic • See riches as sign of God’s favor; poor must be lazy, inferior

  14. Social Darwinists were blatantly racist. • They applied theory of natural selection to societies & groups. • Ideas of racial superiority associated with Social Darwinism gave Europeans the conviction that natural laws destined them to lead “the civilizing mission.” • “The white man’s burden” – introducing civilization to the “inferior” races of the world. • Using terms such as “survival of the fittest,” social Darwinists insisted that nations and races were engaged in a struggle for survival in which only the fittest survive and deserve to win.