Friday, March 27, 2009

On the Origin of Species

This year marks 150 years of the 'Origin of Species', by Charles Darwin, which is why stories like a school in Texas wanting to start giving out Masters of Science in Creationism disturbs me oh so much. This year also saw Darwin's 200th birthday, and you really wonder if he's turning around down there seeing what is going on in parts of the US. 

Though Darwin made his major discovery during the five year Beagle Voyage ( there's a long cruise!), he put off writing the "Origin of Species' until 1859 because of his worry about how it would be taken in a very religious England at the time. The view in the 1800's was that God was the selector of all things great and small and so the thought that the world itself was selecting, causing extinctions and creating new species was just too anti-religious, and he worried about his family and the effects it would have on him. But he eventually was persuaded to finish his book and publish it, and although religious attacks were made in force, the book was a hit and the field of Evolution began. 

So where are we 150 years later? I admit until I hit the US five years ago I didn't realise how big creationism was in certain places here. Although I have no issues in creationism being taught (I feel it's good for children to be taught many sides to a story), when it's taught in exclusion of evolution, or they start talking about a Masters of Science in creationism, now that really does get my goat. I am not religious, but I do respect religion, it just needs to stay in the religion category, not science....

"I am a strong advocate for free thought on all subjects, yet is appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against Christianity and theism produce hardly any affect on the public and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds which follows from the advance of science. It has therefore, been always my object to avoid writing on religion and I have confined myself to science. I may, however, have been unduly biased by the pain which it would give some members of my family, if I aided in any way direct attacks on religion'. A letter written by Darwin in 1880

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