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Subject: Reading Through "The Origin of Species" rss

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A Voice In the Wilderness
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I thought it might gladden the hearts of those who have exchanged thoughts with me in RSP to know that I am currently working my way through Darwin's great work. It occurred to me that while I have been reading quite a few books lately, some dealing directly with evolution and some more indirectly, I have never actually read the one book that actually kicked off the theory of evolution, or even any significant part of it, so I have been setting aside time to correct that situation. First off, I'll say I am not really reading it to find evidence for or against Darwin's ideas, as that wouldn't make it an enjoyable experience - I really just want to hear what the man himself had to say, and perhaps try to understand where he was coming from, especially in view of the fact he compiled Origin in the mid-Victorian era, before the American Civil War. Some of the science is still a bit above me, even in the times we now live, and I do find his style a little awkward, but I have found something sympathetic in the man himself, which has encouraged me to press on.

Naturally, I will have some questions about the information I am reading, so I am thinking RSP would be the ideal place to post them as I go through the material, just to see if I am drawing correct conclusions or not, since some here have proven to be far more versed in Darwin than I. So, in the noble spirit of Victorian scientific inquiry - and, please, excusing my ignorance - here are the first couple questions I have:

1) I'm at page 190(the paperback edition by Simon & Schuster) and have noticed that several times so far Darwin has referred to a future work containing more facts and relevant data to support his conclusions. I realize he felt a bit of a time constraint when he was rushing Origin to the presses back in 1859, so I can understand why he would do as he proposes, but did he ever publish a more comprehensive volume, or volumes, at a later date containing the information he refers to?

------------------------------------

2) I have also noticed that several times the author has interrupted a chain of thought to raise a point essentially questioning the validity of accepting belief in the "special creation of each species"(is roughly how he puts it) - I presume he means creation by God, but if so, I am wondering why he specifically refers to the creation of "species" and not of "kinds", which is the base classification proposed in the creation of life as described in Genesis chapter 1:

"21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

I guess because the word "species" is not used anywhere there in the King James version, which I assume Darwin had at his disposal, I am a little confused as to why he would refer to the "special creation of species" and not of "kinds" or perhaps "genera" or some larger taxonomic classification equivalent to the term "kinds". For me, those stand out as somewhat awkward moments in the reading, so did he have a reason for using the term that further reading will perhaps illuminate?
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Is there any way of getting cmmentary on how the theory ha changed since then?
 
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1)I know he oublished further works, he also was aware that he was starting,not completing the work on evolution.

2)species being the scientific term and the book being a science book I wouldn't read anything into it being different vocabulary than the bible.
 
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gamesterinns wrote:

1) I'm at page 190(the paperback edition by Simon & Schuster) and have noticed that several times so far Darwin has referred to a future work containing more facts and relevant data to support his conclusions. I realize he felt a bit of a time constraint when he was rushing Origin to the presses back in 1859, so I can understand why he would do as he proposes, but did he ever publish a more comprehensive volume, or volumes, at a later date containing the information he refers to?


He released revised editions of the book several times to add more information and to address criticisms of earlier editions. Six in all I think. When I read it, I sought out the first edition.

Quote:

2) I have also noticed that several times the author has interrupted a chain of thought to raise a point essentially questioning the validity of accepting belief in the "special creation of each species"(is roughly how he puts it) - I presume he means creation by God, but if so, I am wondering why he specifically refers to the creation of "species" and not of "kinds", which is the base classification proposed in the creation of life as described in Genesis chapter 1:

"21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

I guess because the word "species" is not used anywhere there in the King James version, which I assume Darwin had at his disposal, I am a little confused as to why he would refer to the "special creation of species" and not of "kinds" or perhaps "genera" or some larger taxonomic classification equivalent to the term "kinds". For me, those stand out as somewhat awkward moments in the reading, so did he have a reason for using the term that further reading will perhaps illuminate?


My guess is the Linnaean system of classification was in use and familiar to Darwin at that time.
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gamesterinns wrote:

2) I have also noticed that several times the author has interrupted a chain of thought to raise a point essentially questioning the validity of accepting belief in the "special creation of each species"(is roughly how he puts it) - I presume he means creation by God, but if so, I am wondering why he specifically refers to the creation of "species" and not of "kinds", which is the base classification proposed in the creation of life as described in Genesis chapter 1:

"21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

I guess because the word "species" is not used anywhere there in the King James version, which I assume Darwin had at his disposal, I am a little confused as to why he would refer to the "special creation of species" and not of "kinds" or perhaps "genera" or some larger taxonomic classification equivalent to the term "kinds". For me, those stand out as somewhat awkward moments in the reading, so did he have a reason for using the term that further reading will perhaps illuminate?


IMO, it's not the Judeo-Christian religions Darwin was aiming there (he was very cautious about not 'invading' theological ground with his reasoning). Evolution of life is a very neat and simple concept, but it took so long as until 1800-1850 to formulate firs evolutionary theories. The answer is simple - Platon and his essentialism, which fixed European scholars' thinking about species as something fixed (essential). Essentialism got well along with Christianity, so Platon's legacy, among very few ancient philosophers, was adopted by Christianity. Essentialism was one of the tools used by theologians to support creationism.
As for the Bible, its authors were not natural scientists, and the Linnean classification was not known at the time it was written. I would be cautious about basing your reasoning on which word a given edition of the Bible uses. It's just like learning quantum physics through the Greek mythology.
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Svartisen wrote:
...Judeo-Christian religions...

Leave us out of this. Judeo-Christian is a Christian myth.
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whac3 wrote:
Svartisen wrote:
...Judeo-Christian religions...

Leave us out of this. Judeo-Christian is a Christian myth.


Abrahamic is more accurate, I agree. No reason to leave Islam out >
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windsagio wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Svartisen wrote:
...Judeo-Christian religions...

Leave us out of this. Judeo-Christian is a Christian myth.


Abrahamic is more accurate, I agree. No reason to leave Islam out >

Ignorance on parade is a few threads over.
 
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whac3 wrote:
Is there any way of getting cmmentary on how the theory ha changed since then?


I've flipped through an annotated edition of the book with commentary by modern biologists in the bookstore. It was a good-looking edition, but too expensive for my tastes.
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whac3 wrote:
windsagio wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Svartisen wrote:
...Judeo-Christian religions...

Leave us out of this. Judeo-Christian is a Christian myth.


Abrahamic is more accurate, I agree. No reason to leave Islam out >

Ignorance on parade is a few threads over.


Oh you with the blatant irony :D
 
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windsagio wrote:
whac3 wrote:
windsagio wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Svartisen wrote:
...Judeo-Christian religions...

Leave us out of this. Judeo-Christian is a Christian myth.


Abrahamic is more accurate, I agree. No reason to leave Islam out >

Ignorance on parade is a few threads over.


Oh you with the blatant irony

Since I almost assuredly know more than you about all three religions, the irony is not where you think.
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whac3 wrote:

Since I almost assuredly know more than you about all three religions, the irony is not where you think.


You probably know more than me about Judaism, I'll totally grant that.

The others... I don't know.

The bigger problem is your utter inability to see outside of the tiny bubble you've built for yourself out of your own personal prejudices.

The traditions have been considered linked for over a millennium, and the historical links are pretty much accepted history. Just because the link is personally distasteful to you doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
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windsagio wrote:
whac3 wrote:

Since I almost assuredly know more than you about all three religions, the irony is not where you think.


You probably know more than me about Judaism, I'll totally grant that.

The others... I don't know.

The bigger problem is your utter inability to see outside of the tiny bubble you've built for yourself out of your own personal prejudices.

The traditions have been considered linked for over a millennium, and the historical links are pretty much accepted history. Just because the link is personally distasteful to you doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Your assumption of what my supposed prejudices are is simply bizarre and reflect more your own prejudices than anything else.
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Make your own religious dick-measuring thread and leave this one for Stuart's questions and Marshall's answers, plz.
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CapAp wrote:
Make your own religious dick-measuring thread and leave this one for Stuart's questions and Marshall's answers, plz.

? Cappy, what are you on about this time?
 
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whac3 wrote:
windsagio wrote:
whac3 wrote:

Since I almost assuredly know more than you about all three religions, the irony is not where you think.


You probably know more than me about Judaism, I'll totally grant that.

The others... I don't know.

The bigger problem is your utter inability to see outside of the tiny bubble you've built for yourself out of your own personal prejudices.

The traditions have been considered linked for over a millennium, and the historical links are pretty much accepted history. Just because the link is personally distasteful to you doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Your assumption of what my supposed prejudices are is simply bizarre and reflect more your own prejudices than anything else.


Observed conclusions, thanks.
 
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CapAp wrote:
Make your own religious dick-measuring thread and leave this one for Stuart's questions and Marshall's answers, plz.


no.
 
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windsagio wrote:
whac3 wrote:
windsagio wrote:
whac3 wrote:

Since I almost assuredly know more than you about all three religions, the irony is not where you think.


You probably know more than me about Judaism, I'll totally grant that.

The others... I don't know.

The bigger problem is your utter inability to see outside of the tiny bubble you've built for yourself out of your own personal prejudices.

The traditions have been considered linked for over a millennium, and the historical links are pretty much accepted history. Just because the link is personally distasteful to you doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Your assumption of what my supposed prejudices are is simply bizarre and reflect more your own prejudices than anything else.


Observed conclusions, thanks.

Your powers of observation are underwhelming.
 
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pwn3d wrote:
I listened to the Richard Dawkin's audiobook of Origin of Species and he discusses each place where Darwin's views had since been updated at the time of the recording. I am pretty sure Dawkins does not discuss religion at all, except when Darwin mentions it. Either way I would recommend the Dawkin's reading if you like audiobooks.


thumbsup It's really good. I recommend it!
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whac3 wrote:
Is there any way of getting cmmentary on how the theory ha changed since then?


It's changed enormously, see this article: Modern evolutionary synthesis

tl;dr Darwin knew nothing about genetics, a field which really got going about 70 years after he died. Darwin's ideas were based on observations of morphology and anatomy, which is kind of the scientific equivalent of train-spotting: Darwin had the tools to classify and contrast the different organisms he encountered, based on how they looked and acted, but he didn't really have any clue what was going on in the 'engine room' (DNA, ribosomes, etc.).

Observation alone, still provided plenty of evidence for Darwin's two big breakthroughs, the realizations that all life shared a common descent, and changed over time thanks to pressures from natural selection. But, Darwin remained ignorant of the real nature of inheritance and made several significant wrong guesses about how it worked.

This is why biologists kind of LOL at the idea that evolution is "Darwinism."

Sorry to dissuade you from your quest, but Origins is not a particularly good text to learn about biology for the same reason that you would not read Johannes Kepler's Astronomia Nova if you wanted to learn about astronomy. You will find no mention of galaxies, black holes or asteroids in that book, and in fact Kepler argued that the Sun drives the planets' motions because of its magnetic field. It was another dude named Isaac, with better observations and insights, who corrected that mistake.

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Linoleumblownaparte wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Is there any way of getting cmmentary on how the theory ha changed since then?


It's changed enormously, see this article: Modern evolutionary synthesis

tl;dr Darwin knew nothing about genetics, a field which really got going about 70 years after he died. Darwin's ideas were based on observations of morphology and anatomy, which is kind of the scientific equivalent of train-spotting: Darwin had the tools to classify and contrast the different organisms he encountered, based on how they looked and acted, but he didn't really have any clue what was going on in the 'engine room' (DNA, ribosomes, etc.).

Observation alone, still provided plenty of evidence for Darwin's two big breakthroughs, the realizations that all life shared a common descent, and changed over time thanks to pressures from natural selection. But, Darwin remained ignorant of the real nature of inheritance and made several significant wrong guesses about how it worked.

This is why biologists kind of LOL at the idea that evolution is "Darwinism."

Sorry to dissuade you from your quest, but Origins is not a particularly good text to learn about biology for the same reason that you would not read Johannes Kepler's Astronomia Nova if you wanted to learn about astronomy. You will find no mention of galaxies, black holes or asteroids in that book, and in fact Kepler argued that the Sun drives the planets' motions because of its magnetic field. It was another dude named Isaac, with better observations and insights, who corrected that mistake.


Yes, I know it's changed dramatically and hence the question asked. How much is reading the book like reading Newton's Principia in an attempt to learn about modern physics?
 
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Svartisen wrote:
gamesterinns wrote:

2) I have also noticed that several times the author has interrupted a chain of thought to raise a point essentially questioning the validity of accepting belief in the "special creation of each species"(is roughly how he puts it) - I presume he means creation by God, but if so, I am wondering why he specifically refers to the creation of "species" and not of "kinds", which is the base classification proposed in the creation of life as described in Genesis chapter 1:

"21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

I guess because the word "species" is not used anywhere there in the King James version, which I assume Darwin had at his disposal, I am a little confused as to why he would refer to the "special creation of species" and not of "kinds" or perhaps "genera" or some larger taxonomic classification equivalent to the term "kinds". For me, those stand out as somewhat awkward moments in the reading, so did he have a reason for using the term that further reading will perhaps illuminate?


IMO, it's not the Judeo-Christian religions Darwin was aiming there (he was very cautious about not 'invading' theological ground with his reasoning). Evolution of life is a very neat and simple concept, but it took so long as until 1800-1850 to formulate firs evolutionary theories. The answer is simple - Platon and his essentialism, which fixed European scholars' thinking about species as something fixed (essential). Essentialism got well along with Christianity, so Platon's legacy, among very few ancient philosophers, was adopted by Christianity. Essentialism was one of the tools used by theologians to support creationism.


To be fair to Plato, essentialism is a pretty easy mistake to make if you only observe a few dozen generations of reproduction. "Goats keep making goats, just like Zeus ordained, case closed!"

Quote:
As for the Bible, its authors were not natural scientists, and the Linnean classification was not known at the time it was written. I would be cautious about basing your reasoning on which word a given edition of the Bible uses. It's just like learning quantum physics through the Greek mythology.


Yes, and any creationist who thinks the ancient Hebrews were "proto-Linneans" because of this ridiculous interpretation of the word "baramin" in Genesis 1, should just read chapter 30 of the same book!

whac3 wrote:

Yes, I know it's changed dramatically and hence the question asked. How much is reading the book like reading Newton's Principia in an attempt to learn about modern physics?


It's so much worse. You'd be way closer to a modern understanding of physics with Newton than you would be to a modern understanding of biology with Darwin.

Just to give a taste of how historically recent all of this is...

The ribosome is the molecular machine that "reads" your DNA and translates its instructions into newly synthesized proteins (like the enzymes that help digest food, or the hemoglobin that transports oxygen in your blood). The Nobel Prize for discovering ribosomes was awarded in 1974. The Nobel Prize for characterizing the structure of DNA itself was only awarded in 1962. Since DNA is tiny, the only way it can be studied is by 'amplifying' it with a reaction that produces billions of duplicates. The reaction for doing this was discovered in the early 80s and earned the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993. The human genome was first sequenced in its entirety in 2000.
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Linoleumblownaparte wrote:
This is why biologists kind of LOL at the idea that evolution is "Darwinism."


Since they give great respect to Darwin, I don't think LOL is the right attitude. Of course they don't suggest it stops there.

Quote:
Sorry to dissuade you from your quest, but Origins is not a particularly good text to learn about biology


Except that numerous evolutionary biologists, such as Dawkins, do recommend reading it. The point is not that this is the modern answer, but that this shows how even with what was available to Darwin (and hence to the layman today) the idea came about. From a modern perspective you can then say that based on what Darwin knew he had this good idea that unified all of what he had. How has it held up since then? Fantastically well, theoretical gaps have been plugged, mechanisms discovered, examples observed, experiments performed, and so on. But you need to read the Origin of Species on that light, not as a book with all the answers. It may not be a good first book on the subject.
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whac3 wrote:
How much is reading the book like reading Newton's Principia in an attempt to learn about modern physics?


One big difference is Darwin in written to be intelligible by the educated but not specialist reader, while Principia (which I have not read) is full of Euclidean maths, obscuring that really he did it with calculus, but is (for one reason or another) keeping the calculus out of it. So for those of us today for whom calculus is neither controversial or obscure, a calculus based approach is easier. Although Feynman did deliver a lecture on deriving a central force law from Kepler's laws without calculus IIRC.

And of course Newton is "just" basic mechanics and gravity, not all the rest of physics. And there are more mathematically sophisticated ways of handling those due to Lagrange, Hamilton and so on that Newton had no idea about. And I've never read anyone recommending reading Principia (I'm sure someone has, but probably not to understand the physics).
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linoleum blownaparte
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Dearlove wrote:
Linoleumblownaparte wrote:
This is why biologists kind of LOL at the idea that evolution is "Darwinism."


Since they give great respect to Darwin, I don't think LOL is the right attitude. Of course they don't suggest it stops there.


Yeah, my point is sometimes creationists take the term to mean that modern biology is just a school of philosophy and Darwin is its originator or guru. So if Darwin was wrong about XYZ (and he was wrong about plenty) or he "recanted on his deathbed" (that one's an urban legend) then that's a silver bullet for 'Darwinism.' That's what I interpreted to be behind OP's idea of "Well I guess I should learn about evolution, better crack open Origin of Species!"

Dude would be better served by Campbell-Reece Biology 9th ed.
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