Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Darwin Day: a personal offering

Iver at Scientific American Blogs, a very nice Darwin Day post, called A personal offering, by chemist Ashutosh Jogalekar
When it comes to evolution, attaching the label of “Darwinism” has obscured the importance and power of the theory of natural selection. On one hand, those who defend the label sometimes make it sound as if Darwin was the beginning and end of everything to do with evolution. This is simply untrue; in his creation of the theory of natural selection, Darwin was a little like Martin Luther King. The Civil Rights movement owed an incalculable debt to King, but King was not the Civil Rights movement. On the other hand, those who oppose the Darwinist label make it sound like all of us who “believe” in evolution and natural selection have formed a cult and get together every weekend to worship some Darwin idol.

Unfortunately both these positions only serve to obfuscate the life and times of the man himself, a simple, gentle and brilliant soul who painfully struggled with reconciling his view of the world with prevailing religious sentiments and who thought it right to cast his religious views aside in the end for the simple reason that his findings agreed with the evidence while the others did not. Darwin Day should be a chance to celebrate the life of this remarkable individual, free from the burdens of religion and political context that his theory is embroiled in today. Because so much has been said and written about Darwin already, this will be more of a personal and selective exposition. Since I am a lover of both Darwin and books, I will tell my short story of Darwin as I discovered him through books.

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