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1 Local Warehouse Biology- Darwin Criticism

This title in other editions

Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated


Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated Cover




According to a 1991 opinion poll, a hundred million Americans believe

that "God created man pretty much in his present form at one time during

the last ten thousand years." A large majority saw no reason to oppose

the teaching of creationism in schools. They followed in a long

tradition. A text of 1923, Hell and the High Schools, claimed that: "The

Germans who poisoned the wells and springs of northern France and

Belgium and fed little children poisoned candy were angels compared to

the text-book writers and publishers who are poisoning the books used in

our schools . . . Next to the fall of Adam and Eve, Evolution and the

teaching of Evolution in tax-supported schools is the greatest curse

that ever fell upon this earth."

Fifty pieces of legislation tried to put a stop to the subject. All

failed. Undeterred, Alabama called for a note to be pasted into

textbooks: "This book may discuss evolution, a controversial theory some

scientists give as a scientific explanation for the origin of living

things, such as plants, animals and humans . . . No one was present when

life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's

origins should be considered as theory, not fact." In 1999 the Kansas

Board of Education voted to remove evolution from the school curriculum

and no doubt other states will try similar tricks.

Such intolerance is new. At the end of the last century few clerics

opposed the idea of evolution. In spite of polemic against a

"genealogical table which begins in the mud, has a monkey in the middle

and an infidel at the tail" most were ready to accept a compromise

between The Origin and the Bible. A Day of Creation might be millions of

years long, or might represent six real days that marked the origin of a

spiritual Man after the long ages it took all else to evolve. Real

bigotry had to wait for modern times.

The creationist movement is part of a triumphal New Ignorance that rules

in many places, the United States more than most. In fact, the majority

of those determined to tell lies to children believe in Darwin's theory

and understand how it works, without noticing. Evolution is embedded in

the American consciousness for a simple and terrible reason. For the

past two decades the nation has lived through an episode that has, with

extraordinary speed, laid bare the argument of The Origin of Species.

The organism involved was unknown in the nineteenth century, but is now

familiar. It is the AIDS virus.

Creationists find it easy to accept the science of AIDS. Its arrival so

close to the millennium and the Last Judgment is a useful illustration

of God's wrath. Homosexuals, they claim, have declared war on nature,

and nature has exacted an awful retribution. Fundamentalists admit the

evolution of a virus as nature's revenge but will not concede that the

same process acts upon life as a whole.

Even to anti-evolutionists, AIDS is proof of descent with modification

because they can see it happening. Its agent has changed in its brief

history and has adapted to overcome the many challenges with which it is

faced. As death approaches, a patient may be the home of

creatures--descendants of those that infected him--as different as are

humans and apes. Every continent, with its own sexual habits, has its

own exquisitely adjusted set of viruses; and AIDS has relatives in

animals quite different from ourselves. Darwin would have been delighted

to see the workings of his machine so starkly exposed.

Science makes patterns from ideas. If AIDS can evolve, so can anything

else. The Origin uses freshwater bears and flying fish to make a case

that applies to all forms of life. For its opponents, in contrast, what

is true for viruses cannot be true of birds or fish, let alone a man.

The existence of an animal as unlikely as a whale is, for them, proof

that evolution does not work.

The other view of the origin of whales, men or viruses is simple. As

many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive

and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for

existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any

manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying

conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be

naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any

selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.

Every part of Darwin's thesis is open to test. The clues--from fossils,

genes or geography--differ in each case, but from all of them comes the

conclusion that the whole of life is kin. That is no mere assertion, but

a chain of deduction with every link complete. The biography of the AIDS

virus, one of Nature's newest and tiniest products, is almost complete

and that of whales--the largest animals ever seen--is fragmentary, but

they are cousins under the skin. The AIDS virus is change seen under the

microscope, and the whale the same process viewed, in glimpses and over

long ages, through a biological telescope. Evolution at the extremes of

size is an apt prelude to the great drama that is Darwinism.

Product Details

Jones, Steve
Ballantine Books
New York
Natural selection
Evolution (Biology)
Life Sciences - Evolution
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.32x6.20x.90 in. 1.35 lbs.

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Science and Mathematics » Biology » Darwin Criticism
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
Science and Mathematics » Biology » General

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