Darwin Diary, Part One
Well, I have finally started on Mr. Charles Darwin. I know a number of you said I should read other books about evolution, and I appreciate why you suggested these books. I appreciate that Darwin had holes that have been filled in the subsequent years, but I’m not really reading Darwin to fully educate me on evolution and how it works. The two books I have read by Ken Miller have done an outstanding job in this regard.
I don’t think atheists grasp how much Darwin represents the devil’s work to Christians. I know it makes no sense, but there you go. This is why, in my attempt to educate Christians on science, etc, I had to start with the icon of hate, as it were. I feel like that in order to challenge people’s thinking on this issue, you have to get at the most strongly held thoughts and feelings. People’s feelings on Darwin qualify.
So, without any further justification, my thoughts on the first chapter of Darwin’s Origin of the Species.
What struck me about the first chapter was how much Darwin quoted experts in various scientific fields of the time. Too often, the popular picture is of Darwin as someone who thought all of this on his own. As is the case with all revolutionaries, this is simply not the case. Any figure in history, good or bad, you can find thoughts, movements, etc all coming together in a person. This is true with Darwin, as many of the threads of his theory were all out there. He just bound them together and presented them to the world. I really appreciated his humility in this respect and it sets a good example for scientific humility.
The book started off in a way I didn’t expect, that is, with farm breeding. At first, I was trying to figure out why he started out with this chapter and then I realized, it’s what most people could identify with in 19th centuary England. It was and still is, actually a brilliant starting point. Breeders, farmers, etc, know these basic rules and it’s a brilliant starting point for conversations about evolution. I wonder if those who want evolution taught should consider Darwin’s approach, start with something they know and accept. Ken Miller certainly does that, but I wonder how widely applied it might be. I haven’t read Dawkins new book yet, so it’s possible he does that.
I thought this quote was interesting, “The laws governing inheritance are for the most part unknown”. Obviously, we know them now, it’s genetics. And it’s very interesting to note how Francis Collins argues that genetics are the ultimate proof of evolution. I found it interesting that a key proof of his theory was unknown at the time and he still took the risk of putting it out there. You gotta love that.
I also found it interesting that he didnt know when and how we domesticated animals. Nor, if there was any reason why some could be and some couldn’t. Does anyone know the answer to this question? If so, feel free to write in the comment section.
Finally, I found it interesting that breeder’s do the selecting as an intelligent agent to obtain the best results. This obviously sets up the argument for natural selection and evolution to do the selecting. But, I wonder, could this be taken a step further and say that God engineered evolution to be this way? That is, the reason evolution acts as an intelligent agency is that God designed it to be so? An interesting thought I want to explore more.
Okay, I know these thoughts are sort of stream of consciousness. That’s the way I picture my entries on this. That is, my reading and writing down notes for you all to read.