PDA

View Full Version : Have you read any of Darwin's works?



HenrikOlsen
2005-Dec-27, 10:42 AM
We keep having these discussions about the Evolution vs. ID debates, so I'd like to have a small poll about Darwin.

Incidentally, I haven't read Origin, but Descent is good, though he should have used Ascent instead, might have made it more popular :)

mickal555
2005-Dec-27, 12:34 PM
I've read none... but I intend to... eventually...

Swift
2005-Dec-27, 02:08 PM
I voted "read neither" but I've actually read parts of Origin, but far from the whole thing.

ToSeek
2005-Dec-27, 03:18 PM
I've read The Origin of Species and listened to Voyage of the Beagle via audio tape. I strongly recommend the former.

JohnW
2005-Dec-27, 03:59 PM
I read Origin about fifteen years ago, but haven't read anything else. I'm looking at this (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393061345/qid=1135699099/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/102-8357516-6135358?s=books&v=glance&n=283155) as a late gift for myself.

Eroica
2005-Dec-27, 04:05 PM
I've read The Origin of Species and The Voyage of the Beagle.

Sam5
2005-Dec-27, 04:47 PM
I've read The Origin of Species and The Voyage of the Beagle.

I’ve read all three. They are very racist books that helped England and other European countries justify their Empires in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

ToSeek
2005-Dec-27, 05:55 PM
I’ve read all three. They are very racist books that helped England and other European countries justify their Empires in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

They were thoroughly embarrassed about their empires until Darwin came along, I'm sure. :rolleyes:

Gillianren
2005-Dec-27, 08:34 PM
I've read passages of Origin and Beagle--and how is that people consider Darwin so racist, given the marvelously egalitarian passages opposing slavery in Beagle?

Disinfo Agent
2005-Dec-27, 08:57 PM
I’ve read all three. They are very racist books that helped England and other European countries justify their Empires in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.What about the biology in them?

ToSeek
2005-Dec-27, 08:57 PM
I've read passages of Origin and Beagle--and how is that people consider Darwin so racist, given the marvelously egalitarian passages opposing slavery in Beagle?

Darwin did think that blacks were inferior, but then so did almost all of his contemporaries, including Abraham Lincoln. Creationists use Darwin's views to bash him with, but it's not as if racism came into being in 1859, and there were those who justified slavery on Biblical grounds.

Sam5
2005-Dec-28, 02:09 AM
Darwin did think that blacks were inferior, but then so did almost all of his contemporaries, including Abraham Lincoln. Creationists use Darwin's views to bash him with, but it's not as if racism came into being in 1859, and there were those who justified slavery on Biblical grounds.

Yes, I agree. This is a reminder that everyone has to be very careful with all kinds of theories and books, and we especially have to be careful promoting theories from books we’ve never read, which I think is one of the points of this thread. Also, we need to read certain books within historical perspectives and context, and I think we really should read all books that contain theories that we promote. I think that promoting a theory without reading the original author’s original version of the theory is a little silly, and can be somewhat dangerous, because we might not know of some bad effects some of the theories had in the past... bad effects that we should be aware of.

For example, back in the late 1960s some publisher was promoting a translation of the historical book “Mein Kampf.” I mean, it was being promoted as a “must read” for history buffs, especially in light of all the new “holocaust” movies Hollywood was turning out, so that modern American and British people could learn valuable lessons from reading the book and avoid repeating some of the same mistakes the German people made in the 1930s. Well, I read “Mein Kampf” in the late ‘60s, but I didn’t understand it. In fact, I couldn’t figure out why anyone in Germany in the 1930s would have thought that book was “relevant” in any social, political, or historical way.

Then years later, in the ‘90s, I finally read “The Origin of Species,” “The Descent of Man”, and “Mein Kampf,” in that sequence, during the course of about a year, and then, all of a sudden, I understood “Mein Kampf” and why it was thought of in Germany in the 1930s as being extremely modern, historical, and socially and politically relevant to the great new modern world that had aeroplanes, blimps, fast trains, cars, the Autobahn superhighway, early rockets, the new media of radio and movies, and the early beginnings of TV.

I was shocked and started by how much Hitler relied upon and promoted Darwinist beliefs in the first half of his book. Then I began to wonder what else I had missed, and I began to study that Darwinist era more and I discovered the now-hushed-up “science” of “eugenics”. Wow, what a disaster that turned out to be. The first half of “Mein Kampf” basically contained Galton’s eugenics theory (which Galton derived from Darwin’s theory) applied to a “modern” nation. I was amazed at how many other old pre-Hitler eugenics books I was able to find, published in the US and in Britain, before the 1930s. This stuff was so popular in the 1890 to 1910 era, Hitler must have learned about it in school. The subject was surely included among the “latest science theory” discussions in university student union buildings all over Europe back in those days. Nietzsche probably learned about it in school and he based some of his philosophy on it. H.G. Wells wrote several science books that included chapters glorifying eugenics. It was an old well-developed and widely-practiced theory by the time Hitler got his mitts on it.

And I don’t think the world is finished with eugenics yet. I think it’s bound to return in a big way, someday, especially with all the various DNA studies going on around the world. So, my point is, everyone should read a book before he/she promotes the theory it contains, and I think the Darwin books should be read before the Darwin theory is promoted without some cautions and warnings regarding it.

Gillianren
2005-Dec-28, 02:29 AM
I know this has been explained to you before, but bear with me, here, because I'm going to explain it again.

The modern science that encompasses "evolution" is not word-for-word the science that Darwin described--and he, in fact, didn't use the word if he could avoid it, since he felt it was an inaccurate summary of his theory.

There's more than a century of research behind modern biology. While Darwin did, in fact, predict DNA in Origin, he didn't know it existed, as he'd never read Mendel. (Not that Mendel knew about DNA, exactly, but Darwin didn't know about genetics.) Darwin didn't have most of the techniques that have confirmed, over and over, the main thrust of his theory.

Parts of purely Darwinian evolution are wrong, this is true. But so what? It's a rare theory that cannot be changed--in fact, if it can't be changed to fit observation, that's almost certainly because it's wrong at the outset. We now know that neither catastrophism nor equilibrianism (there's another word for that, but I don't remember it) are strictly speaking accurate portrayals of the Earth's history but are in fact both right at times. We understand a great deal more about the processes that make up evolutionary theory than Darwin did, than Darwin could, given the advances in science since his day.

This is something I don't understand, unless it is intentionally used as a dodge by creationists/IDers. There's this impression among some--generally those without a good background in biology--that what gets taught in high school biology as evolution is exactly what Darwin described. This simply isn't true--or if it is, it's a failing of the teacher and not the theory. What gets taught in physics isn't exactly what Newton laid out, either; science itself evolves. Darwin was more right than wrong, but I've not met anyone who actually paid attention in biology class who cannot admit that he got some things wrong.

Swift
2005-Dec-28, 03:11 AM
Beautifully written post Gillianren. :clap:

Jim
2005-Dec-28, 03:49 AM
... The modern science that encompasses "evolution" is not word-for-word the science that Darwin described... Parts of purely Darwinian evolution are wrong... This is something I don't understand, unless it is intentionally used as a dodge by creationists/IDers. ...

I think you have it. Darwin provides an easy target and a red herring for creationists and IDers.

Darwin is seen by all as the "founder" of evolution. If Darwin can be discredited, then evolution is also discredited. Darwin did make mistakes and did not explain everything, so it's easy to discredit him. (Especially if you ignore the facts that he developed his theory almost 150 years ago and in what amounted to a scientific vacuum -- that's what happens when you're the first -- and that the errors and gaps in his works have been nicely handled by the current theory.)

HenrikOlsen
2005-Dec-28, 05:42 AM
(Especially if you ignore the facts that he developed his theory almost 150 years ago and in what amounted to a scientific vacuum -- that's what happens when you're the first -- and that the errors and gaps in his works have been nicely handled by the current theory.)
Darwin working in a scientific vacuum is a common misconception about the time.
If you actually read his books, you'll see that he definitely wasn't working in a vacuum, he uses extensive references to other scientists of the time, most of evolution was actually part of accepted science, the main revolution he came up with was the idea that species self select through competition.
That species changed, even into other species, was actually accepted knowledge at the time(amongst scientists), what he added was a mechanism for that change that didn't need a god to control it.

Gillianren
2005-Dec-28, 07:26 AM
Heck, Darwin's own grandfather is also one of the ancestors of evolution theory.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Dec-28, 01:10 PM
Darwin is seen by all as the "founder" of evolution. If Darwin can be discredited, then evolution is also discredited. Darwin did make mistakes and did not explain everything, so it's easy to discredit him.Which really amounts to an ad hominem.

jrkeller
2005-Dec-28, 02:27 PM
I put no, but I do own both books.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Dec-28, 02:46 PM
Then years later, in the ‘90s, I finally read “The Origin of Species,” “The Descent of Man”, and “Mein Kampf,” in that sequence, during the course of about a year, and then, all of a sudden, I understood “Mein Kampf” and why it was thought of in Germany in the 1930s as being extremely modern, historical, and socially and politically relevant to the great new modern world that had aeroplanes, blimps, fast trains, cars, the Autobahn superhighway, early rockets, the new media of radio and movies, and the early beginnings of TV.

I was shocked and started by how much Hitler relied upon and promoted Darwinist beliefs in the first half of his book. Then I began to wonder what else I had missed, and I began to study that Darwinist era more and I discovered the now-hushed-up “science” of “eugenics”. Wow, what a disaster that turned out to be. The first half of “Mein Kampf” basically contained Galton’s eugenics theory (which Galton derived from Darwin’s theory) applied to a “modern” nation. I was amazed at how many other old pre-Hitler eugenics books I was able to find, published in the US and in Britain, before the 1930s. This stuff was so popular in the 1890 to 1910 era, Hitler must have learned about it in school. The subject was surely included among the “latest science theory” discussions in university student union buildings all over Europe back in those days. Nietzsche probably learned about it in school and he based some of his philosophy on it. H.G. Wells wrote several science books that included chapters glorifying eugenics. It was an old well-developed and widely-practiced theory by the time Hitler got his mitts on it.Social darwinism. (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?p=609667&highlight=social+darwinism#post609667) Should not be confused with the biological theory of evolution (Darwin's original, or its updates).

Jim
2005-Dec-28, 04:36 PM
Originally Posted by Jim
(Especially if you ignore the facts that he developed his theory almost 150 years ago and in what amounted to a scientific vacuum -- that's what happens when you're the first -- and that the errors and gaps in his works have been nicely handled by the current theory.)

Darwin working in a scientific vacuum is a common misconception about the time.
If you actually read his books, you'll see that he definitely wasn't working in a vacuum, he uses extensive references to other scientists of the time, most of evolution was actually part of accepted science, the main revolution he came up with was the idea that species self select through competition.
That species changed, even into other species, was actually accepted knowledge at the time(amongst scientists), what he added was a mechanism for that change that didn't need a god to control it.

Sorry, the reference was intended to be that he lacked full knowledge/understanding of genetics... DNA, mutations, dominant traits.

Sure, evolution in some form was actually pretty widely accepted. Heck, folks had been breeding animals and plants for specific traits for some time, an application of evolutionary theory before there was a theory to apply. But, they didn't know how it worked.

Darwin attempted to explain it, but he lacked all the details needed to do a complete job.

Sam5
2005-Dec-28, 07:45 PM
I don’t have any objections to basic evolution theory. But I do have some problems with Darwin’s attitudes toward women and non-white people. His books claimed they were inferior to white males. This was not a good thing for the world of “science” to promote, and its frequent promotion over many decades eventually led to many genocide disasters in the 20th Century.

This thread is about Darwin’s books and the 19th Century theory contained in his books. That’s what I responded to. The eugenics concept came from the Darwin books and was promoted by his cousin Francis Galton. This theory evolved into a “modern” human biology theory in the early 20th Century that became quite a fad. “Undesirable” people were sterilized by government agencies in many countries to keep them from breeding. The following quotes are from the high school textbook “A Civic Biology”, by Hunter, 1914. This was taught to American kids in their public schools:

“Personal Hygiene. In the first place, good health is the one
greatest asset in life. We may be born with a poor bodily machine,
but if we learn to recognize its defects and care for it properly,
we may make it do its required work effectively. If certain muscles
are poorly developed, then by proper exercise we may make them
stronger. If our eyes have some defect, we can have it remedied
by wearing glasses. If certain drugs or alcohol lower the efficiency
of the machine, we can avoid their use. With proper care a poorly
developed body may be improved and do effective work.

Eugenics. When people marry there are certain things that
the individual as well as the race should demand. The most
important of these is freedom from germ diseases which might be
handed down to the offspring. Tuberculosis, that dread white
plague which is still responsible for almost one seventh of all
deaths, epilepsy, and feeble-mindedness are handicaps which it
is not only unfair but criminal to hand down to posterity. The
science of being well born is called eugenics.

---------

Parasitism and its Cost to Society. Hundreds of families
such as those described above exist to-day, spreading disease,
immorality, and crime to all parts of this country. The cost to
society of such families is very severe. Just as certain animals
or plants become parasitic on other plants or animals, these families
have become parasitic on society. They not only do harm to others
by corrupting, stealing, or spreading disease, but they are actually
protected and cared for by the state out of public money. Largely
for them the poorhouse and the asylum exist, They take from
society, but they give nothing in return. They are true parasites.

The Remedy. If such people were lower animals, we would
probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity
will not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the
sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing
intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and
degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried success-
fully in Europe and are now meeting with success in this country.”

The idea of just "killing them off" was actually debated by some doctors and government officials around the world, early in the 20th Century.

Hitler’s eugenics plan was merely a drastic extension of the already-established eugenics theory of the 1930s. This was a tremendous disaster of the 20th Century.

Tim Thompson
2005-Dec-28, 09:09 PM
I voted for "I Haven't read any", which is neither true nor false, but the closest I could get to reality. I have read bit & pieces of several of Darwin's books. I have a great collection of 9 books, published in 1897; a bit frail with age, but still quite readable, aside from a few more recent reprints.

Being not a biologist, I have not been too directly involved in that part of the evolution debates, but I have done quite a bit along the lines of the age of the Earth. I'm afraid I have no respect for the idea that the Earth could be 10,000 years old, or anything remotely close to it.

Tim Thompson
2005-Dec-28, 09:17 PM
Heck, Darwin's own grandfather is also one of the ancestors of evolution theory.
And his son, George Darwin (http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Darwin.html) (1845 - 1912) was perhaps the most influential geophysicist of his time. He was the first to adopt a "modern", mathematical approach to the study of the Earth-moon system, and was even President of the Royal Astronomical Society.