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Theory of Evolution

The Origin of Species


Darwin's Origin of Species (1859) gives some poof for his version of universal transformation, or evolution.  It is important to examine Darwin's own thought and how he intended to prove the reality of evolution.

In his Recapitulation, at the end of Origin of Species, Darwin states that the whole book is an argument for evolution.  Darwin notes that all must admit some facts, such as variations in nature and struggle in nature.  These, of course, are the foundation of his theory.  Nevertheless, there are some formidable objections, according to Darwin.  Darwin begins by noting that not all the gradations between the simplest organism and the perfectly adapted organism are known, but that varieties of domestic animals are fertile due to gradual development of changes.  Secondly, geographic distribution of the different species of the same genus have evolved over long periods of time, although we cannot find the intermediate species in any intermediate zone.  Thirdly, the fossil record is imperfect because our investigation has just  begun and the geological processess are not fully explained.  Fourth,  the lack of fossils below the Cambrian level is a problem, but the continents may not have had the same position.  Although some objections are serious, they are not sufficient to overthrow the theory of descent with subsequent modifications. 

In a third section of the Recapitulation of the Origin of Species, Darwin notes that the theory of evolution is not a problem for either science or religion.  Concerning science, Darwin notes that other scientific theories had formidible opponents.  For example, what is the essence of gravity?  Although no one really knows its essence, no one denies gravity now.  Further, the theory of evolution is not against relegion.  It would be just as easy for God to create a few of the original forms as it would be for God to intervene in the continuous creation of species.  

The second major section of the Recapitulation in Origin of Species is twenty proofs that Darwin gives in favor of evolution, as follows:  From domestication, man can influence species, so why not nature?  From animals, like the strongest male, selecting mates, species can evolve.  From varietions in varieties and species, there is no limit to the power of natrual selection.  From the fact that there is little demarcation between variations of variety and species, variations can slowly evolve.  From the natural selection of the most divergent species of a genus, which supplants the older species.  From nature prodigal in variety, but limited in innovation, most species become extinct, which is hard for creationism to explain.  From vestigial organs, which creationism cannot explain.  From lack of beauty in nature, explained by evolution but not by creationism.  From competition, which evolution explains but creationism does not.  Eleven more facts are explained by evolution.  Creationism does not explain this large class of facts.

In the fourth section of the Recapitulation of Origin of Species, Darwin considers the cause which impells many of his contemporaries to adhere to a doctrine of immutability of species.  The first cause for view that species are immutable is the belief that the physical world is of short duration.  However, the study of new developments in geology show the world to be of long duration.  Secondly, species seem immutable because the steps between species are not seen.  However, developments in the research of the fossil record may correct this.  Thirdly, Darwin notes that his opponents use phrases like "plan of creation" and "unity of design" which are a logical class of argument called "petitio principii", or begging the question, since such and argument states as a fact the very thing that is to be proved.

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