Saturday, 18 August 2007

The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

Not what I was expecting at all.

Here we have a very readable if thorough going explanation of his theory of descent with modification through variation and natural selection. I have seen comments such as dry and stodgy but did not find this to be the case to any great extent.

I must confess to skimming a total of about three pages out of nearly five hundred. I did this because I had already got the point and he was listing in minute detail the implications of this or that on his famous "tree of life diagram" a to a' etc. etc.

Apart from the exposition of such a simple theory the two main things I enjoyed most about the book where as follows;

Firstly, just how much evidence in favour of evolution he did not have an inkling about. He bases his theory on how it explains the geographical distribution of life on the earth, variation, fertility, vestigial organs, eyes on cave dwellers, webbed feet on mountain ducks etc. It is therefore surprising just how much he got right and how little has since been shown to be wrong. Remember he had no idea of DNA or the molecular side of reproduction at all and yet he predicts a good deal of it.

Secondly, his forays into experiment. Ranging from the counting of plant species in cleared ground, measuring and comparison of greyhound and bulldog puppies and adult dogs, to the immersal of seeds in sea-water and so on.

The book is written for the lay audience and should be accessible, with a little patience, to most.

Despite what many Creationists have told me there is nothing I could find about the origin of life, support for the Nazi's, reasons in favour of the Holocaust or the futility of existence at all.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

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