Was There A Darwinian Revolution


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Version given at American Humanist Association annual meeting, Tempe, 6/6/09

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  • 1809 – Zoological Philosophy published – first full worked theory of evolution
  • 12th Century v Blake (18th Cent)
  • What here is “challengable”?
  • Common thread of replacing religion in public life with scientific rationalism. Science has somehow “disproved” religion.
  • Long gestation of 1830’s to 1930’s …
  • Was There A Darwinian Revolution

    1. John M. Lynch Barrett Honors College & School of Life Sciences
    2. A “total suspension of judgement is here our only reasonable resource.” Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779)
    3. 1858 was not “marked by any of those striking discoveries which at once revolutionize, so to speak, the department of science on which they bear.” Presidential Address, Linnaean Society
    4. quot;When the ideas advanced by me in this volume, or when analogous views on the origin of species are generally admitted, we can dimly foresee that there will be a considerable revolution in natural historyquot;
    5. “You are the greatest Revolutionist in natural history this century, if not of all centuries.” Letter to CD, 21st Nov „59
    6. The detection of intelligent design “is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton & Einstein, Lavoisier & Schrödinger, Pasteur & Darwin.” Darwin‟s Black Box, 1996, p. 233.
    7.  What was before?  What happened?  What was after?  How quickly did the change happen?  Where was there a revolution?
    8. Implications Mechanism Pathway Fact
    9. “[C]hange in the properties of populations of organisms or groups of such populations, over the course of generations … Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportions of different forms of a gene within a population, such as the alleles that determine the different human blood types, to the alterations that led from the earliest organisms to dinosaurs, bees, snapdragons, and humans.” Douglas J. Futuyma (1998) Evolutionary Biology 3rd ed., p.4
    10. ORGANIC LIFE beneath the shoreless waves Was born and nurs'd in Ocean's pearly caves; First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass, Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass; These, as successive generations bloom, New powers acquire, and larger limbs assume; Whence countless groups of vegetation spring, And breathing realms of fin, and feet, and wing
    11. Limited Variation Speciation due to Environment
    12.  Ifthere are variations, and  If these are inherited, and  If one variant is more suited to some task that the others, and  Ifthat task directly affects survival and therefore reproduction,  Thenselection will result in evolutionary change over time  If the selective pressure is applied over time.
    13.  Two essays: On Upon Single Vision with Two Eyes; The Other on Dew…and An Account of a Female of the White Race…Part of Whose Skin Resembles That of a Negro…By the Late W.C. Wells…with a Memoir of His Life, Written by Himself.  Darwin wrote “In this paper he [Wells] distinctly recognizes the principle of natural selection, and this is the first recognition which has been indicated…” (4th edition, 1866)
    14.  Appendix to Naval Timber and Arboriculture  Claims priority in 1860 letter to Gardeners Chronicle  Darwin acknowledges this.
    15.  “An Attempt to Classify the „Varieties‟ of Animals, with Observations on the Marked Seasonal and Other Changes Which Naturally Take Place in Various British Species, and Which Do Not Constitute Varieties“ Magazine of Natural History  Natural selection working to preserve type and essence, i.e. selection as a negative force.
    16.  Not in originating natural selection  But in seeing what natural selection was potentially capable of doing
    17. Instinct Classification Fossil Record Natural Selection Embryology Morphology Geographic Distribution
    18. 1837 Notebooks on Transmutation 1842 Pencil Sketch Private 1844 Essay 1856 Natural Selection 1858 Linnean Society paper Public 1859 Origin of Species
    19. 1859Origin of Species 1870‟s Rise of Neo-Lamarckianism 1899Bumpus‟ evidence for nat. seln. 1900Re-discovery of Mendel 1930‟s “The Modern Synthesis” 1953Crick & Watson‟s Nature paper The “Genetic Revolution”
    20. “Descent with modification through natural selection”  Transmutation of Species  „Struggle‟ with biosphere & other organisms  A theory of heredity  Natural Selection  Sexual Selection
    21. We have a professional discipline and an entirely convincing, naturalistic explanation of the design-like appearance of the natural world.
    22. Natural Selection Economy of Tree Thinking Nature Gradual Genealogical Change Classification Darwin Biogeographic Coevolution Distribution Sexual Selective Selection Extinction Deep Time
    23. Tree Thinking
    24. 7mya 6mya 5mya 4mya 3mya 2mya 1mya Now Kenyanthropus platyops Homo erectus Homo ergaster A. garhi Homo “Archaic” rudolfensis Homo sapiens Ardipithecus Ardipithecus Australopithecus kadabba ramidus afarensis Sahelanthropus tchadensis Homo habilis Modern Humans Australopithecus anamensis Australopithecus Orrorin africanus tugenesis Paranthropus robustus Neandertals Paranthropus aethiopicus Paranthropus boisei
    25. “Darwin had the luck to please everybody with an axe to grind.” Back to Methuselah 1921
    26. “The growth of a large business is merely the survival of the fittest … This is not an evil tendency in business. It is merely the working out of a law of nature and a law of God.” John D. Rockefeller, jr.
    27. 2008 - 2009
    28. “Evolution had become respectable. No revolution took place, no pyrotechnics, just a quiet change at the top – a palace coup. Society would never be the same.” James Moore
    29. “All changed, chang ed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.”