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Reasons to be Cheerful

Welcome to 2009 - Darwin Year
2009 sees the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work, ‘On the Origin of Species’

Contemplate a tangled bank,
clothed with many plants of many kinds,
with birds singing on the bushes,
with various insects flitting about,
with worms crawling through the damp earth:
these elaborately constructed forms
have all been produced by laws
acting around us.
Thus, the war of nature,
from famine and death,
the production of higher animals
directly follows.
There is grandeur in this view of life:
whilst the planet has gone
cycling on according to
the fixed law of gravity,
from so simple a beginning
endless forms most beautiful and
most wonderful have been
and are being

- Charles Darwin

Of course Darwin wasn't the only important liberator born on 12th February 1809, there was some American Illinois Lawyer who we will also be bored of by the years end, but he is the most important because he freed our minds from medieval superstition which still has its deadly hold over vast swarths of humanity.


ha ha...

Darwin's theory of evolution is very good - but it does have some holes.

For example, how did life begin? A chemical soup and electricity? We can wait for that one to be demonstrated in a lab.

Survival of the fittest? I'm still not convinced. When one species is stronger it eliminates the competition. What nature has is enormous variety with species living in balance.

Now Man demonstrates evolution and survival of the fittest. Under Man other species are eliminated. No bears, wolves or dodos. Every Arab country has hunted to extinction all wildlife except goats and camels. Even sparrows disappear because hedgerows are uneconomical for farmers.

No evolution is human design. Nature is something else and Darwin did not have the answer.

"Darwin's theory of evolution is very good". I'm sure he is most grateful for this concession.

"Survival of the fittest? I'm still not convinced. When one species is stronger it eliminates the competition." Oh, good grief. This is not what natural selection is about, it refers to changes within a species over time that make those members with particular characteristics better suited to the environment in which they live. It has nothing to do with one species killing another (except in the sense that certain characteristics, e.g. colour, better protect some members of a species from their natural predators) and does not refer to the strong killing the weak (rather the better adapted out surviving the less well adapted).

Darwin's theory has withstood 150 years of vigorous examination and opposition yet remains by far and away the best theory we have of how life has developed on earth. A theory is not falsified because it does not explain everything due to gaps in our knowledge (if we waited for such theories we'd never achieve any advances), theories are falsified when observations or experiments contradict the theory. In the last 150 years advances in science, particularly in microbilogy, have added weight to the theory.

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