Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection Essay

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More than a century after his death, and four generations after the publication of his chief work, "The Origin of Species", Charles Darwin may still be considered the most controversial scientist in the world. His name is synonymous with the debate that continues to swirl around the theory of evolution, a theory that deeply shook the Western view of humanity and its place in the world. We tend to speak simply of the theory of evolution, leaving off the explanatory phrase, "through natural selection." At most, perhaps, the general public has heard of "survival of the fittest" a poor phrase as far as I'm concerned, since fitness in everyday usage is associated with physical conditioning and athletic…show more content…
In the course of the eighteenth century the notion of progress, of gradual but relentless pursuit of betterment, began to take hold in western thought. It was only natural that the ideas of change and of progress should eventually be applied to the Great Chain of Being. The natural implication of a "dynamic" chain of being was a sort of tree of life, gradually sprouting upward from basic primordial ooze, branching outward into all the varied species on our fine planet, ending with, of course, eighteenth century Man. This could be called evolutionary, but it does not offer a theory of evolution, an order in which evolution took place. It was no longer acceptable to say "God did it". Therefor, if evolution was to ever become a science, a rational explanation had to be offered. Such an explanation was proposed by Jean Babtiste Lamarck toward the end of the eighteenth century, and Lamarck became best known for his pre-Darwin theory of evolution. According to Lamarck, the acquired characteristics of the parents could be handed down to their offspring. Suppose, to take the most over used example, that the first generations of giraffe had a neck of ordinary length. Because the lower branches of the trees they fed off were easily striped, these early giraffes stretched out their necks to reach higher branches. In doing
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