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Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

February 5, 2013

Being a biology major I have spent the past four years hearing about Charles Darwin and his great contributions to science. It seemed to me that belief in his theories and esteem for his intelligence were engrained in every mind for as long as we can remember. I was surprisingly proved wrong when I spoke to a friend of mine about reading Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”.

My friend stated that he was skeptical abut Darwin’s theories. His skepticism didn’t stem from disparities between evolution and religious beliefs as he is an atheist. He felt “a little skeptical because [he doesn’t] know a damn thing about [Darwin’s theories].” This lack of knowledge about a man who I believe to be one of the most influential changers of the scientific world made me curious what non-science majors know believe. I usually tend to avoid scientific discussions because generally they end up being disputes of religion, but I was curious what my peers knew about evolution and why they did or did not believe in natural selection.
I watched a special on PBS called “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” (links are provided below) in which Darwin’s life and research was reenacted. From this perspective it seemed that Darwin also shied away from religious disputes and was afraid that the publishing of his theories would cause his family to be outcast. I read many excerpts from Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” and found nothing but logical and understandable reasoning and evidence for natural selection. In all my readings and knowledge of Darwin and disputes of his theories only two appeared multiple times. The first being that natural selection and creationism contrasted one another, and the second being that if evolution were true that natural selection is not a complex enough process to explain it.

As I questioned my friends from different majors (English, Linguistics, Communication and Journalism, Business, and Engineering) I found that while everyone had heard of Darwin, they didn’t know much about him or his theories. Creationism was the biggest dispute against evolution, but those who stated they didn’t believe in evolution stated that a form of natural selection occurred when God chose the environments an animal should live in. Those who agreed with natural selection said it seemed like the most reasonable theory, but “what else is there?” None of my conversations were long or deep, I was merely curious and didn’t want to argue.

I was happy to find that everyone else I spoke to had a small idea of Darwin’s contributions to science; even if they don’t believe in evolution per say, natural selection still seemed relatively evident to them therefore Darwin’s theories still seem logical. It was an interesting conversation to have with my friends and I got some insight into a scientific world from a non scientific point of view. I’d like to talk to my skeptical friend a bit more, perhaps I’ll have a follow up blog if I do.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYnmJ_IIIIw&feature=youtu.be
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7j8QL3Z6qg&feature=youtu.be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RL5oAEX4B5E&feature=youtu.beImage

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