Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Chuck!

I know I am a little bit late but today is the 198th Birthday of Charles Darwin. In these times of controversy regarding Religion vs. Science and "Where we come from?", maybe the man himself needs a little more mentioning. Info on home, some borrowed from Wikipedia :

Charles Robert Darwin (12 February 180919 April 1882) was an eminent English naturalist who achieved lasting fame by convincing the scientific community that species develop over time from a common origin. His theories explaining this phenomenon through natural and sexual selection are central to the modern understanding of evolution as the unifying theory of the life sciences, essential in biology and important in other disciplines such as anthropology, psychology and philosophy.

Darwin developed his interest in natural history while studying first medicine, then theology, at university. His five-year voyage on the Beagle established him as a geologist whose observations and theorising supported Charles Lyell's uniformitarian ideas, and the subsequent publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author. Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, he investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of natural selection in 1838. He had seen others attacked for such heretical ideas and confided only in his closest friends while carrying out extensive research to meet anticipated objections. However, in 1858, Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay describing a similar theory, forcing early joint publication of both of their theories.

His 1859 book, On the Origin of Species, established evolution by common descent as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature. Human origins and features without obvious utility such as beautiful bird plumage were examined in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, followed by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. His research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final book, he examined earthworms and their effect on soil.

In recognition of Darwin's pre-eminence, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to John Herschel and Isaac Newton.

The most famous and controversial part being, the book, On the Origin of Species :

Charles Darwin's Origin of Species (publ. 1859) is a pivotal work in scientific literature and arguably the pivotal work in evolutionary biology. The book's full title is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. It introduced the theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. It was controversial because it contradicted religious beliefs which underlay the then current theories of biology. Darwin's book was the culmination of evidence he had accumulated on the voyage of the Beagle in the 1830s and added to through continuing investigations and experiments since his return.

The book is readable even for the non-specialist and attracted widespread interest on publication. The book was controversial, and generated much discussion on scientific, philosophical, and religious grounds. The scientific theory of evolution has itself evolved since Darwin first presented it, but natural selection remains the most widely accepted scientific model of how species evolve. Recently, American creationists have used the fact the Darwin's theory is "only a theory" to revive an at-times bitter and ill-informed creation-evolution controversy.

Okay heres the thing. I was raised Catholic and still consider myself practicing. I went to CCD, and learned creation as taught in the NAB. Also I am a proud graduate of the public school system of Lowell, MA, where while I was told I could believe whatever I want, I was taught Evolution as part of the science curriculum. And it seems to me thats exactly the way it should be. Evolution and Creationism can both be taught, in different places for different reasons. Schools that teach science logically teach evolution based on our boy Darwin's Natural Selection because its the theory that can be supported empiracally. And thats the part that I dont understand, why there are arguments considering alternate theories that ave no empirical evidence to support them as SCIENCE. the idea behind science is:

"in the broadest sense, refers to any system of objective knowledge. In a more restricted sense, science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on the scientific method, as well as to the organized body of knowledge gained through such research."

So, simply put, if you have no concrete evidence, the theory is not scientific, and thus should not be taught in SCIENCE class in public schools (private schools are a whole different bag of worms). Now if some new evidence, or a radical but reasonable new interpretation of the evidenc comes along, logically proving Creation as the bible writes it is scientifically valid, we can talk, until then I think we shall stick with what the evidence points to. And no I don't hold out much hope for the scientific viability of the Creationism Museum.

Thats not to say that I think Religion or Religious tradition is bad or that it should not be taught. I just don't think school science classes are the place. Thats what CCD is for. In a religious context its a great help to hear that GOD created us, and that He is the one who seperated us from any other animal on the planet (a possibly egocentric view shared by both science and religion, the human mind is the pinnacle of life), and it eases the mind of some who do not like the idea we come from monkeys. It can solve the answer to the question "Why am I here?" that burns in many a person soul. But until there is concrete evidence otherwise, leave "How did I get here?" to Darwin and the Monkeys. . .


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