Creation or Evolution?: Origin of Species in Light of Sciences Limitations and Historical Records

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Darwin was hard at work on the manuscript for his "big book" on Natural Selection , when on 18 June he received a parcel from Wallace, who stayed on the Maluku Islands Ternate and Gilolo. It enclosed twenty pages describing an evolutionary mechanism, a response to Darwin's recent encouragement, with a request to send it on to Lyell if Darwin thought it worthwhile. The mechanism was similar to Darwin's own theory.


While Darwin considered Wallace's idea to be identical to his concept of natural selection, historians have pointed out differences. Darwin described natural selection as being analogous to the artificial selection practised by animal breeders, and emphasised competition between individuals; Wallace drew no comparison to selective breeding , and focused on ecological pressures that kept different varieties adapted to local conditions.

Soon after the meeting, Darwin decided to write "an abstract of my whole work" in the form of one or more papers to be published by the Linnean Society , but was concerned about "how it can be made scientific for a Journal, without giving facts, which would be impossible. By early October, he began to "expect my abstract will run into a small volume, which will have to be published separately.

By mid March Darwin's abstract had reached the stage where he was thinking of early publication; Lyell suggested the publisher John Murray , and met with him to find if he would be willing to publish. On 28 March Darwin wrote to Lyell asking about progress, and offering to give Murray assurances "that my Book is not more un -orthodox, than the subject makes inevitable. Murray's response was favourable, and a very pleased Darwin told Lyell on 30 March that he would "send shortly a large bundle of M.

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He bowed to Murray's objection to "abstract" in the title, though he felt it excused the lack of references, but wanted to keep "natural selection" which was "constantly used in all works on Breeding", and hoped "to retain it with Explanation, somewhat as thus",— Through Natural Selection or the preservation of favoured races. On 5 April, Darwin sent Murray the first three chapters, and a proposal for the book's title. On the Origin of Species was first published on Thursday 24 November , priced at fifteen shillings with a first printing of copies.

In total, 1, copies were printed but after deducting presentation and review copies, and five for Stationers' Hall copyright, around 1, copies were available for sale.

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The third edition came out in , with a number of sentences rewritten or added and an introductory appendix, An Historical Sketch of the Recent Progress of Opinion on the Origin of Species , [85] while the fourth in had further revisions. The fifth edition, published on 10 February , incorporated more changes and for the first time included the phrase " survival of the fittest ", which had been coined by the philosopher Herbert Spencer in his Principles of Biology In January , George Jackson Mivart 's On the Genesis of Species listed detailed arguments against natural selection, and claimed it included false metaphysics.

The sixth edition was published by Murray on 19 February as The Origin of Species , with "On" dropped from the title. Darwin had told Murray of working men in Lancashire clubbing together to buy the 5th edition at fifteen shillings and wanted it made more widely available; the price was halved to 7 s 6 d by printing in a smaller font. It includes a glossary compiled by W. Book sales increased from 60 to per month. In the United States, botanist Asa Gray , an American colleague of Darwin, negotiated with a Boston publisher for publication of an authorised American version, but learnt that two New York publishing firms were already planning to exploit the absence of international copyright to print Origin.

In a May letter, Darwin mentioned a print run of 2, copies, but it is not clear if this referred to the first printing only as there were four that year. The book was widely translated in Darwin's lifetime, but problems arose with translating concepts and metaphors, and some translations were biased by the translator's own agenda. He welcomed the distinguished elderly naturalist and geologist Heinrich Georg Bronn , but the German translation published in imposed Bronn's own ideas, adding controversial themes that Darwin had deliberately omitted.

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Bronn translated "favoured races" as "perfected races", and added essays on issues including the origin of life, as well as a final chapter on religious implications partly inspired by Bronn's adherence to Naturphilosophie. Darwin corresponded with Royer about a second edition published in and a third in , but he had difficulty getting her to remove her notes and was troubled by these editions.

Page ii contains quotations by William Whewell and Francis Bacon on the theology of natural laws , [] harmonising science and religion in accordance with Isaac Newton 's belief in a rational God who established a law-abiding cosmos. WHEN on board HMS Beagle , as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent.

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These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species—that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers. He mentions his years of work on his theory, and the arrival of Wallace at the same conclusion, which led him to "publish this Abstract" of his incomplete work. He outlines his ideas, and sets out the essence of his theory:. As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected.

From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form. Starting with the third edition, Darwin prefaced the introduction with a sketch of the historical development of evolutionary ideas. Chapter I covers animal husbandry and plant breeding , going back to ancient Egypt. Darwin discusses contemporary opinions on the origins of different breeds under cultivation to argue that many have been produced from common ancestors by selective breeding. However, for Darwin the small changes were most important in evolution.

In Chapter II, Darwin specifies that the distinction between species and varieties is arbitrary, with experts disagreeing and changing their decisions when new forms were found. He concludes that "a well-marked variety may be justly called an incipient species" and that "species are only strongly marked and permanent varieties". Darwin and Wallace made variation among individuals of the same species central to understanding the natural world.

In Chapter III, Darwin asks how varieties "which I have called incipient species" become distinct species, and in answer introduces the key concept he calls " natural selection "; [] in the fifth edition he adds, "But the expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer , of the Survival of the Fittest , is more accurate, and is sometimes equally convenient. Owing to this struggle for life, any variation, however slight and from whatever cause proceeding, if it be in any degree profitable to an individual of any species, in its infinitely complex relations to other organic beings and to external nature, will tend to the preservation of that individual, and will generally be inherited by its offspring I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection, in order to mark its relation to man's power of selection.

He notes that both A. Darwin emphasizes that he used the phrase " struggle for existence " in "a large and metaphorical sense, including dependence of one being on another"; he gives examples ranging from plants struggling against drought to plants competing for birds to eat their fruit and disseminate their seeds.

He describes the struggle resulting from population growth: "It is the doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms. Chapter IV details natural selection under the "infinitely complex and close-fitting He remarks that the artificial selection practised by animal breeders frequently produced sharp divergence in character between breeds, and suggests that natural selection might do the same, saying:. But how, it may be asked, can any analogous principle apply in nature?

I believe it can and does apply most efficiently, from the simple circumstance that the more diversified the descendants from any one species become in structure, constitution, and habits, by so much will they be better enabled to seize on many and widely diversified places in the polity of nature, and so be enabled to increase in numbers. Historians have remarked that here Darwin anticipated the modern concept of an ecological niche. Darwin proposes sexual selection , driven by competition between males for mates, to explain sexually dimorphic features such as lion manes, deer antlers, peacock tails, bird songs, and the bright plumage of some male birds.

Natural selection was expected to work very slowly in forming new species, but given the effectiveness of artificial selection, he could "see no limit to the amount of change, to the beauty and infinite complexity of the coadaptations between all organic beings, one with another and with their physical conditions of life, which may be effected in the long course of time by nature's power of selection". Using a tree diagram and calculations, he indicates the "divergence of character" from original species into new species and genera.

He describes branches falling off as extinction occurred, while new branches formed in "the great Tree of life In Darwin's time there was no agreed-upon model of heredity ; [] in Chapter I Darwin admitted, "The laws governing inheritance are quite unknown. In later editions of Origin , Darwin expanded the role attributed to the inheritance of acquired characteristics.

Darwin also admitted ignorance of the source of inheritable variations, but speculated they might be produced by environmental factors.

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Breeding of animals and plants showed related varieties varying in similar ways, or tending to revert to an ancestral form, and similar patterns of variation in distinct species were explained by Darwin as demonstrating common descent. He recounted how Lord Morton's mare apparently demonstrated telegony , offspring inheriting characteristics of a previous mate of the female parent, and accepted this process as increasing the variation available for natural selection.

More detail was given in Darwin's book on The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication , which tried to explain heredity through his hypothesis of pangenesis. Although Darwin had privately questioned blending inheritance , he struggled with the theoretical difficulty that novel individual variations would tend to blend into a population. However, inherited variation could be seen, [] and Darwin's concept of selection working on a population with a range of small variations was workable.

Chapter VI begins by saying the next three chapters will address possible objections to the theory, the first being that often no intermediate forms between closely related species are found, though the theory implies such forms must have existed. As Darwin noted, "Firstly, why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms?

Why is not all nature in confusion, instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined? Another difficulty, related to the first one, is the absence or rarity of transitional varieties in time. Darwin commented that by the theory of natural selection "innumerable transitional forms must have existed," and wondered "why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth? The chapter then deals with whether natural selection could produce complex specialised structures, and the behaviours to use them, when it would be difficult to imagine how intermediate forms could be functional.

Darwin said:. Secondly, is it possible that an animal having, for instance, the structure and habits of a bat, could have been formed by the modification of some animal with wholly different habits? Can we believe that natural selection could produce, on the one hand, organs of trifling importance, such as the tail of a giraffe, which serves as a fly-flapper, and, on the other hand, organs of such wonderful structure, as the eye, of which we hardly as yet fully understand the inimitable perfection?

His answer was that in many cases animals exist with intermediate structures that are functional.

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He presented flying squirrels , and flying lemurs as examples of how bats might have evolved from non-flying ancestors. Darwin concludes: "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.

But I can find out no such case.

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In a section on "organs of little apparent importance", Darwin discusses the difficulty of explaining various seemingly trivial traits with no evident adaptive function, and outlines some possibilities such as correlation with useful features. He accepts that we "are profoundly ignorant of the causes producing slight and unimportant variations" which distinguish domesticated breeds of animals, [] and human races.

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He suggests that sexual selection might explain these variations: [] []. I might have adduced for this same purpose the differences between the races of man, which are so strongly marked; I may add that some little light can apparently be thrown on the origin of these differences, chiefly through sexual selection of a particular kind, but without here entering on copious details my reasoning would appear frivolous.

Chapter VII of the first edition addresses the evolution of instincts. His examples included two he had investigated experimentally: slave-making ants and the construction of hexagonal cells by honey bees. Darwin noted that some species of slave-making ants were more dependent on slaves than others, and he observed that many ant species will collect and store the pupae of other species as food. He thought it reasonable that species with an extreme dependency on slave workers had evolved in incremental steps.

He suggested that bees that make hexagonal cells evolved in steps from bees that made round cells, under pressure from natural selection to economise wax. Darwin concluded:.