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Thread: Evolutional Debate

  1. #1 Evolutional Debate 
    Forum Freshman IAlexN's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I've been giving an assignment that mainly focus on the debate in the University of Oxford back in the 1860 the 30th of June. However, there's one question that I'm struggling with and I would appreciate some support.

    It basically says: how might the debate have changed the perspective of science and the society we live in today?

    The thing, though it is that first of I've not been able to find any information if there were any greatly influential effects due to this debate, and that would further have over many years changed our perspective of science and our society.

    Darwin's theory of evolution has off course influenced science greatly, but I don't think one should attribute that influence to the debate, or am I wrong?

    Thank you


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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    the funny thing is that all participants left the debate in the conviction that they had carried the day and had dealt the opposing party a mortal blow

    since that debate is still not over amongst the general public, you could claim that it's still too early to tell who won the debate

    as far as science was concerned the debate was being won elsewhere, the way paradigms usually shift : the old paradigm dies off as the old guard fades and the young guns tend to stick with the ideas of the new paradigm

    single debates as the one under discussion make good television, but rarely have the dramatic effect claimed for them


    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman IAlexN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    the funny thing is that all participants left the debate in the conviction that they had carried the day and had dealt the opposing party a mortal blow

    since that debate is still not over amongst the general public, you could claim that it's still too early to tell who won the debate
    Interesting, thank you.

    However, this assignment tells me to reflect and analyze how it has changed the perspective of science and the society, and it's drives me literary "nuts", because as far as I understand the outcome of the debate was nothing astonishing, and the influence rather microscopic.

    Therefore, what may I focus my reflection on? Might there be something, which this debate has triggered or an event it has lead to?
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    you could say that the debate had put in sharp perspective how in the battle between religion and science for an explanation of the natural world, science was starting to challenge the authority of the church in a public forum

    people like Huxley and Hooker were part of a new breed of professional scientists (rather than dilettante amateurs), and they wanted their science to be taken seriously on its own merit, whether bishops held a contrary view or not
    especially if that bishop had a reputation for powerful but ultimately empty rhetoric

    as an interesting footnote, when Samuel Wilberforce died in 1873 after falling off his horse, Huxley is supposed to have quipped : "for once the bishop's mind and reality came into contact with one another, and the result was fatal" - that's how deeply the rancour ran between the 2 sides of the debate
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  6. #5  
    Forum Freshman IAlexN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    you could say that the debate had put in sharp perspective how in the battle between religion and science for an explanation of the natural world, science was starting to challenge the authority of the church in a public forum

    people like Huxley and Hooker were part of a new breed of professional scientists (rather than dilettante amateurs), and they wanted their science to be taken seriously on its own merit, whether bishops held a contrary view or not
    especially if that bishop had a reputation for powerful but ultimately empty rhetoric

    as an interesting footnote, when Samuel Wilberforce died in 1873 after falling off his horse, Huxley is supposed to have quipped : "for once the bishop's mind and reality came into contact with one another, and the result was fatal" - that's how deeply the rancour ran between the 2 sides of the debate
    Thank you, just what I needed to get started.
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    I think you're quite right

    Given the political, economic, and social setting at the time of the debate—religious orthodoxy was widespread but weakening, Europe was in the throes of socio-economic change (particularly Germany and France) and undergoing political conflict, radicals argued for the overturn of aristocracy—there is no evidence to suggest that the 1860 debate had any significant impact on society.

    In my view (this goes against primary reason-of-being of your assignment), the social, political, and economic setting of the time provided the fertile conditions for the development of new social and political ideas such as social Darwinism, the abolition of slavery in America, spread of the liberal movement in Europe, etc...

    Again, in my view, the debate was seized upon and used (much later), much like propaganda is used, to promote the views of …well…..people that knew far more than clergymen…..on a side note…..participants account of the debate were sometimes replaced to embellish reality, which is typical of propaganda

    However, it is now seen (post-occurrence) as the key moment when humans other than “eccentrics”, accepted evolution as an alternative to religion. In reality, the change occurred over a long period of time, and involved socio-political changes which predate the debate.

    If the debate marked anything, it marked the beginning of a bitter three year long dispute between Owen and Huxley.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    as a footnote about Owen - it is widely accepted that it was Owen who primed Wilberforce for the debate
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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