Notices
Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Darwin's On the origin of species

  1. #1 Darwin's On the origin of species 
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    68
    Hello all. Remit here. I'm an enthusiastic 17 year old, who is trying to break away from his parents heavy handed religious fundamentalism. I consider my parents to be anyone who will take the time to teach me a thing or two about truth and help me become intelligent.

    So, let's talk about Darwin's book, On the origin of species.

    After reading Chapter one, I can't say that I clearly understand what Darwin is talking about. But I think I'm at least on the right track.

    I encourage someone on this forum to be my teacher and point me in the right direction here.

    Chapter 1

    Variation under domestication

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darwin
    When we look to the individuals of the same variety or sub-variety of our older cultivated plants and animals, one of the first points which strikes us, is, that they generally differ much more from each other, than do the individuals of any one species or variety in a state of nature. When we reflect on the vast diversity of the plants and animals which ahve been cultivated, and which have varied during all ages under the most different climates and treatment, I think we are driven to conclude that this greater variablity is simply due to our domestic productions having been raised under conditions of life not so uniform as, and somewhat different from, those to which the parent-species have been exposed under nature. There is, also, I think, some probability in the view that this variability may be partly connected with excess of food. It seems pretty clear that organic beings must be exposed during several generations to the new conditions of life to cause any appreciable ammout of variation; and that when the organization has once begun to vary, it generally continues to vary for many generations.
    Ok, so I'm going break the above paragraph down into particular fragments that I feel uncertain about.

    For instance, fragment #1:

    When we look to the individuals of the same variety or sub-variety of our older cultivated plants and animals.....
    Ok, so the above may seem ridiculously basic, but I just want to confirm some examples about a variety in contrast to a sub-variety with someone.

    Correct me if I'm wrong:

    Poodles, as individuals, are of the same variety, yet, in contrast with the species of dogs as a whole, they should be considered a sub-variety.

    Boxer's, Bulldog's, and Chihuahua's are likewise sub-varieties comprising the overall variety of dogs.

    Likewise, humans are a variety, and caucasians, chinese, africans, etc, are sub-varieties.

    Finally, I just want to be clear about what Darwin means when he says 'cultivated plants and animals'.

    I take it for granted that he is talking about plants and animals that have been developed and modified in human captivity - like pigs, chickens, cows, cats, dogs, etc.

    Ok, now lets move on to fragment #2:

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darwin
    When we look to the individuals of the same variety or sub-variety of our older cultivated plants and animals, one of the first points which strikes us, is, that they generally differ much more from each other, than do the individuals of any one species or variety in a state of nature.
    Ok, so this is where it gets a bit tricky for me, mainly because I havent had much contact with farm animals growing up.

    But looking back on my experience, I suppose Darwin is right. Non-cultivated animals, like squirels, crows, deer, dolphins, lions, monkeys, all seem to look the same. There hardly seems to be much distinction.

    But then again, if you consider chickens or pigs on a farm, they all look same don't they?

    But when I think about domestic animals, it seems dogs and cats obviously vary quite extremly, with their color mainly, and often personality.

    In regards to wild plants, dandilions, timothy, daisy's, bull-rushes, do indeed appear identical. If there are differences it would be in size.

    However, pine trees are quite variable - their shapes vary quite a bit.

    As for domesticated plants - the potatoes I grew in my garden were incredibly variable, so many weird shapes. The beats, carrots, and cabage were likewise quite unique.

    Commentary on this from readers would be much appreciated.

    Fragment #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darwin
    When we reflect on the vast diversity of the plants and animals which have been cultivated, and which have varied during all ages under the most different climates and treatment, I think we are driven to conclude that this greater variablity is simply due to our domestic productions having been raised under conditions of life not so uniform as, and somewhat different from, those to which the parent-species have been exposed under nature.
    Ok, so in other words, removing a species members from their natural condition and confining these species members to breed in a different and less uniform condition, results in the offspring of these species members to have much greater variability.

    I find this strange.

    Let's see how the next fragment relates to what has just been said....

    Fragment #4

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darwin
    There is, also, I think, some probability in the view that this variability may be partly connected with excess of food. It seems pretty clear that organic beings must be exposed during several generations to the new conditions of life to cause any appreciable ammout of variation; and that when the organization has once begun to vary, it generally continues to vary for many generations.
    Ok, this is where my orientation is a bit shaky.

    Is he implying that animals eat more in captivity and this extra-eating, affects their reproductive system, causing greater variability?

    Ok, and here is the final fragment to finish the paragraph:

    Fragment # 5

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darwin
    No case is on record of a variable being ceasing to be variable under cultivation. Our oldest cultivated plants, such as wheat, still often yield new varieties: our oldest domesticated animals are still capable of rapid improvement or modification.
    So why is Darwin emphasizes this? Is it because his contemporaries, despite being open to the idea of evolution, had a tendency to conclude that humans, animals and plants were finished evolving?


    Anyhow, I think that's enough for starters.

    I'm hoping there are some people here who have given a good deal of thought to this first chapter, and/or the book as a whole.

    Comentary would be much, much appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Remit


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    68
    Actually, I don't know if my approach was a very good one. Maybe too bloated.

    How about I simplify the opening post:

    Does anyone here recall reading, Chapter 1 - Variation under domestication ?

    When it comes to understanding evolution, or at least the first chapter of Darwin's book, my confusion is related mainly to the factor of 'random variation'.

    It seems that, in Chapter 1, Darwin is implying that variation is very minimal when a species if functioning in its natural environment, but when you bring a species into captivity, it generally produces offspring that show a great deal more of variation.

    Am I on the right track here?


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    21
    ok, let me first say i think it's very admirable you're trying to learn these kinds of things, even though you've been brought up with your parents' "heavy-handed religious fundamentalism".

    My parents are christians, so a bit religious as well, but never that strict, so i had much room to think for myself. Still, I can imagine how a lot of people would find it hard to believe anything else, after hearing their whole lives how God made us all and that sort of things.

    but let's not turn this into a discussion about religion , you wanna learn about evolution...

    I've had the basics in school, but I have to say i've never read any part of Darwin's book. I've been taught the theories of course, but some of them are very outdated already, and if you really want to learn the current, modern views on evolution, i advise you to start reading newer books about it(i'll look some up for you if you want, my own books are more about general biology with a bit of evolution, so wouldn't recommend them)

    as I said before, i've never read the Origin of Species, so I won't be able to help you understand it any better, the fragments you've posted here are beyond my knowledge of his theories
    grtz.
    -FaTaL_eRRoR
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Forum Ph.D.
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    935
    Good for you for seeking out some truth and using your brain - but I just want to point out that the theory of evolution has changed since Darwin's day so keep that in mind while reading Origins.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Forum Ph.D.
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    792
    Yeah I love evolution & will eagerly read up about it but it would never be a priotrity of mine to read that book! I think it's more important historically today considering the progress & research done on evolution.

    You dont need to read the book to get a good idea of evolution.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Professor leohopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Dulwich, London, England
    Posts
    1,418
    Quote Originally Posted by Robbie
    Yeah I love evolution & will eagerly read up about it but it would never be a priotrity of mine to read that book! I think it's more important historically today considering the progress & research done on evolution.

    You dont need to read the book to get a good idea of evolution.
    Seconded. At the age of 17 I would definately not reccommend "On origin of species". There are pleanty of other books which are far easier to read that that one, and its not because of your age. I am 27, I have a copy, I have read one page of that copy and now it is gathering dust on my bookshelf. It is very heavy reading !! And not because its too scientific but because poor old Charles Darwin had absolutely no idea how to write. Had he instead taken to covering a spider with ink, setting one of its legs on fire and letting said spider crawl about on a piece of parchment, im pretty sure a far better and damn sight more readable book would have been written this way. :-)
    The hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man's Land to begin the Battle of the Somme. - Poet John Masefield.

    www.leohopkins.com
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Forum Senior
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    321
    There is an excellent illustrated version of the 'Origin of species' by the BBC called: "The ORIGIN OF SPECIES: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE".

    This is not 'dumbed down' but well presented.

    I'm a paleontologist and have nothing but admiration for Darwin but he is difficult to wade through. He is not a 'prophet' but a scientist with an incredible insight into Nature. In some things he is correct (the main thrust) but he also goes off on tangents. Read him as one would any work of science...as a basis for building further theory and not as some type of gospel truth. the questions he asks are as important as the answers he provides.

    I certainly don't discourage reading Darwin but you'll probably come away richer reading about Darwin, his life and studies and the great debates of the time..especially those of Owen and Huxley. Darwin's writings in a quirky way are less central to 'Darwinism' than the debate around his works.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Forum Professor leohopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Dulwich, London, England
    Posts
    1,418
    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyologist
    There is an excellent illustrated version of the 'Origin of species' by the BBC called: "The ORIGIN OF SPECIES: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE".

    This is not 'dumbed down' but well presented.

    I'm a paleontologist and have nothing but admiration for Darwin but he is difficult to wade through. He is not a 'prophet' but a scientist with an incredible insight into Nature. In some things he is correct (the main thrust) but he also goes off on tangents. Read him as one would any work of science...as a basis for building further theory and not as some type of gospel truth. the questions he asks are as important as the answers he provides.

    I certainly don't discourage reading Darwin but you'll probably come away richer reading about Darwin, his life and studies and the great debates of the time..especially those of Owen and Huxley. Darwin's writings in a quirky way are less central to 'Darwinism' than the debate around his works.
    Okay thanks, I will try and look out for that book myself. Although I have to say I think that as long as one understands natural selection and functional advantage then one is well on one's way to understanding Darwinian therory. Functional advantage and natural selection CAN be applied to the molecular too; although many would disagree; however all you need is time and the Earth has had pleanty of that. Afterall, the universe seems to favour self-replication. I think what people cant seem to come to terms with the most is that infact there really IS no particular "point" to life, life itself is merely the inevitable consequence of possibility.
    The hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man's Land to begin the Battle of the Somme. - Poet John Masefield.

    www.leohopkins.com
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Senior
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    321
    Quote Originally Posted by leohopkins
    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyologist
    There is an excellent illustrated version of the 'Origin of species' by the BBC called: "The ORIGIN OF SPECIES: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE".

    This is not 'dumbed down' but well presented.

    I'm a paleontologist and have nothing but admiration for Darwin but he is difficult to wade through. He is not a 'prophet' but a scientist with an incredible insight into Nature. In some things he is correct (the main thrust) but he also goes off on tangents. Read him as one would any work of science...as a basis for building further theory and not as some type of gospel truth. the questions he asks are as important as the answers he provides.

    I certainly don't discourage reading Darwin but you'll probably come away richer reading about Darwin, his life and studies and the great debates of the time..especially those of Owen and Huxley. Darwin's writings in a quirky way are less central to 'Darwinism' than the debate around his works.
    Okay thanks, I will try and look out for that book myself. Although I have to say I think that as long as one understands natural selection and functional advantage then one is well on one's way to understanding Darwinian therory. Functional advantage and natural selection CAN be applied to the molecular too; although many would disagree; however all you need is time and the Earth has had pleanty of that. Afterall, the universe seems to favour self-replication. I think what people cant seem to come to terms with the most is that infact there really IS no particular "point" to life, life itself is merely the inevitable consequence of possibility.
    Evolution is about science and not Darwin. One not read the original works of Euclid and to understand geometry nor need to pour over Newton (shudder) to understand principles of mechanics and motion. It's hard to find a more intersting introduction to evolution and natural history than learning about Darwin but that is secondary to the actual science. The science concerns genetic replication, DNA and so on.

    Re your comment on 'no point to life'. You've grasped a fundamental concept of the science involved. There is no division between 'life' and 'non-life' that isn't artificial. A carbon atom is a carbon atom and 'has' to act a particular way regardless if in a life form or not. The fundamental properties of mass and energy are the same throughout the universe. What we call 'life' is a manifestation of that mass and energy...chemical interactions that act in accordance to what we know of mass and energy.

    If one wants to impose some 'point to life' then it is outside of any science. That's fine but there is nothing to distinguish the 'point' using science because life is an artificial construct. The field of 'organic chemistry' is just a subset of the field of chemistry.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Forum Professor leohopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Dulwich, London, England
    Posts
    1,418
    Absolutely I totally agree with what you are saying. I am sure that at some point in the not so distant future (probably in my life time i should hope) that I will see scientists have created life from scratch. I propose a new name for this kind of science if this happens; instead of calling it "organic chemistry", lets call it "organic geometry". !
    The hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man's Land to begin the Battle of the Somme. - Poet John Masefield.

    www.leohopkins.com
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    1,595
    the conditions that existed when life or living organism first appeared may not be possible to duplicated by man. much less these conditions may be such that nothing we now have could contain the experiment. the extremes that were during solar and/or planet formations, may be whats required to do this, even for all life, where ever. this only says that life is probably anyplace this event is in progress or has happened and i like to say time and conditions changed in such a manner to allow evolution.

    we know that rudimentary forms of bacteria or micro organisms were about 3 to 3.5 billion years ago. for obvious reasons, anything much before this would have been destroyed by the factors that may have created life. we are only guessing these conditions from what we see or estimate from other objects. if correct all planets should at some point been what (material or elements) the sun is now, or what Jupiter remains to be today. we also have no idea what all planets moons or whatever was involved while the area cooled. all that left our system would be very far away and no doubt dark matter to us. we and whatever that was move at great speeds.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    21
    Quote Originally Posted by leohopkins
    Absolutely I totally agree with what you are saying. I am sure that at some point in the not so distant future (probably in my life time i should hope) that I will see scientists have created life from scratch. I propose a new name for this kind of science if this happens; instead of calling it "organic chemistry", lets call it "organic geometry". !
    i heard life was already created, i'm not sure how anymore, but i'm 100% sure it was proven(by actually doing it) that it's possible to create organic material from inorganic material...
    it was something about putting lotsa gases and other stuff in some more chemicals, and voila! out came some amino acids...

    could be wrong about the way it happened, but it definitely happened...in a lab

    Quote Originally Posted by jackson33
    the conditions that existed when life or living organism first appeared may not be possible to duplicated by man. much less these conditions may be such that nothing we now have could contain the experiment. the extremes that were during solar and/or planet formations, may be whats required to do this, even for all life, where ever. this only says that life is probably anyplace this event is in progress or has happened and i like to say time and conditions changed in such a manner to allow evolution.
    right now, some skepticists think about it the other way around

    firstly, life wasnt created when suns and planets were formed, but much much later, so the conditions are quite duplicatable right now, with our current technology

    secondly, scientists right now are doubting whether the concentrations of certain chemicals used in the earlier mentioned experiments could have even existed in the same amounts and/or concentrations in earth's atmosphere around the time the first prokaryotes came to life...
    grtz.
    -FaTaL_eRRoR
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Forum Senior
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    321
    there's good comments above on conditions.One wants to be positive about life on Mars or the moons of outer planets but one of the more 'non-scientific declarations one hears repeatedly is 'that where one finds water and energy, there is life'. Sorry, but I can take distilled water and boil it on the stove forever and it will never create or contain life. Water might be necesary but so might 100 other specific variables.

    The bottom line is we don't know. We just have sporadic evidence of early life. in paleontology it's one of those black boxes that is talked about around the coffee table but doesn't get a lot of practical attention. Studying pre-multicellular life is frustrated by the lack of pieces of the pie. Also, the issue of the first life doesn't necessarily equate with producing life in a lab. One may someday bring together the bits and create life but it doesn't mean that it happened that way in nature. Modern man can start a fire in a hundred ways but it doesn't need to reflect how our ancestor's first did it.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Forum Professor leohopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Dulwich, London, England
    Posts
    1,418
    Quote Originally Posted by FaTaL_eRRoR
    Quote Originally Posted by leohopkins
    Absolutely I totally agree with what you are saying. I am sure that at some point in the not so distant future (probably in my life time i should hope) that I will see scientists have created life from scratch. I propose a new name for this kind of science if this happens; instead of calling it "organic chemistry", lets call it "organic geometry". !
    i heard life was already created, i'm not sure how anymore, but i'm 100% sure it was proven(by actually doing it) that it's possible to create organic material from inorganic material...
    it was something about putting lotsa gases and other stuff in some more chemicals, and voila! out came some amino acids...

    could be wrong about the way it happened, but it definitely happened...in a lab
    Yes you are correct, but all the created was amino acids. Amino acids are NOT life; even proteins (which are made from long strings of amino acids and folded in a particular way to perform a particular function) - Even proteins are NOT life, and we have not even created proteins yet; and then there is DNA and RNA etc. All necessary from life, so no we havnt created life. If life were a cup of tea, the only thing we have done is put the water in, the teabag, sugar and milk are still in the shops !!
    The hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man's Land to begin the Battle of the Somme. - Poet John Masefield.

    www.leohopkins.com
    Reply With Quote  
     

  16. #15  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    1,595
    fatal; i mentioned "may not", as an alternative thought. conditions created in the lab, are impressive. if you think about it we know little of what conditions were 3.5 billion years ago and certainly do not yet understand what conditions may be in life formation. some think life is forming deep in the oceans where gas leaking from the crust reaches very high temperatures (200+) and water pressures well above thought tolerance for life. life lives in these conditions today.

    hypothetically some think life to form could do so in very high temperatures and pressure which may or should have existed 4 billion years ago, in these very same places, or places similar. i also supposed life could have formed during formation, which we could never duplicate.
    all this has nothing to do with complex life, which in thought should have evolved from the micro life.
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •