Charles Darwin: Destroyer of Myths

Charles Darwin: Destroyer of Myths

Andrew Norman

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 1628737255

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Charles Darwin did not deliberately set out to be the “destroyer of mythical beliefs,” some of which, in his early days as a young Christian, he had previously espoused. He was a modest man who liked to avoid controversy of any kind, yet paradoxically, he was to be the cause of the greatest controversy in the history of science and religion.

When Darwin embarked on the HMS Beagle in late December 1831, bound for the southern hemisphere, he could not have imagined that the experience would lead him to formulate a theory that would totally revolutionize the way in which we viewed the natural world. He did not come to his conclusions about the origin and evolution of all life on Earth quickly, though, for just as the living organisms to which his theory applied had evolved over millions of years, so his thinking evolved as his own life progressed.

How did this thoughtful, methodical scientist come to have such an impact on his time—and on ours? These questions and more are what Andrew Norman seeks to answer in this biography of the author of The Origin of Species.

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latterly especially notorious for fevers: how mysterious and how terrible is their power. It is remarkable that in almost every case, the fever appears to come on several days after returning into the pure atmosphere.14 Meanwhile, on 8 April, Darwin, in company with an Englishman with whom he had become acquainted, embarked on a 100-mile overland journey on horseback into the interior, where he made measurements of temperature and rainfall, studied fireflies, fungi, and tree ferns, and collected

transfer his son (and presumably his other children) to the established Church of England. This was probably because Robert, who had ambitions for his two sons, knew that as Unitarian ‘dissenters’ they would face hostility and prejudice in society, which might well prove to be a hindrance to them. Chapter 3 Shrewsbury School and the Reverend Butler In the summer of 1818 Darwin entered Shrewsbury School as a boarder, even though the school was ‘hardly more than a mile to my home’.1 Its

of a single man.11 Darwin advised Hooker on 4 February 1861 to take life more gently. Be idle; but I am a pretty man to preach, for I cannot be idle, much as I wish it & am never comfortable except when at work. The word Holiday is written in a dead language for me, & much I grieve at it.12 To Armand de Quatrefages, on 25 April, Darwin declared of Origin, ‘My views spread slowly in England & America; and I am much surprised to find them most commonly accepted by Geologists, next by Botanists

social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.12) In later life Wallace was to assert that he was ‘absolutely convinced’ as to the merits of socialism, which was ‘the only form of society worthy of civilized beings, and that it alone can secure for mankind continuous mental and moral advancement …’.13 God and religion Whereas Darwin did not entirely dismiss the possibility of the existence of

On the other hand, what if there had been, at the time of the K-T Boundary, an inordinate and prolonged fall in temperature? Mammals are insulated by a covering of hair or fur (short, fine, soft hair) – which is composed of keratin (the same durable, fibrous, protein material of which the scales of dinosaurs and other reptiles is composed). This acts by trapping pockets of air, and thereby enables heat to be retained in a similar manner to that by which double-glazed windows insulate a house.

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