In advance of Charles Darwin's 199th birthday next Tuesday, the Guardian newspaper has been going Darwin bonkers. Some links for you:
- Why Darwin matters
Richard Dawkins: Big enough to undermine creation but simple enough to be stated in a sentence, the theory of natural selection is a masterpiece.
- The book that changed the world
On the Origin of Species, an instant bestseller, drew both applause and fury, writes Tim Radford.
- Origin of Species: Introduction
The first of our six abridged extracts from the first edition of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species". In the introduction the great naturalist lays out his "mystery of mysteries" - where do new species come from?
- On the Origin of Species: Chapter III, Struggle for Existence
Darwin wonders how varieties can become full species. Crucial to this is what he calls "the struggle for existence.
- Chapter IV: Natural selection
This is the crux of the Origin of Species in which Darwin gives us a portrait of natural selection, the driving force behind evolution.
- On the Origin of Species: Chapter VI, Difficulties on theory - on the absence or rarity of transitional varieties
Darwin confesses that "a crowd of difficulties" will have occurred to his reader by this point and that some are "so serious that to this day I can hardly reflect on them without being in some degree staggered".
- On the Origin of Species: Chapter VI, Difficulties on Theory - The Eye
Darwin admits that the idea the eye could have been formed by natural selection seems at first glance "absurd in the highest possible degree", but he goes on to explain how a long series of small, heritable variations can account for its complexity.
- On the Origin of Species: Chapter XIV, Recapitulation and Conclusion
If you accept, writes Darwin, that natural traits are variable, that variation is heritable and that there is a struggle for existence, evolution by natural selection must follow.
- It ain't necessarily so…
Everyone has heard of Charles Darwin. Yet a good part of what most people think and believe about the man is wrong. John van Wyhe clears up some of the myths.
- At home with the Darwins
As devoted to his family as to his work, Darwin lived a comfortable life in Kent - until success changed his world.
- What would Darwin have made of the Human Genome Project?
You are the current owner of one of the great wonders of the natural world: a large genome, copied almost perfectly from your parents to you, without which you would not be here.
- How Darwin anticipated the "intelligent design" argument
The first sentence of the section on the eye is often cited by Darwin's enemies as the naturalist throwing in the towel. But read on and Darwin cajoles his reader to embrace the full power of natural selection.
- Natural selection is not an obstacle to religious faith
Despite efforts by individuals on both sides of the argument to suggest otherwise, Darwinian science and belief are compatible, says Richard Harries.
They've also put together a rather nice Darwin Bicentenary page in preparation for next year's celebrations.
I'm not sure that I buy John van Wyhe (FCD)'s claim that Darwin was no atheist. Although Darwin might never have come right out and admitted it, describing himself as an agnostic, there were some very good reasons for his doing this. Didn't St Peter deny knowing Jesus three times when it was expedient? That didn't exactly stop him from being a Christian.