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Oh why must you torture me so Darwin?

ib4walrus's picture

 I've always wanted to read Darwin's On the Origin of Species ever since learning about evolution in biology class.  It only seemed right that I had to read one of the most influential texts that had ever been written or else I felt that I couldn't have truly said I love biology.  However, once we started reading the actual book for class, my sentiments towards Darwin and his book started to change.  What was once admiration and curiosity soon turned to annoyance and impatience.  Every page simply dragged on and on and on and on, I just couldn't help but only give a cursory read over most of the book.  Why did his summarized work seem so much more interesting than what he actually wrote?  

I had to step back and put myself into Darwin's era.  He wasn't writing in order to inform the modern day population but rather it was in order to persuade a public who's views were deeply ingrained in the church.  Darwin's pages upon pages of examples and descriptions were in order to make a convincing argument, to ensure that the public could know that he had empirical evidence to back up him up.  So in that sense I understand why his work was such a drag to read.  His audience wasn't us but the people of his time.  I appreciated his courage in writing a work that challenges the public's perspective because is it wasn't for him, there might not be this discussion between teaching creationism or evolution because we would most likely only be learning about creationism.  Though Darwin concentrated mostly on his theory of evolution, his work for his time has brought up many controversial topics.  Even now in class we have a difficult time between deciding how to teach this topic in our education system, this idea of a foundational and non-foundational story or questioning our sense of agency with the concept of randomness.  In this sense, I believe this is why his work still persists through time.  His theory on evolution may now be a widely known (and because of this repetitive) but it is the discussion topics that are associated with his work which is why (for me) Darwin is still relevant in our times.


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