Evolution Review - Darwins Evolution Where did all the...

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Darwin’s Evolution Where did all the diverse life forms come from on this planet? This has always been a question that curious people have asked. Historically, the Greek natural philosophers favored the idea that the world was infinite and cyclic. They were essentialists (believed everything occurred as types (essence). Christian thought differed in that they believed the beginning of life could be traced back to a distinct time and that the earth was not that old (thousands of years). Christian and Biblical thought also dictated that living things were set types (ie a giraffe is a giraffe, a daffodil is a daffodil, etc). The idea of an evolving world (where types change) and a very old world with a distinct beginning (at least for the earth) were contradictory to scientists and non-scientists of Darwin’s time. Historically conflicting ideas: Essentialism – all living things are set types that don’t change Modified only by catastrophic events – only sudden events changes type Jean LaBabtiste Lamarck came up with the first unified theory involving change (evolution) but favored a model in which organisms changed type by Use or disuse of existing parts toward perfection (Finalism) Through an inheritance of acquired characters Finalism: Things change and are directional (headed for some final destiny (ie. Simple to complex, ugly to beautiful, dumb to smart) Darwin was not a essentialist but a population thinker because he… 1. emphasized variation among populations 2. favored gradualism (gradual change over time) – this requires a recognition that the earth may be every old Darwin’s influences Readings of Charles Lyell (a geologist who recognized that the earth existed as layers of sediment that may have taken millions (billions) of years to have accumulated Uniformitarianism – (an idea that Darwin shared with Lyell) - the natural processes of the past created the geology and the fossils of the present and those forces are the same (uniform) ones that are acting in the present to shape future formations Readings of Thomas Malthus (an economist who reasoned that population growth would occur exponentially if resources were not limited, but that since they inevitably were, famine and death would be a natural outcome of that growth
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Malthus believed God favored virtuous behavior and that it would keep humans from experiencing disaster in the form of famine and death Work as a naturalist – Darwin was a keen observer of nature Voyage on S.S.Beagle – voyage around the world where he worked as a naturalist
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