Lec01.Evolution - The Development of Evolutionary Thinking...

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1 The Development of Evolutionary Thinking Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution - Theodosius Dobzhansky - Main points of today’s lecture ± Modern evolutionary theory is the result of a long process of data gathering and hypothesizing ± Represents a triumph of an empirical approach to understanding the living world ± Evolution is one of several examples of a science that requires an explicit recognition of history Historical origins of modern evolution ± Most pre-Darwinian, Western thought regarded history as incidental ± The biological world is static ± Creation occurred once and what followed was maintenance of the status quo ± The world is a manifestation of an ideal in the mind of God ± God, being omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, couldn’t create a world that was less than perfect ± Therefore, organisms in the world are unchanged since the beginning ± Anything less would mean that God was itself imperfect
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2 But, what to make of variation? ± Pre-Darwinian human beings were well aware of variation ± They saw children, animals and plants born with differences and deformities relative to their parents ± But the variation was not considered important/essential ± The physical world, being a reflection of the ideal was less perfect ± Variation was caused by individuals being more or less similar to the ideal ± But the ideal (essence) was what mattered ± Variation was just noise or judgment in some divine sense And why were organisms suited to their environment? ± Adaptation was a reflection of the creator’s benevolence ± The “fit” between an organism and its environment was the result of God’s provision for its creation ± Under this scenario, no further
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course BIO 325H taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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Lec01.Evolution - The Development of Evolutionary Thinking...

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