Evolution - Oregon State University
Transcript Evolution - Oregon State University
The Origin of Species (1859)
The Descent of Man (1871)
Common ancestry: all species originated
from one or a small number of ancient
Variation by mutation: the forms, organs,
and instincts of an individual can differ in
small and random ways from those of its
progenitor; these new characteristics can be
passed on to the next generation.
Natural selection as the mechanism of
speciation: variations which prove to be
useful adaptations that promote an
individual’s survival will thereby enhance
reproduction and so are passed on to a
larger number of offspring. In this way,
useful variations are selected for.
Natural theology and the argument from
No design – no God!
Materialism was rampant on the continent.
It was a basis of an attack on Christianity
and the established (Christian) order.
It undergirded the work of Karl Marx.
“The cell consists of protoplasm, composed
chiefly of carbon with an admixture of
hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur. These
component parts, properly nursed, become
man. With this single argument, the mystery
of the universe is explained, the deity
annulled, and a new era of infinite
knowledge ushered in.”
Both religious and scientific thinkers in the
19th century embraced all possible
responses to Darwinism from one extreme
to the other.
Evolution is a natural process guided or
directed in some way by God.
Advocated by one of Darwin’s major
proponents Asa Gray (1810 – 1888)
“It is most presumable that an intellectual
conception realized in Nature would be
realized by natural agencies.”
Progressivism: Everything is getting better
and better. (Read the Victorian empire.)
Polygenism: Humans are descended from
several different individuals. (Read racism
Survival of the fittest: So get rid of the weak
and unfit. (So why not Nazi extermination
Pope Pius XII (1950) in his encyclical
Humani Generis (Of the Human Race)
allowed for discussions of evolution
between theologians and scientists, but
evolution at that point was still a
“Today almost half a century after the
publication of the encyclical Humani Generis,
new knowledge has led to the recongnition
of the theory of evolution as more than a
hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this
theory has been progressively accepted by
researchers following a series of discoveries
in various fields of knowledge.
The convergence, neither sought nor
fabricated, of the results of work that was
conducted independently is, in itself, a
significant argument in favor of this theory.”
A theory is a well-supported explanatory
structure capable of explaining and
predicting a range of phenomena. A theory
organizes facts, concepts and predictions
into a functional scientific framework.
There was general agreement among both
scientist and theologians regarding the
transformation of species.
Considerably less for natural selection as its
What happens next?