On the Origin of Species

Over a year ago, Cait and I thought it would be good to read “On the Origin of Species.” We bought a copy of it but never got around to reading it. As YOME approached I thought maybe I should be better equipped than I was last year when discussions about evolution came up (none came up this year… but it was good to read it anyway), so I started reading Darwin’s book.
Don’t expect anything I say here to be profound, these are just thoughts and questions, and maybe a quote here and there. Some parts of the book were rather thick to get through and I admit I did skim quite often… I may be reading pre-suppositions in, but if anything they’d be contrary ideas and contrary bias, so I’d be more likely to read in disagreement than agreement in most places. And if we say we can’t presuppose anything, then Darwin presupposed that there is no God.
My understanding of it all isn’t perfect but these are some thoughts just the same.
After I finished reading it I made some lists. On one side I had agreements, and on the other I had disagreements.
One agreement before I disagree any: I agree that within a species there is variation, variety, and microevolution. WITHIN a species, and that there’s no new genetic information added. It’s my belief that God created cat and in cat was the genetic information for lion, cheetah, etc. Darwin spends almost the whole first half of his book emphasizing that there IS change within species and there IS much variety and that species ARE mutable. I agree.
But I disagree with uniformitarianism. It leaves no place for catastrophes like the flood or Mt. St. Helens. Darwin himself says that under certain circumstances reproduction is higher and faster – which contradicts the idea of uniformatarianism, even if I did agree with it.
Another disagreement is the length of time involved in evolution. Yes, it takes time for breeding to work and to get any genetic traits you don’t want (I’m using breeding as an example because it makes more sense to us than trying to figure it out in the natural world – but it does show a little how a thinking mind is needed to decide on all that… not the supposed mechanism of natural selection)… but it doesn’t take millions of years.
As for natural selection, if you don’t believe in sin, you’ll need another explanation for death, a result of sin – if you deny scriptural premises (Darwin denies God and death as a part of the curse) then you’ll have to look elsewhere for answers… which then you’ll have a false premise which leads to a false conclusion.
As we see elsewhere with Darwin’s theory. Darwin bases some of his theory on Thomas Malthus’s idea that the world is overpopulated and we can’t feed everyone so people and animals die to make room for others. This is contrary to the dominion mandate of “be fruitful and multiply.” Also, if one were to take away government oppression, there would not be such a huge food issue (think of the Irish potato famine).
I agree, in a fallen world, there will be a struggle to survive. And yes, those who are more fit and stronger most likely will win, but not always.

Darwin only hints at macroevolution. He doesn’t discuss it in detail, but does make a few comments towards all being descended from one life form (we know from Genesis that at least there were sea creatures and land beasts and men…). He mentions in chapter 8 that you can’t cross families in breeding… so how does macroevolution work? He never explains or supports macroevolution, only microevolution, then extrapolates his findings on microevolution to apply to macro.
Darwin admits that the geological record is imperfect, that we don’t know the laws of variation, that there are grave difficulties with his theory and things we don’t know.
How’d macroevolution ever get to a theory, anyway? It should still be a hypothesis. Yet people treat it like a law of science.
Another thing I’d like to know is if no bad traits get passed on, how do we get hereditary diseases? How about things like blue eyes which are more sensitive to the sunlight? Shouldn’t they have been erased long ago?

Some interesting quotes to ruminate over:
“He who believes that each equine species was independently created, will, I presume, assert that each species has been created with a tendency to vary, both under nature and under domestication, in this particular manner, so as often to become striped like other species of the genus; and that each has been created with a strong tendency, when crossed with species inhabiting distant quarters of the world, to produce hybrids resembling in their stripes, not their own parents, but other species of the genus. To admit this view is, as it seems to me, to reject a real for an unreal, or at least for an unknown, cause. It makes the works of God a mere mockery and deception.” – 105.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this one:
“What ought we to do, if it could be proved that one species of kangaroo had been reproduced, by a long course of modification, from a bear? ot we to rank this one species with bears, and what should e do with the other species? The supposition is of course preposterous; and I might answer by the argumentum ad hominem and ask what should be done if a perfect kangaroo were seen to come out of the womb of a bear? According to all analogy, it would be ranked with bears; but then assuredly all the other species of the kangaroo family would have to be classed under the bear genus. The whole case is preposterous; for where there has been close descent in common, there will certainly be close resemblance or affinity.” – 266-267.

Here’s a quote I think we could all use:
“It is so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as the “plan of creation,” “Unity of design,” etc., and to think that we give an explanation when we only restate a fact.” – 302.
This makes me think along the lines of something we talked about with the Ms when we were camping – Christians often hide under the word “gospel.” It can be a useful shorthand when in a group when everyone knows just what you mean by ‘gospel’ – the good news of Christ’s taking on God’s wrath for our sin instead of us receiving the spiritual death and @#!*% we deserve, and our restored relationship with God – but we hide under it. People use it to sound ‘spiritual’ when they’re really not saved by His grace. And it takes the focus off of the one with whom we now stand in right relation and worship to what brought us there. Both are important, but we seem to go for the effect and event rather than the cause and the who.

Well, ponder all that a while and then tell me what you think. YOME finished yesterday and I’ve recuperated over a day of laundry and making beds and ironing and prayer… and blogging also helps me assess and work out thoughts. But I don’t know how long it will be before I do a post on YOME. For now let me just say that it was great. 🙂

_ Kyleigh

All page numbers from the Dover Thrift Edition.

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2 thoughts on “On the Origin of Species

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