Kendall's Reviews > The Origin of Species

The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
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Jan 24, 09

Recommended to Kendall by: My mother, who thought it was from the devil
Recommended for: Scientists, creationists, intelligent desginers, everybody else
Read in December, 2008

Finally re-read after decades of good intentions. For a recondite classic it is full of surprises, mostly pleasant; its supposed impenetrability largely confined to parts we already knew were directed at specialists—I admit to slogging through the section on barnacles, for example. But Origins is highly readable, pleasurable even, almost in the way of an Edmund Wilson essay. Darwin proceeds deliberately through the mountain of evidence he collected over twenty years as he constructs a virtually unassailable intellectual structure. Freely recognizing arguments against natural selection—the central thread of the book—he gives his best arguments based on the knowledge of his day while carefully pointing out its limitations. I was not prepared for how well he anticipated later discoveries—Mendel’s pioneering work in genetics didn’t see publication until the early 20th century yet dovetails almost seamlessly into Origins exposition, as does the Modern Synthesis.
If you’re interested in any of the broad fields of biology-evolution, taxonomy, genetics—The Origin of Species is a must read. If you are a creationist, even in its deceptive guise of intelligent design, you are not intellectually honest if you have not read and honestly come to grips with this book; which gives the lie to the railings of a few misguided Christians and Muslims who seem to think it a product of their devil. Yet, so thoughtful and measured a book makes it clear any devils are in the eye of the beholder.
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12/02/2008 page 305
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message 2: by Brad (new)

Brad I really enjoyed your review, Kendall, particularly your call for creationists to engage in intellectual honesty. Well said.


message 1: by Kendall (last edited Jun 04, 2014 03:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kendall Thanks, Brad. I appreciate your comments. Alas, my challenge to creationists is destined to fall on deaf ears. Darwin anticipated natural selection providing a mechanism to improving the human race. He didn't realize, perhaps, is that it would produce big brains evolved, not to see truth more clearly, but to prove what we already believe.


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