Pea Plants Flies and the Modern Synthesis

This was the state of biology of May 8, 1900, in the words of William Bateson We want to know the whole truth of the matter we want to know the physical basis, the inward and essential nature, the causes as they are sometimes called, of heredity. We want also to know the laws which the outward and visible phenomena obey. Let us recognize from the outset that as to the essential nature of these phenomena we still know absolutely nothing. We have no glimmering of an idea as to what constitutes...

Opposition

Darwin wrote The Origin of Species to propose a theory more plausible than special creation. His goal was to demonstrate that the observed world was better explained by a mechanistic selection by nature than by convoluted justifications for the apparently capricious designs of a deity generally represented as sensible.* Special creation advocates attacked Origin strenuously, yet seldom offered much evidence in support of their own theories. They were in the position of having a newborn idea, as...

Eugenics

A somewhat more scientific aspect of social Darwinism was eugenics. Spencer himself persisted in his belief in acquired Lamarckian improvements, which told him that poor people who worked hard and did improve would have improved children, made better by their parents' efforts both in condition and inheritance. As it became more clear at the turn of the century that Weismann, the cytologist who wrote of the continuity of germ plasm and chopped off mice tails, was right, and there was no acquired...

Saltation

When Darwin wrote Origin he included the phrase nature non facit saltum nature does nothing by jumps. This statement seemed unnecessary and dangerous to Huxley, who advised Darwin that he had loaded yourself with an unnecessary difficulty. This was an insightful judgment, since this insistence on gradual change proved to be a persistent point of contention. People are still finding this rule hard to swallow. Darwin, no doubt, had uniformitarianism in mind when he wrote it. He knew of the...

Post Normal Science

Will evolutionary theory redefine science Or will science subdue evolutionary theory Science has no doubt benefited from Darwin's unsettling idea. Evolution as concept has taken over all of science. Star clusters evolve so does just about everything. And evolution sparked remarkable efforts within biology. If Darwin hadn't considered discovering the mechanics of inheritance imperative, we might not have discovered DNA and decoded the genome. Evolutionary theory did what any theory is supposed...

Gregdr Mendel

In the few short years since the publication of Darwin's Origin, no doubt due to the strenuous efforts of Huxley, science was no longer trapped within the province of religion. Having religious ties had even become a handicap for the twentieth-century scientist. The fact that Gregor Mendel was a monk probably contributed to his work being ignored for nearly half a century. This was unfair, as well as foolish, because Mendel was a monk for the same reasons that Darwin almost became a country...