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A history of evolutionary theory Evolutionary theory itself has evolved in man's quest for understanding his origins.

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Introduction

A history of evolutionary theory Evolutionary theory itself has evolved in man's quest for understanding his origins. Many individuals have contributed to it, each modifying the work of his predecessors to address new data or resolve problems that arose from new information. This paper will briefly summarize some of the most defining contributions and trace the development of the theory of evolution from early to modern times. Views if origins will be categorized as early, pre-Darwinian, Darwinian, and post-Darwinian. Early Views of Origins The best-known early view of origins is that of the Hebrews. The Torah taught that an eternal, omnipotent, and all-wise God created the entire universe, including man, by calling it into existence. Creation began with apparent age, and complexity and design was woven into every detail. The species (Latin = kinds) were fixed by reproductive limitations which resulted when God commanded each to "bring forth after its own kind". God created man in his own image and was his showpiece of workmanship. 1 Acknowledgement of this doctrine established man's accountability to his maker. This view was subsequently embraced by Christianity, which had its origins in Judaism, but not until after the Greek Empire arose. The Greeks adopted a view of origins that included a multitude of anthropomorphic, deities. ...read more.

Middle

It wasn't until the rise of Christianity that large numbers of people seriously challenged it. The Christians, with their Jewish origins, clung to the Genesis account of creation. Jesus Christ, himself, quoted Genesis numerous times in such a way to endorse its literal interpretation. 7 When Constantine became a Christian, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The almost unlimited power of the Roman church was wielded with arrogance and lack of reason, stifling scientific inquiry. Proclamations were made as to the exact day and hour that the earth had been created. Galileo, already famous for developing a working telescope, was punished for endorsing the heliocentric theory of the solar system. Reaction to this intellectual dishonesty lead to a questioning of all that the church taught, including the theory of intelligent creation. The Reformation of the seventeenth century and the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century were largely due to reactions to extra-Biblical decrees of the Roman church. Before leaving the topic of special creation, it should be noted that, though this view has ancient roots, it is still the view of most people in the western world. Many prestigious scientists believe that, putting theology and religious doctrine aside, there is more empirical evidence to support a model of creation with intelligent design than there is to support a model of evolution through random processes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although neither of Lamarck's views is considered credible today, his was the first scientific theory of evolution. Further, his work in the natural sciences resulted in a unified science which he called "Biology". Perhaps the most influential writing that would stir the imagination of Charles Darwin was Essay on the Principles of Populations, 1798, by Thomas Malthus (1766-1834). Malthus described the problem of overpopulation in plants, animals, and even man. His view was that any population, left to itself, would eventually outgrow its food source. His motive was to establish the need for moral restraint in reproduction, but Darwin saw his work as an insight into the competitive environment that all species must face to survive. Darwinism The writings of Malthus and Lyell were to find significance in the mind of Charles Darwin. He was given a post as a naturalist for an extended voyage aboard the H.M.S. Beagle, from which he acquired a wealth of observations of various organisms. It was during this voyage that he began developing a theory of adaptation based upon natural selection, though it was not until twenty-two years later that he wrote and published Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection. Though "survival of the fittest" was not a phrase that he actually coined, it describes his view of gradual evolution through natural selection. Small, random variations in some individuals within an isolated population coupled with changes in the environment created a competitive advantage for those ...read more.

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