I am no scientist, but I had to see what all the fuss was about. Armed with admittedly feeble evolutionary knowledge, I decided to read The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.
I didn’t know exactly what to expect. What was it about Mr. Darwin that got the Christian panties all in a ruffle? Having shed my previous burden of religion, I was intrigued by this book and wondered what scathing blasphemy would be contained therein.
What I found was a book of science filled with long and tedious explanations and examples. I didn’t actually read, read the book, I listened to it on audiobook. I didn’t think that I would have the gusto to make it through a full text-book, but knew that I’d be able to force myself to listen to it while driving and working out (Yes, I do listen to nerdy books about evolutionary biology while lifting weights, I’m just that cool).
I didn’t really see anything controversial about the book. From what I had heard about it back in my religious days, I would have expected serpents to jump out of the mp3 player as soon as I turned it on. In reality, it is very dry. It builds up the evidence towards the theory of natural selection, explaining how we have selectively bred species of all types of domesticated animals for all of our existence. The Origin of Species only mentions the word Evolution once that I can recall, and that was in the last word of the end of the book.
I find it ironic that almost every non-religious argument towards evolution was brought up by Darwin in the book with his explanation. He stated that he had fought long and hard with his own theory with similar hard questions – such as the seemingly small amount of intermediate forms in the fossil record, or the long time necessary for his theory.
Darwin never outright attacked any religion as your Sunday School teacher would have you believe. Instead, his statements were, for the most part, neutral and limited to the facts, along with fact-driven speculations. Every once and a while he would mention that those who believed in distinct creation of species had a lot of explaining to do about how and when and where certain species were found in proximity to others in nearby habitats. There was never any outright attack or mention of any gods. It was simply a very focussed work on his theory of natural selection.
Perhaps Darwin had more controversial works later in his life which demonized the man. If he did, I think I’ll read the cliff notes. It was hard to focus on such a dry, scientific book. But it had to be done, although I’m glad I don’t have to take a test on it. I could never be a biologist, with all those crazy species names and genres. It’s truly mindboggling. I’ll stick to writing software.