04 December 2011

Notes on Darwin's On the Origin of Species

Natural Selection: Cain & Ability

Before starting on what is probably the most important chapter in Darwin's On the Origin of Species, let me just take back some of the things I initially wrote about Charles Darwin as an author. It just took about a chapter and a half to get myself orientated and discover ground on which to stand and receive Darwin's language. Incipient species, genera, variability, all these ideas sort of jump out of the first chapter and somewhat overwhelmed me. But they have all been stretched and expanded on by Darwin, he illustrates good and coherent examples of his notions. And by the beginning and throughout the 4th chapter titled, Natural Selection--the hardest thing to do is lose interest. The closing summary where Darwin brings forth the cliche example of a tree to explain the branching of life was beautifully delivered and it almost seemed thrilling, as if I could feel his excitement through his words and punctuation.

The purpose of these notes were suppose to help me understand the text as I read it but now that I feel confident, I probably won't write a chapter by chapter entry for On the Origin of Species (OOS). This might be the last for a while unless something remarkable should pop up in the book.

In reading this work on evolution and the theoretical evolutionary mechanism known as Natural Selection, I feel like I'm just reading the details to what I already knew. I guess you can say if it were a movie, I read the plot synopsis on the back of the DVD and am now watching the film. I knew what I was in-store for but the actual details are worth the extended experience.

Time acts on earth, bringing about change to the physical planet and the living things that live there. If these living things evolve forward in time to meet these changes then it could be through an concept called Natural Selection. Natural selection says that all these individual living things are varieties of one another and in the way they vary, if any new difference is to their individual advantage then ever-changing nature selects that variation. It selects it because as nature changes, obviously those that remain relevant with the included changes can make the most out of life in nature or earth. And if the variation continues to benefit the individual, it might gradually form a variety of its species and then that species of its genus and so on and so on.

After reading Darwin's full explanation I closed the book and thought about change. Thought about versatility and how its always the ability to adapt to circumstances that allows things to move forward. Successful Life is flexible. Not Life as in human social status but Life as in biology, as in everything alive on earth. All flexible cells and DNA that altered this way and that depending on what they had to deal with. Some went extinct and took with them the dead-end ideas while others took advantage of their own variations that found a way to be supported by the simultaneous variations of their surroundings.

Its as if Nature, like the Judeo-Christian God, gives favor to one offering over the next, as in the story of Cain and Abel. Only that the extinct species doesn't murder its sibling species, unless one states extinction to be the murder of the shared common genes that went wasted into creating these non-adaptable fallen branches. But even in such a tactless thought, the common genes remain favorable through the surviving species--modified into collaboration with new genes that ultimately make the difference.

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