Darwinism: the Most Revolutionary Movement in Science

Which scientific revolution incurred the most change?

While revolutions in thought were present in chemistry, cosmology, geology, and physics, the most altering discoveries were in biology via Charles Darwin’s considerations for evolution through natural selection and adaptation of species. The fundamentals of evolutionary thought seized society with an urgency to unite scientific theory with everything, applying direct causation via biological matter to reality. Darwin’s dangerous ideas disrupted the religious hold on society by preferring scientific method and empirical evidence to scholastic considerations of the Golden era. Bowler and Morus said, “The original Darwinian revolution turned out to be only a transition to an evolutionary interpretation of an already-existing worldview based on faith in the idea of progress as the product of divine providence or of nature’s laws.”[1] Darwinism, and later biology, oriented the human being as an organism victim to alteration by its environment to encourage continuation of species. However, it would not be until the twentieth-century that society adapted the notion of the effects of a nurturing environment as able to improve the nature of humans. Victorians believed: “Environmental effects are powerless to alter the characteristics inherited by the child from its parents,”[2] but genetic discoveries would reveal the human ability to adapt based on external factors incorporated through experience.

 

Yes, cosmology demonstrated a scientific revolution. Astronomers of the 1930s agreed about the shape of the universe, but instead of considering the system as static they saw it as dynamic or a universe that was producing energy; Bowler and Morus said, “No longer was the galaxy that human beings inhabit to be considered as the center of the universe.”[3] The Milky Way was one of a number of other galaxies; much like humans were not unique creations but evolved animal species, the universe resided in one galaxy of many of galaxies. Bowler and Morus said, “From that perspective, the transformation might certainly be regarded as truly revolutionary in the same sense that the Copernican revolution was.”[4] Early twentieth-century held a revolution in the understanding of space and time. Relativistic physics replaced Newtonian theory, Bowler and Morus said, “…replaced with the standpoint that time and space were relative to the position and velocity of the observer.”[5]

 

In “The Elegant Universe” PBS Nova discussed Quantum Theory, a possibility that multiple realities existed in different dimensions of time. Based on statistical data, Quantum theory dealt with extremely small matter, atomic elements of protons and the nucleus, that Einstein’s theory of gravity did not effect or relate.[6] Modern scientists, since the 1970s, developed String Theory to unite “heavy” science with small science. Working with the stuff of Einstein’s dreams, as inspired by his notebooks and personal record, Alan Lightman wrote Einstein’s Dreams to illustrate the creative spirit of the famous scientist. Einstein questioned everything, and while he did not agree with quantum theories, Lightman showed that Einstein thought more than one possibility could exist. 14 April 1905: “Suppose time is a circle, bending back on itself. The world repeats itself, precisely, endlessly.”[7] And later, on 14 May 1905: “There is a place where time stands still. Raindrops hang motionless in air. Pendulums of clocks float mid-swing. … Pedestrians are frozen on the dusty streets, their legs cocked as if held by strings.”[8] Einstein allowed room for the possibility of alternate time and space, but he rejected quantum theory. Is his rejection due to gravity not be unified? What would Einstein have thought of String theory?

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bowler, Peter J. and Iwan Rhys Morus. Making Modern Scienc: A Historical Survey. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2005.

“The Elegant Universe.” PBS Nova, 10 Aug 2014. YouTube.com. Online video. 25 Jan 2016.

Picture c/o:  http://c8.alamy.com/comp/AJA5JD/the-survival-of-the-fittest-application-of-darwinism-in-the-21st-century-AJA5JD.jpg

[1] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 161.

[2] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 158.

[3] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 286.

[4] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 286.

[5] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 287.

[6] PBS, “The Elegant Universe.”

[7] Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams, p. 8.

[8] Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams, p. 8.

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2 thoughts on “Darwinism: the Most Revolutionary Movement in Science

  1. My research indicates that natural selection is still at work perfecting life. Humankind, as biological creature, is still evolving. I notice my own evolution, but I am referring to individual growth not mutation of species, lol. With consciousness roughly 100,000 years our mental compass, I think much change and adaptation is still possible. We are a “young” species, we have much room to grow.
    Thank you for the comment!

    Like

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