Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Origins" by Charles Darwin

I grew up in the belief that creation was opposed to evolution: man was either created by God OR he evolved from monkeys.  'Belief' according to Bucky, is when you let someone else do the thinking for you - lazy me!

Charles Darwin first published his book in 1859  with the title "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" and it has been available ever since.  I never had any intention of reading this book but for the fact that someone had translated this book into Malay and the Malaysian Authorities thought fit to BAN the translation, though not the original English.  (Read my post here.)  I had to read the book for myself.

I remember reading somewhere that "Origin of Species", Thomas Malthus's "An Essay on the Principal on Population" and Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" form the 'triumvirate' of Capitalism - now 2 other books on my 'to read' list.

I got the book on-line.  It's not easy reading, the language can be a little too technical for a 'lay-person' like me, but I persevered as I wanted to know how this book was going to affect my Islamic Faith.

I consider myself orthodox in matters of my Faith and I did not find anything in this book that would challenge that.  In fact, Darwin appears to be a deeply religious man (Christian though and not Muslim) in this book.  He does not challenge God as I have heard some accusing him of.

"... it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws."  

Nature according to him, is not necessarily the creative agent (i.e. God) but "the agent of an agent (God)".

There is also no mention in this book of man being descended from monkeys.  That is the subject of another book, "The Descent of Man" published in 1871.

An 1871 caricature following publication of The Descent of Man was typical of many showing Darwin with an ape body, identifying him in popular culture as the leading author of evolutionary theory.
(Image and caption from Wikipedia.)

Could it be that our Authorities were actually spooked by the sub-title of the book, "Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life"?  I wonder how it would have looked in translation.

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