First up (chuckle chuckle):
Secrets of the Sixth Edition by Randall Hedtke:
Darwins On the Origin of the Species was originally released in 1859, and by 1872, the sixth and last edition was published, becoming the defining text for evolutionists. This controversial work has become the foundation of modern textbooks for scientific studies in origins, though Darwin himself expressed deep doubts about his own speculations and suppositions. Secrets of the Sixth Editionby Randall Hedtke exposes the critical flaws of this landmark book by using Darwin’s own words against him. Provides an examination of Darwins research and the faulty basis of his scientific writings. Filled with extensive documentation looking at the fatal flaws in Darwins assumptions. Addresses strategies for possible changes to curriculum to address weaknesses in the evolutionary hypothesis. Take an insightful look at Darwins work and its inaccuracies from a fresh and logical perspective. You will discover the often ignored reasoning behind his own abandonment of some of the core mechanisms of evolution later in his life, though they remain unchallenged pillars of unquestioning science today. This informative and east-to-read study boldly declares the powerful truth that only biblical creation can explain. [Randall Hedtke has read, written, and taught about the controversy of creation-evolution for decades. The basis for much of the Secrets of the Sixth Edition were originally formed in a series of essays originally published in the Creation Research Society Quarterly.]
Now to more serious books:
Emma Darwin: A Victorian Life by James D. Loy and Kent M. Loy:
After Charles Darwin’s world-changing HMS Beagle voyage, he found a loyal protector and editor when in 1839 he married Emma Wedgwood (1808–1896) as he sought to document his naturalist and revolutionary scientific ideas. The authors (James is an anthropologist at the University of Rhode Island; Kent is a freelance writer) give us the family’s life from the viewpoint of the “lively and outspoken” Emma, as derived from two volumes of her letters and daily notations. The events they describe include the family’s campaigns against slavery and vivisection. Darwin became increasingly agnostic while Emma was religious (their passel of children were spiritually indifferent), but they lived in mutual respect and upper-class comfort through much of the Victorian era. In spite of Emma’s concentration on her children and extended family, she passionately followed politics and global concerns such as the American Civil War and Irish unrest. The authors’ casual diagnosis of physical and mental ailments mildly mars an otherwise excellent portrait of the English elite during the age of British scientific discovery.
What makes us human? Where is the limit between human and animal? Is the human species the contingent result of blind evolutionary processes? These pressing questions haunt literature in the wake of Darwin’s shocking claim that humans and apes are descended from a common ancestor. Anxiety concerning the status of humankind is a central theme in Victorian and modernist fiction, ranging from ‘ape narratives’ (e.g. the Tarzan series) to fantastic encounters with missing links, primeval men and ‘races of the future’. All are pervaded by the spectres of degeneration and dehumanisation as well as by apocalyptic visions of the end of humankind. The exploration of these existential anxieties and their various literary expressions stands at the centre of this study which offers detailed and original analyses of a broad range of literary texts, covering the period between the publication of the Origin of Species and the beginning of the Second World War.
Evolutionary Restraints: The Contentious History of Group Selection by Mark E. Borrello:
Much of the history of the evolutionary debate since Darwin has focused on the level at which natural selection occurs. Most biologists acknowledge multiple levels of selection—from the gene, the trait, and the organism, to the family, the group, and the species. However, it is the debate about group selection that Mark E. Borrello focuses on in Evolutionary Restraints. Tracing the history of biological attempts to determine whether selection could lead to the evolution of fitter groups, Borrello takes as his focus the British naturalist V. C. Wynne-Edwards, who proposed that animals could regulate their own population levels and thereby avoid overexploitation of their food and other resources. By the mid-twentieth century, Wynne-Edwards became the primary advocate for group selection theory, and precipitated a debate that engaged the most significant evolutionary biologists including Ernst Mayr, John Maynard Smith, G.C. Williams and Richard Dawkins. The resultant interpretations and arguments bled out into broader conversations about population regulation, environmental crises, and the evolution of human and animal social behavior. Evolutionary Restraints illuminates both the process of science and the role of controversy in the process. From its origins in Darwin’s own thinking, this debate, Borrello reminds us, remains relevant and alive to this day.
Darwinism and the Divine: Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology by Alister McGrath:
There remains a widespread perception that Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection marked the demise of any viable Christian natural theology – most notably, that of William Paley. But did Darwinism really shake such fundamental beliefs to the core? Or did Darwin’s “dangerous idea” instead serve to transform and illuminate our views on the relation between the natural world and the divine? Darwinism and the Divine presents a detailed examination of the implications of evolutionary thought for natural theology, from the publication of On the Origin of Species more than a century-and-a-half ago through to the present day. Integrating and extending the latest scholarly research from across a wide variety of disciplines, world-renowned theologian Alister E. McGrath first explores the forms of natural theology that emerged in England from the late 17th century until 1850, showing us how these views were affected by the advent of Darwin’s theories. McGrath offers the most detailed account of the intellectual background to William Paley’s natural theology currently available, and offers an informed assessment of the impact of Darwin on such approaches. He then considers how Christian belief has adapted to Darwinism, and whether there is a place for design both in the world of science and the world of theology. Journeying well beyond On the Origin of the Species, Darwinism and the Divine offers a scholarly and thought-provoking consideration of the co-existence of natural theology with Darwinism in today’s world.
Evolution Before Darwin by Pietro Corsi:
In many people’s minds, biology was mired in confusion and superstition until Darwin came, and then there was light. But evolutionary ideas have a long history, and moreover to this day, in France, Lamarck is revered as Darwin’s great predecessor, not as ‘the man who got it wrong’. Evolution was a topic of much debate in France, and also to a lesser extent in Germany and in Italy. Early in the 19th century, geology was all the rage, while arguments about time and the nature of species – were they created, did they change with time – was much discussed. So why did a Darwin appear in England? And moreover why at the end of the 1850s? And why was the response and public take-up of evolutionary ideas so rapid and positive? These are the questions Pietro Corsi considers in this book. He describes the debates in France, Germany, and Italy surrounding Lamarck’s ideas about changing species, against the backdrop of changing political climates (the defeat of Napoleon and its aftermath). And while Continental Europe was convulsed by the 1848 revolutions, and Italy was in the throes of unification, in England perceptions of evolutionary ideas shifted from being associated with dangerous Continental radicalism and atheism, to part of reform and progress. Corsi shows how intellectual opinion shifted in England, driven by such figures as Baden Powell (grandfather of the founder of the boy scouts), and fierce debates on science and religion. The intention of this book is not to undermine Darwin, whose accomplishments as an individual require no justification, but to put him and his work in historical context, and more pertinently in the context of social, political, and intellectual developments in Britain and the Continent. This is an extraordinarily rich and novel discussion involving the history of the development of perhaps the single greatest idea in the life sciences, written by one of the foremost scholars in the field.
The publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859 is widely regarded as a turning point in knowledge of the natural world. But Darwin’s theory of natural selection was not developed in a vacuum; rather, it represents the culmination of an enormous shift in scientific and popular opinion on the subject of species mutability from the late eighteenth century onward. Through her insightful introduction and engaging collection of documents, Sandra Herbert examines this era of scientific thought and the startling discoveries that led Darwin and others to the conclusion that life has evolved. A wide range of documents from over a dozen authors — including letters, illustrations, scientific tracts, and excerpts from Darwin’s own notebooks and On the Origin of Species — offer a fascinating glimpse into this crucial era of scientific thought. Thoughtful document headnotes, questions for consideration, a chronology, and a selected bibliography provide students with additional context and pedagogical support.
Sensitive to the ways in which Darwin’s outlook differed from that of many biologists today, the main topics that are the focus of this book-common ancestry, group selection, sex ratio, and naturalism-have rarely been discussed in such penetrating detail.
From Man to Ape: Darwinism in Argentina, 1870-1920 by Adriana Novoa and Alex Levine:
Upon its publication, The Origin of Species was critically embraced in Europe and North America. But how did Darwin’s theories fare in other regions of the world? Adriana Novoa and Alex Levine offer here a history and interpretation of the reception of Darwinism in Argentina, illuminating the ways culture shapes scientific enterprise. In order to explore how Argentina’s particular interests, ambitions, political anxieties, and prejudices shaped scientific research, From Man to Ape focuses on Darwin’s use of analogies. Both analogy and metaphor are culturally situated, and by studying scientific activity at Europe’s geographical and cultural periphery, Novoa and Levine show that familiar analogies assume unfamiliar and sometimes startling guises in Argentina. The transformation of these analogies in the Argentine context led science—as well as the interaction between science, popular culture, and public policy—in surprising directions. In diverging from European models, Argentine Darwinism reveals a great deal about both Darwinism and science in general. Novel in its approach and its subject, From Man to Ape reveals a new way of understanding Latin American science and its impact on the scientific communities of Europe and North America.
In mid-Victorian England there were new racial categories based upon skin colour. The ‘races’ familiar to those in the modern west were invented and elaborated after the decline of faith in Biblical monogenesis in the early nineteenth century, and before the maturity of modern genetics in the middle of the twentieth. Not until the early nineteenth century would polygenetic and racialist theories win many adherents. But by the middle of the nineteenth century in England, racial categories were imposed upon humanity. How the idea of ‘race’ gained popularity in England at that time is the central focus of The Victorian Reinvention of Race: New Racisms and the Problem of Grouping in the Human Sciences. Scholars have linked this new racism to some very dodgy thinkers. The Victorian Reinvention of Race examines a more influential set of the era’s writers and colonial officials, some French but most of them British. Attempting to do serious social analysis, these men oversimplified humanity into biologically-heritable, mentally and morally unequal, colour-based ‘races’. Thinkers giving in to this racist temptation included Alexis de Tocqueville when he was writing on Algeria; Arthur de Gobineau (who influenced the Nazis); Walter Bagehot of The Economist; and Charles Darwin (whose Descent of Man was influenced by Bagehot). Victorians on Race also examines officials and thinkers (such as Tocqueville in Democracy in America, the Duke of Argyll, and Governor Gordon of Fiji) who exercised methodological care, doing the hard work of testing their categories against the evidence. They analyzed human groups without slipping into racial categorization. Author Edward Beasley examines the extent to which the Gobineau-Bagehot-Darwin way of thinking about race penetrated the minds of certain key colonial governors. He further explores the hardening of the rhetoric of race-prejudice in some quarters in England in the nineteenth century – the processes by which racism was first formed.
The Species Problem: A Philosophical Analysis (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology) by Richard A. Richards:
There is long-standing disagreement among systematists about how to divide biodiversity into species. Over twenty different species concepts are used to group organisms, according to criteria as diverse as morphological or molecular similarity, interbreeding and genealogical relationships. This, combined with the implications of evolutionary biology, raises the worry that either there is no single kind of species, or that species are not real. This book surveys the history of thinking about species from Aristotle to modern systematics in order to understand the origin of the problem, and advocates a solution based on the idea of the division of conceptual labor, whereby species concepts function in different ways – theoretically and operationally. It also considers related topics such as individuality and the metaphysics of evolution, and how scientific terms get their meaning. This important addition to the current debate will be essential for philosophers and historians of science, and for biologists.
Hosts of Living Forms (Penguin Great Ideas) by Charles Darwin:
Charles Darwin transformed our understanding of the world with the idea of natural selection, challenging the notion that species are fixed and unchanging. These writings from “On the Origin of Species” explain how different life forms appear all over the globe, evolve over millions of years, become extinct and are supplanted. “Great Ideas” – Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves – and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives – and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.
The Darwinian Tourist: Viewing the World Through Evolutionary Eyes by Christopher Wills:
In The Darwinian Tourist, biologist Christopher Wills takes us on a series of adventures–exciting in their own right–that demonstrate how ecology and evolution have interacted to create the world we live in. Some of these adventures, like his SCUBA dives in the incredibly diverse Lembeh Strait in Indonesia or his encounter with a wild wolf cub in western Mongolia, might have been experienced by any reasonably intrepid traveller. Others, like his experience of being hammered by a severe earthquake off the island of Yap while sixty feet down in the ocean, filming manta rays, stand far outside the ordinary. With his own stunning color photographs of the wildlife he discovered on his travels, Wills not only takes us to these far-off places but, more important, draws out the evolutionary stories behind the wildlife and shows how our understanding of the living world can be deepened by a Darwinian perspective. In addition, the book offers an extensive and unusual view of human evolution, examining the entire sweep of our evolutionary story as it has taken place throughout the Old World. The reader comes away with a renewed sense of wonder about the world’s astounding diversity, along with a new appreciation of the long evolutionary history that has led to the wonders of the present-day. When we lose a species or an ecosystem, Wills shows us, we also lose many millions of years of history. Published to coincide with the International Year for Biodiversity, The Darwinian Tourist is packed with globe-trotting exploits, brilliant color photography, and eye-opening insights into the evolution of humanity and the natural world.
This research monograph is an important contribution to the study of the author, Kurt Vonnegut and the great evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin. The book examines Darwin s influence on the American culture that were Vonnegut’s major focus and interest and the source of his importance as a major American writer of the later half of the 20th century. This book is relevant in its attempt to understand, in Vonnegut s novels, how Darwin s theory of evolution functions as a cosmogonic myth that is widely accepted in order to explain why the world is as it is and why things happen as they do, to provide a rationale for social customs and observances, and to establish the sanctions for the rules by which Vonnegut s characters conduct their lives. Moreover, this book deals with how and why Kurt Vonnegut s fiction represents the changing human image resulting from Darwinism. The author discovered and developed his literary theory of Evolution as a Mythology from the novel Galapagos (Kurt Vonnegut,1985). McInnis persuasively developed theory suggests changes to the American (and English) literary landscape with a new and dynamic way to interpret literature, something the literary field has not seen since since Jean-Francois Lyotard described his ideas on narrative in his essay, the Postmodern Condition, published in Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction in the early 1980s.
Lincoln and Darwin: Shared Visions of Race, Science, and Religion by James Lander:
Born on the same day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were true contemporaries. Though shaped by vastly different environments, they had remarkably similar values, purposes, and approaches. In this exciting new study, James Lander places these two iconic men side by side and reveals the parallel views they shared of man and God. While Lincoln is renowned for his oratorical prowess and for the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as many other accomplishments, his scientific and technological interests are not widely recognized; for example, many Americans do not know that Lincoln is the only U.S. president to obtain a patent. Darwin, on the other hand, is celebrated for his scientific achievements but not for his passionate commitment to the abolition of slavery, which in part drove his research in evolution. Both men took great pains to avoid causing unnecessary offense despite having abandoned traditional Christianity. Each had one main adversary who endorsed scientific racism: Lincoln had Stephen A. Douglas, and Darwin had Louis Agassiz. With graceful and sophisticated writing, Lander expands on these commonalities and uncovers more shared connections to people, politics, and events. He traces how these two intellectual giants came to hold remarkably similar perspectives on the evils of racism, the value of science, and the uncertainties of conventional religion. Separated by an ocean but joined in their ideas, Lincoln and Darwin acted as trailblazers, leading their societies toward greater freedom of thought and a greater acceptance of human equality. This fascinating biographical examination brings the mid-nineteenth-century discourse about race, science, and humanitarian sensibility to the forefront using the mutual interests and pursuits of these two historic figures.
Until Darwin, Science, Human Variety and the Origins of Race by B. Ricardo Brown:
Until the publication of Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”, the prevailing theory on ‘the species question’ was that humans were made up of five separate species, created at different times and in different places. This view – known as the ‘polygenic theory’ – was particularly favoured by naturalists of the early nineteenth century ‘American School’ as it provided a scientific justification for slavery. Darwin’s Origin demolished this view. This work fills a gap in recent studies on the history of race and science. Focusing on both the classification systems of human variety and the development of science as the arbiter of truth, Brown looks at the rise of the emerging sciences of life and society – biology and sociology – as well as the debate surrounding slavery and abolition.
Evolutionary Theory and the Creation Controversy by Oliver Rieppel:
Evolutionary theory addresses the phenomenon of the origin and diversity of plant and animal species that we observe. In recent times, however, it has become a predominant ideology which has gained currency far beyond its original confines. Attempts to understand the origin and historical development of human culture, civilization and language, of the powers of human cognition, and even the origin of the moral and ethical values guiding and constraining everyday life in human societies are now cast in an evolutionary context. In “Evolutionary Theory and the Creation Controversy” the author examines evolutionary theory from a historical perspective, explaining underlying metaphysical backgrounds and fundamental philosophical questions such as the paradoxical problem of change, existence and creation. He introduces the scientists involved, their research results and theories, and discusses the evolution of evolutionary theory against the background of Creationism and Intelligent Design.