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Proto-evolutionary biologists

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Complete Wikipedia list of Proto-evolutionary biologists

Some discussionEdit

Edward Blyth served as a starting point for some discussion at Wikipedia, reproduced below.

Charles Darwin and Edward Blyth? Edit

Doing some reading on talkorigins.org led me to trueorigins.org and a few of their articles. There seems to be a creationist idea that Darwin nicked the idea of natural selection from Edward Blyth, who was a creationist. I ask because the Wikipedia article on Blyth (see above) mentions this. How legit is this? I hesitate to believe a darn word the creationists say, which is why I bring this up. grendel|khan 18:13, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

Darwin was certainly influenced by creationists like Blyth (here is a website that claims Blyth as a creationist). However, the challenge would be to point to a published article that existed before those of Darwin and Wallace that coherently expressed the idea of a fundamental role for natural selection in the origin of new species. Blyth wrote things like, "The original form of a species is unquestionably better adapted to its natural habits than any modification of that form." (see) Darwin was able to escape from this kind of thinking about species as fixed forms. --JWSchmidt 18:53, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

Having checked out my site I'm surprised you didn't find this passage in the first part of Blyth's first article - which does indeed support the claim that Blyth recognised the possibility for cumulative change, as well as maintenance of the status quo. See Blyth article and scroll down to the text highlighted in red. (The are other relevant passages, but this is a good place to start.)
Andrew Bradbury 22:22, 16 January, 2006

  • The question is, was his thinking about "cumulative change" concerned with degeneration from "original forms"? Darwin proposed an account of the origin of species, not their degeneration. --JWSchmidt 00:33, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
Darwin wans't quite the first to come up with the idea of evolution, he just wrote a book about it that really got the discussion going. Not surprising considering how obvious evolution is if you just look around and use your brain. Actually, Darwin's father was a Darwinist avant la lettre (which is of course a strang way of putting it because he was also called Darwin :) ). By the way, evolution doesn't preclude creationism. DirkvdM 10:34, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
I wonder exactly what you mean. You made a statement that was extremely arrogant and it simply doesn't make sense. You said that "evolution [is obvious] if you just look around and use your brain." which is very arrogant and foolish. The first is that you make it seem as if you looked around and discovered evolution. You didn't. You sat back and listened to a teacher tell you what you know and never thought twice about it. It probably didn't change your schema of the world drastically and was never even observed with great consideration. You say evolution is obvious. The answer is that it is obvious NOW. We now have the hindsight to see millions of tons of fossils and a large amount of documented speciation links through genetic populations across the world. We have large numbers of scientists who identify the most minute details of species and were able to find that speciation was more than just a hunch. These were serious scientific works and now you state arrogantly that "uh-duh! It is so simple!" but in fact, it took a great amount of proof across species. We have the good fortune to have verifiable proof through the works of Darwin to apply what we learned from the breeding of pigeons to the geographic isolation and subsequent changes in animals to large species, including ourselves. Humans had been breeding animals for as long as they domesticated them, and I'm sure you probably never even thought how those breeds were differentiated from their ancestors.
The reason I must focus on your statement is that there are too many people who use science, which is supposed to serve 'as a candle in the dark' or 'the absense of an ideology' and turn it into a dogmatic subject. That is the reason why creationism is striking itself in so many places. People simply don't understand evolution well enough to fend off the creationists or at least explain their knowledge. When that is coupled with arrogance, people fight creationism with great force but little reasoning. They simply say "use your brain" when they didn't and create a dichotomy of ideas, both of which are completely founded on faith, of which neither one has much scientific thinking behind it.
The reason why creationism (as we know it) originated is because after the Origin of Species, where Darwin really did his good work in explaining how species evolve, he went on to write the Descent of Man, which was not a very popular read for many people because it was founded on less solid evidence, less fossils, and finally, because it ashamed the human race to be known of as the descendants of monkeys. That sparked the controversy. The Origin of Species was subsequently looked at as a work of nonsense because it angered many to know that they were evolved from apes. The culture shock took time to come to grips with, but evolution is the more prevalent theory now. The other reason why evolution of humans was solidified was because scientists got more fossil evidence, so people "used their brains", went out there and proved it. I doubt you did any of that. The main reason why creationism is going up now in American classrooms is because the theory is not being taught well enough and people do not think twice about their positions. If people "used their brains" they would use proof and not just accept things, avoiding the whole "debate" (which is purely political, not scientific).
Don't accept things as "obvious". Use your brain.--Screwball23 talk 15:57, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
This is a spinoff from the main thread. Below is an earlier entry of mine in which I stated that I used the term creationism when I really meant creation (so "evolution doesn't preclude creation"). Also, I said Darwin's father was a Darwinist, which is also wrong. I just said it because it sounded funny. Sorry about that. What I meant is that he was aware of the notion of evolution. And many with and before him, which was my point. The reason for that was not all the fossils which were largely (though not quite exclusively!) found at a later time or the later detailed theorising. I simply meant the basic idea of evolution which is obvious when you think about it. I said something like the following before in another thread a little while ago.
Offspring are like their parents but not exactly the same That's it. That's all the info you need. The rest is thought. Well, you still need to have some notion of reality, namely that 'fitter' individuals (the ones that fit in better with their environment) will have a better chance of surviving, being fit and having offspring. But in the case of, say, deer, that is made so obvious (in the males) that the notion can't escape you. Actually, given how people these days are less in contact with nature might actually be a cause for people losing understanding of evolution. Anyway, the best adapted individuals will survive and pass on their 'good' qualities. Combine that with the variation and you get evolution. It's so obvious (indeed, once you've thought about it) that I find it hard to explain. But especially farmers will have understood. They used breeding, which is basically controlled evolution.
But to realise this you have to stop and think, which is what my remark about 'using your brain' was about. But that could easily be taken the wrong way, as you apparently did. Then again, I meant that in history many people must have stopped and thought an realised this. Which is also what I meant. Of course there are more complex issues, such as species counteradapting to each other - if cohabiting species change they change each other's environment, so the others have to adapt to that, etc. But the basic principle of evolution is extremely simple. Once you've thought about it. And many must have done so in the history of mankind. I wonder when the first such thoughts sprang to people's minds. Was it a result of breeding cattle and such (even hunting dogs?) or was that developed from an understanding of evolution?
You say that creationism is on the rise in the US because evolution is not taught well enough. Then maybe that should be done first by stripping it from its complication, like I tried to do above (not too well, though, I'm afraid). Simply ask kids the question how breeding works. Inspire them to think for themselves. Ask the right questions and they'll take it from there (well, some anyway). By the way, we're not descendants of apes (which misinformed teacher taght you that :) ). We are apes. DirkvdM 08:17, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
A little comparison to illustrate the above. The basic principle of evolution is much simpler than, say, that of gravity. That two objects attract each other is not obvious at all (and when it is obvious they do, it's for a different reason, like magnetism). So it took a long time for that notion to get thought through (still, well before Darwin, though). And even the less obvious notion that the Earth is round was already discovered by the Greeks. But for that you have to live by the sea to see its curvature and have some understanding about the qualaites of water. So, come to think of it, didn't the Greeks have a theory of evolution. Surely there must have been some ancient Greek who came up with the notion of evolution. DirkvdM 08:37, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
I disagree with that as well. The ancient Greeks were not largely evolutionists either. At that time, creationism seemed to make more sense because they hadn't been looking at a large array of species with the detailed and interested view of scientists looking for how change happens over time. In fact, evolution in general would be much harder to prove than gravity. Gravity, which is the force of attraction between two bodies that exists between all things was easy to think of when the planets were further identified and their respective orbits were seen circling larger bodies. The idea that "some ancient Greek [surely must have came up with the notion]" is giving a large amount of credit to individuals in society. There aren't a great number of free-thinkers out there who can think of one single difficult theory like that alone on an isolated Greek island. In fact, the accumulation of knowledge about evolution happened largely because of the growth of fossilized remains. Similarly, evolution requires great proof. There is debate in the scientific community as to what constitutes a species, but scientists have been able to isolate populations of a certain species and let them breed separately, and when the two were reunited, they usually chose not to mate with each other. This is still not solid proof of evolution because they are not really "species" much like there are anthropologists who debate race among humans.

To expand further on the idea that children aren't being taught evolution well enough, many evolutionists are very happy to announce that a belief in evolution increases with greater education, meaning that children need to think it out for themselves over time and often do come to the thought of evolution. However, they had to be taught this very well over a long time. Many had to rethink their faiths and their schema of the world greatly. You make it sound very simple because you probably never had to. You were taught one pattern and one idea about your origins and your life and never had to "use your brain" to really think it out. Breeding and genetic variation are very good examples, but in order to say definitively evolution does exist required a lot more evidence and solid facts than you give credit for. You continually compare yourself to a higher individual or a free-thinker much like that Greek you made up, but in fact, you must remember, you didn't discover evolution. You had the evidence and the knowledge accumulated for you and you had to use that to learn the truth. I largely doubt your sure-fire thought that evolution is "obvious". The same goes for your approach to teaching it to children. You say, tell them to see it for themselves. You can't say you saw evolution. You can't just say "believe it like I did" right away and say "it is extremely obvious". Another thing of interest is the immediate separation you make, almost like religious denominations. "well, some [will take it] anyway". That means you want some to just believe something because you say so and would separate yourself from the others, telling them to "go look and you can see evolution", practically ignoring any criticism of your ideology. That isn't science. A scientist would defend his theories. To say "some will learn it, the rest will have to go look for it" is not scientific or educational. That is dogmatic in a sense. Again, don't take what you know of in such an arrogant form. The ideas of evolution are the result of an "evolution" of theories and evidence that eventually led to more concrete knowledge. It isn't a process you can go out and demonstrate to the class. It is indeed not obvious, but more of a learned and complicated branch of knowledge. It is among the fundamentals of science, crucial to our understanding of living things, but is not very "basic". Even the basic models have experienced scientific thought--gradualism, punctuated equilibrium, and genetic variation--all added and combined to make the theory bigger and better, so it wasn't an unmoving and stable idea that you can "see for yourself". Don't confuse science with dogma and don't think the education system is doing such an adequate job if we can see great confusion among school districts across the country.--Screwball23 talk 17:17, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

While the Theory of Evolution, and science in general, don't eliminate the possibility of creationism, say in the form that "God created the big bang", they do eliminate the version of creationism listed in the Bible, Torah, Koran, etc.
In short, when creationism is sufficiently vague, it can't be tested and refuted. However, when it is specific enough to be verified, it can be disproven. For example, accounts of the creation of the Earth being several thousand years ago can be disproven in many, many ways. Those include radioactive decay, continental drift, magnetic reversals, biodiversity levels, etc. StuRat 17:04, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I used the wrong term, I meant 'creation'. 'Creationism' is much more specific. Btw, all your arguments can be wiped off the table with the argument that God created those illusions to test our faith :) . That is, all but the first. DirkvdM 09:37, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
That is very true. A belief that evolution was put there to "tempt mankind" into secular humanism would ruin the relationship between science and religion entirely. That would make all we know of through evolutionary science a type of pseudo-science because of a greater master plan. Unfortunately, this view is directly connected to religion and would encompass presumptions for which there are no experiments. That would only disprove macroevolution (the evolution of different higher species) but wouldn't stop microevolution, which can be proven very well now. That would be a very slippery ideology and would accomplish all that creationists are angry about--the descent of man from ape-like ancestors. Such a view is assuming a different nature to the Divine One and is a simple dismissal of all that evolutionary science and anthropology has taught us. It's an interesting idea.--Screwball23 talk 19:23, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
  • After the reception of Origin of Species, a handful of "heirs" came out of the woodwork to claim priority. There is little evidence that Darwin took anything substantial from them -- his main influences, both in the genesis, formation, and articulation of his theory, came from sources which he cited excessively. I don't know the details of the Blyth question in particular, but the fact that the main link given to support the line in the article is from an anti-Darwinian Creationist article, I removed it as being fairly POV. If it is something of relevant historical consequence it should not be hard to find a legitimate source. In any event, it would be worth noting that Darwin's theory was one about speciation -- the emergence and differentiation of species of animals, not just that sick animals die off more than healthy ones. --Fastfission 03:28, 3 November 2005 (UTC)]|]

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