Chapter 1

1 downloads 28 Views 195KB Size Report
On one side, they strike water and turn into fish; on the other, they strike the ground and turn into birds.2. Just like myths, these imaginary tales try to explain the ...

Chapter 1 "WAITING FOR DARWIN" From pre-Socratic myths to the transformism of Lamarck

Just by looking at plants or animals grow, we are prompted into asking intriguing questions about the fate and history of living things. These questions arise from the prodigious unity and harmony of biological processes and also from the human mind's difficulty, even inability, to grasp all the underlying mechanisms. They voice at least three concerns. The first is about the origin of self and mankind (a wise man in the Bible says: "There are three things which I cannot understand, and a fourth which I know not the tracks of an eagle in its flying - the footsteps of a serpent on a rock - the marks of a ship crossing the sea - and the ways of a man in youth" 1). The second is about daily rations (in Antiquity, it was widely believed that, on poor soil, wheat could change into barley just as barley could change into oats), and the third about the future. Philosophical and religious views on the origin of the world

When considering the origin of the world from a philosophical and religious standpoint, we have to distinguish between procession, emanation, transformation, and creation. Procession takes place when an immutable character is transferred in its entirety to several beings without any substance being divided. Emanation occurs when a being derives from its own substance a similar or analogous substance with a separate existence, or when a being produces within itself a new manner of being that is both distinct (independent) and indistinct (selfsupported). Transformation occurs when an external agent intervenes and changes the state of a being. Finally, there is creation when God confers existence, without himself, to a substantiality that did not preexist. 5


Gene Avatars–The neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution

All cultures have their own folklore about the origins and metamorphoses of living things as this tale from a 17th century French botany book: There is a tree admittedly not common in France but often found in Scotland. Leaves fall from this tree. On one side, they strike water and turn into fish; on the other, they strike the ground and turn into birds.2 Just like myths, these imaginary tales try to explain the origin and meaning of the world and how it came to look the way it does. They have given way to philosophical and scientific theories in all the cultures where these theories have developed and taken a hold. However, representations of the world in both mythological or scientific discourse have always embraced the idea of evolution even though this idea may have taken very different forms and held different positions in time and place.