We all know the story of Charles Darwin. He took a tour of the Galápagos Island, conceived his brilliant idea about evolution, spent the next few decades working out the details, nearly got swiped by a young startup, raced to finalize his book on the topic, and in 1859 published On the Origin of Species, forever changing our understanding of how humans and all other species came to be. The rest is (usually) history…or in the case of Darwin’s theory of evolution, paleonto-history.
In terms of the theory of evolution, 1859 was only the beginning of the story. Even today, the concept is hotly contested in the halls of academy and culture. Intelligent Design versus Intelligent People you might say. Of course, intelligent design isn’t about “design” as much as being a theory for God—which evolution doesn’t try to disprove. Evolution only challenges specific ideations of God—bringing new discoveries, such as the Higgs Boson, into the discussion. Alas, that’s not what I’m writing about here.
Beyond the debate lies a practical application for evolution that allows us to peer into the mechanics of our society and ask the deep, difficult questions revolving around our relationship to nature and sustainability. Specifically, how many of our systems are still functioning in a state of pre-evolutionary discovery, or what I call “the creationist perspective”?
It took medicine more than a century to begin successfully applying evolutionary science to the research and treatment of disease. The first serious efforts to integrate Darwin’s theory into sciences like psychology and sociology didn’t begin until in the 1970’s and 80’s—over a hundred years after On the Origin of Species was published. Today of course, genetics, genes and heredity are all squarely parts of biology, medicine, and the other sciences.
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