What would a world without Darwin look like? Many have argued that science would have developed much the same. His theory of evolution by natural selection was "in the air" at the time, an inevitable product of the way people were thinking about themselves and the world they lived in. If Darwin hadn't proposed it, then someone else would have, most obviously the naturalist we know as the "co-discoverer" of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace. Events would have unfolded more or less as we know them, although without the iconic term "Darwinism" to denote the evolutionary paradigm. But Wallace's version of the theory was not the same as Darwin's, and he had very different ideas about its implications. And since Wallace conceived his theory in 1858, any equivalent to Darwin's 1859 Origin of Species would have appeared years later. There probably would have been an evolutionary movement in the late nineteenth century, but it would have been based on different theoretical foundations--theories that were actually tried out in our own world and that for a time were thought to overshadow Darwin's.
Darwinism was eventually rescued when the new science of genetics undermined the plausibility of the rival theories of evolution following the "rediscovery" of Mendel's laws of heredity in 1900. I suspect that in a world without Darwin, it would have taken until the early twentieth century for the theory of natural selection to come to the attention of most biologists. Evolution would have emerged; science would be composed of roughly the same battery of theories we have today, but the complex would have been assembled in a different way. In our world, evolutionary developmental biology had to challenge the simpleminded gene-centered Darwinism of the 1960s to generate a more sophisticated paradigm. In the non-Darwinian world, the developmental model would have been dominant throughout and would have been modified to accommodate the idea of selection in the mid-twentieth century.
Why is this exercise of any interest at all? If biology ultimately develops toward the same end product, why should anyone care about the possibility that the major discoveries might have been made in an order different from the one we actually experienced? As far as science itself is concerned, the topic may well be academic (in the best sense of the term), but there are wider issues at stake. We might have ended up with similar theories, but we would think about them differently if they had emerged at different times, and this would affect public attitudes toward them.
The impact of Darwin's theory was of course not limited to science itself--it has been seen as a major contributor to the rise of materialism and atheism. Evolutionism offends many religious believers, but of even greater concern is the idea that change is based on chance variations winnowed out by a ruthless struggle for existence. In the eyes of its critics, Darwin's theory of natural selection inspired generations of social thinkers and ideologues to promote harsh policies known as "social Darwinism." Creationists frequently claim that Darwin was directly responsible for generating the vision of Aryan racial superiority that inspired the Nazis to attempt the extermination of the Jews. Apparently it is not enough for critics to challenge Darwinism on allegedly scientific grounds--they contend that it is also immoral and hence dangerous. Even if the scientific evidence is tempting, one shouldn't consider the theory because it would undermine morality and the social order. But should certain ideas in science be ruled out of court whatever the evidence suggests?
My interest in exploring what happens in a world without Darwin is driven by the hope of using history to undermine the claim that the theory of natural selection inspired the various forms of social Darwinism. The world in which Darwin did not write the Origin of Species would have experienced more or less all of our history's social and cultural developments. Racism and various ideologies of individual and national struggle would have flourished just the same and would have drawn their scientific justification from the rival, non-Darwinian ideas of evolution. This is no mere conjecture, because the real-world opponents of Darwinism were active in lending support to the ideologies most of us now find so distasteful. Science simply cannot bear the burden imposed on it by those who think it can inspire whole social movements--on the contrary, science is shaped by the social matrix within which it is conducted. In the world without Darwin, the horrors would still exist, but the theory of natural selection would not have the bogeyman image associated with it by its critics because it would have been developed too late to play a significant role. We need to think harder about the wider tensions in our culture responsible for the ideologies that came to have the inoffensive Darwin as their figurehead.
This article was reprinted with permission from Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World without Darwin by Peter J. Bowler, published by the University of Chicago Press. © 2013 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
What if anything, lol.
Evolution 'theory' would of develop anyways, yes. But evolution is not the only answer to the development of life on Earth either. Life seeds Earth from the cosmos, via comets or other alien visitors with some opinions these visitors being divine.
Human’s most recent concern will be not the sun in induced cycles of the sun global warming, but the world industrial revolution induced global warming, population growth, dwindling resources and the falling of the magnetic poles period, until the poles actually switch!
Earth is currently in the transition of a pole switch and there will be a period of having no poles or multiple weak poles with massive solar energy hitting Earth. In this transit period radiation cancer deaths will multiply into the 100k yearly for humanity.
See these links:
Nova - Magnetic Storm - Earth's Invisible Shield .
Earth's magnetic field
What if Einstein died as a boy?
What if there was no goo-ie center in my tootsie pop?
What if Germany won the war?
What if the Twinkie manufacture still made Twinkies?
“What if”, lol, life will adapt and continue!
Science wouldn't be suffering such a set back. Endlessly pouring money grasping at straws trying to prop up this particular dying theory.
this might give a better perspective.
This is a well written article and something that has always fascinated me. Thanks for a real article for a change!
I have started to believe in the idea of a technology tree, much like the ones in Age of Empires or any other game with upgradable parts. You cannot achieve Z without first researching X and Y. I think this is how the Earth works and has worked straight from the get go. It may have taken more time but at some point someone would have thought of it which would have spurred the same outcomes and same further research.
The Sumerian people knew the Earth was round and knew of all the planets in our solar system, even those humans could not readily observe. But the Sumerian people had knowledge of them.
People see the facts often right in front of them and those in power push their ideas upon them, holding down the facts until the pressure is removed.
The same would be true of the theory of evolution.
Sometimes you have to step away from those around you, to clearly see the thing you’re observing; you need a fresh perspective.
Finding and creating that fresh perspective can be a very hard thing to do, even possesing the desire to do so, in the first place.
The biggest road block to humanity is to find out we are a lot older than previously known and have much wiser long ago too as a people.
No no no, I could not be related to a monkey!!! Impossible, that idea offends me.
No no no, I could not had my DNA tweaked in the past from a being from above or GOD and create humans, that offends me.
Time to find a fresh perspective, eh.
Hmmmm. The article poses a simple question, and gives a likely answer as well, "Someone else would have done it, shortly after."
Yet the comments here are about ancient aliens and that the "Earth is currently in the transition of a pole switch."
LoL, your right, what a jump, rofl... I read a lot and well all this stuff just rattles around in my head and sometimes it burps forth. I do not mean to do it disrupt the flow of the article, it just happens. ;)
None of us has the mind required to calculate such "what if" possibilities. A guess in such cases has little value apart from entertainment. Also mentioning evolution along with atrocities is silly. They have happened many many times in the past before Darwin (and others) came along. The reasons are endless but additionally, the concept of "survival of the fittest" is probably as old as time.
As for those that try to refute evolution (Bagpipes 100), just come up with any reasonable alternate theory. Like it or not, you must accept a current theory if there is nothing else to choose from.
There should be thousands of insects on the ground today with different kinds of undeveloped wings that don't work but are in transition for their future descendants to have working wings to support Darwins theory. Wings are not necessary for survival. There are many insects that move slowly across the earth's surface and survive just fine without wings. I get tired of hearing from evolutionsist that it takes millions of years for a species to transition to a different type. I can bet that the next fossil that will be found will be either a species we have already found or a different species but never a transitional species. Millions of years of transformation but all the important fossils supporting evolution decays entirely but we have no problem finding redundant ones we dont need. What ever happen to the rules of probability? If a jar is full of random white and blue marbles, each time a blue marble is removed the chances of picking a white marble increases. Right about now, all the new fossil discoveries should be the missing links for the various species we have today. The whole thing is sickening because each time a discovery is made we try to fit it into Darwins model but it don't exactly fit and so the scientist argue about the discovery. I'm tired of it. IBM invented the fastest super computer capable of 8.162 quadrillion operations/sec. Our most powerful collider is the Large Hadron Collider capable of smashing subatomic particles yet we cant take the same periodic table and make a single blade of grass. Until we can take the periodic table and build any of nature's simple components, I dismiss any scientific reasoning of evolution. So Darwin would have been better off had he jumped overboard.
it is important to have a least a fundamental grasp of evolution ... and probability. For example, a species can undergo a change rapidly due to conditions and then remain unchanged for millions of years. Despite such difficulties, there is so much evidence pointing to evolution that it would take something truly astounding to come along and overturn it. Might as well believe in magic before that happens. Evolution, like other subjects such as cosmology, is mind-boggling to the layperson who cannot take in enough information to see the powerful details supporting the theory. In spite of your ill-will towards Darwin, the evidence was always there to be discovered and would have been regardless. Do you think we would not have gone to the moon if not for the Wright Brothers? By the way, what is your competing theory? As I mentioned earlier, without something even more plausible, the best theory must be accepted even if grudgingly.
While Darwin was first to publish a coherent theory of biological evolution, and he deserves much credit for doing so, if he had not done so there were many others doing similar work at the time who would have eventually developed comparable theories.
What indeed? In reality it doesn't much matter.
The theory of evolution would likely have emerged from other sources -- or it wouldn't. In either case, it doesn't really matter.
Because evolution isn't like global warming or other things which humanity can impact. If it's true, it proceeds along whether anyone believes in it or not. You can argue that it helps us understand how things work, and that's true, but that's where it ends.
That's why I always wonder about the tremendous controversy.
@ Far Out Man
As for my theory? I don't know. What's wrong with saying we don't know? Thought is a process that happens in the brain. Our observational studies reveals it to be only electrical pulses but yet through thought comes some of the most wonderful masterpieces in the world. Scientist are completely baffled by it. The same with magnetism, you can't use your senses to define it in itself but only study the effects of it. Albert Einstein gave up his static theory of the universe when Edward Hubble discoverd that the universe was in fact expanding due to some mysterious energy that can't be seen. I understand the basics of evolution, which has not been backed by empirical studies. Even at its very basic level, I see no correlation, zero. I have been very open-minded about this topic. I know the difference between paint being thrown on a piece of canvas and paint being applied in an constructive way. There is not enought randomness in nature to support Darwins claims. For every species that is camouflage there are a hundred in brilliant colors saying I am here, eat me. Why only two eyes I have searched for land animals with 13 eyes or eyes in the back of their head. where are the 11 legged creatures because nature shows that it can handle the randomness without extinction according scientist publications. How many chances does a new bird get to build a nest in a tree starting with big twigs to wooving in smaller branches to light soft downy material. At what point does the bird understand that the walls of the nest is high enough. Yet we want to say instinct. As humans some of that instinct should be in our DNA. Our children should be building weird things for no reason just because something was turned on in their DNA from the dinosaur era. I'm just saying we need to see more animals with variety much like the platypus. My observations as a child from playing with a variety of insects would lean me more toward an intelligent design but I just don't understand from where and how it is done. Like thought, I can only look at the effects of it which are cars, rockets and etc. but still not have a grasp of what thought is. Far Out Man I don't know but common sense says it isn't evolution.
When a person states I have a 'theory', a silent given is they are also saying 'I do not know factually', but here goes, 'out loud now', my best guess, followed with what ever support they have.
AnyIcon you are strange, but wise.
You cant fault scientists for not believing in gods though, because if they believed without proof they would not be any good at science.
Human languages, definition and interpretation confuses many issues one being the word GOD. I am not all wrap up in the word or words, but try to see the meanings of things as they interact in life.
Modern opponents to Darwin are so ignorant of what the man was about they do not realize they have more in common with Darwin than Evolutionists do.
Darwin had the same concerns they do. He said "To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."
Darwin was ignorant about DNA just like Creationists are.
Modern Evolutionists give Darwin credit for having the right idea, but the flimsy evidence Darwin had at the time was mocked then and would still be mocked today, just as Creationists are mocked.
Darwin had no way of showing that all animals were related much less plants and animals.
Evolutionists can simply use DNA to show that all life on the planet is based on similar DNA, and DNA can even be swapped at will between any two species, even plants and animals.
Darwin would be just as concerned about the moral and spiritual implications of modern genetics as Creationists are.
So why do Creationists continue to attack Darwin, a man who was as afraid of his own discoveries as they are today, while ignorantly chowing down on genetically modified organisms that would have made Darwin throw up his organically grown lunch?
D13 I think if your plan was ever possible (and I think it will be) it would be sabotaged at every attempt, because many people don't actually want anyone to know the truth.
I hope those types of people are extinct before that time comes.
Yes, even if Darwin never existed it is human nature to fabricate a story and sell it as truth when we don't have the answer to something just like the creationist and evolutionist have been doing. There is a big difference between saying this is a theory but we don't know yet and saying this is a theory but treating it as true similar to what modern evolutionist has been perpetuating. Its funny how modern science has become just as religious as the creationist. Because Darwin theory has been widely accepted as truth in the scientific community, it is difficult to treat data objectively since it must fit into the evolution model. Therfore, data is always susceptible to being skewed and misclassified and hinders the real work of finding out what the truth is. There is a ever growing need to keep science pure and more based on emperical research not just belief.
D13, perhaps one day we will be able to know the truth. However, even if we had the technology to deliver us those facts, the chances are our human nature will not accept it and try to find a way to dispute it.
What if Darwin had never existed? Well, they probably wouldn't be called the "Darwin" awards, but the same people would still win.
It would be a better world.
If Darwin never existed, then none of us would ever know the joy of being a monkeys uncle, rofl..... snort.
The world would likely be vastly different if Darwin had not existed or had died prior to writing Origin of the Species. To assume someone else would have offered the same concept and it would have accomplished the same things is rather unlikely. Then again, if you believe everything happened by accident billions of years ago and we are the product of lucky genetic mistakes, I guess you could believe someone else would have got us to the same place.
what do you propose that I believe, if not what is presented in endless amounts of data?
Whether folks were working on similar ideas during the time of Darwin is not relevant (i.e. the moment in time when an idea bore fruit). The truly limiting factor is technology. The expansion of knowledge must suffer stutters and stops while waiting for the needed tools to be invented.
The beatification of Darwin as a sort of minor god in science, is more of a cornerstone for secular progressives - than a fact of science. Poor ole Darwin barely got his thesis in under the wire. Several other credentialed scientist were diddling with the concept. Darwin cooked some books (burned a letter) - got published (more or less, first) and spent the rest of his life in litigation.
Science (such as it was) had compiled enough observations to make this theoretical leap with or without Darwin.
Darwin didn't do a particularly bad job of it. His thesis stood up well - well based on many of his own personal observations.
Still, Darwin was one of his own greatest detractors. Evolution (as appealing as it is to the secular mind) simply doesn't have enough smoke and mirrors to make it a slam dunk.
Basically, evolution is a concoction of vast amounts of time, mixed with bunches of generational replication errors, - and, presto chango - ones goes from an amoeba to an elephant.
well, cool beans.
But, Even Darwin lost sleep over this.
Just consider an "eye."
Some where, some thing, sloshing around completely unaware of light - decides that vision would be a survival advantage.
Bear in mind, DNA is an incredibly reliable way of storing information (code.) Only rarely, does it screw up.
But, in order to get vision:
You need some kind of eye,
The neural network to pre-process before sending it to a brain.
The brain has to develop a specialized region for processing the images.
make two of them - cuz, stereoscopic vision yields depth of field which is cool.
Eyebrows, Eyelashes, Eyelids are options.
while you are at it, make them in different colors.
Specialize them for low light levels, high light levels, swimming in water and flying in the air.
Now, all this basically has to happen all at once - for each critter that wants them.
Incremental, transitional, DNA code errors would be useless.
For the evolving appendage to be useful - improving the survive-abiltiy of the host, thus passing on the trait - It has to be empirically manifest.
The number of simultaneous, beneficial DNA code errors - necessary to manifest an eye, a nose, or a taste-bud runs in to the millions.
The universe is only 14 billion years old.
Life as recorded in the fossil records is much past a billion or so.
There simply hasn't been enough time (generations) to spawn all the code errors necessary to account for all the pieces-parts, of all the species, of all the various life forms that we have stumbled across to date.
There is also a dearth of fossil examples of critters - say:
With one eye.
an eyeball not connected to a brain.
a brain capable of vision without an eye.
Not that fossils could display this, - but, you get the idea.
There isn't a lot in the fossil records that show gradualism.
There aren't a lot of examples manifesting slow changes where there is almost an eye - or, a proto eyebrow, etc.
The evolutionists argument is that only the successes survived enough to populate the fossil records.
All the transitionals died off before they could be fossilized.
But, if the transitionals died off, how did their mutation get passed on in sufficient numbers to allow subsequent generations to compile additional mutations - that still did not result in a survive-ability advantage.
Something else has to be going on.
A million years is a big deal to something that only lives 100 years.
But, for evolution to work, it needs a lot more time.
What I believe that Darwin stumbled upon (and Mendelssohn, too - for that matter) is genetic adaptability. There does appear to be excess code and variability of traits that go un-noticed in the short term. Over longer periods of time, corroborated with longer periods of observations, many species manifest a surprising amount of variations in physical traits - as well as, behavioral traits. At times these oddities are beneficial, other times not. But, they do allow a certain flexibility - at times - when the species environment is changing. The species with the least amount of these oddities have the hardest time dealing with change.
This can result in moths that appear to change color over generations.
Birds with varying beak lengths that vary from island to island contingent on available food source.
But, the moth is still a moth - the bird is still a bird.
The fossil record does not support enough transitional species, to date.
Evolutionary theory would have developed in the absence of Charles Darwin. Indeed, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was highly similar to the theory proposed by his own uncle, Erasmus Darwin, decades earlier. Charles Darwin's main contribution was not his theory, but rather his experimental evidence that he collected to support it.
In the same way that Darwin did not invent evolutionary theory, or, more to the point, that evolutionary theory was a product of the general intellectual gestalt of the time, so too was social Darwinism. If Charles Darwin's work had never existed, the intellectuals would have to have invented him. Class warfare, race warfare, constructive destruction, survival of the fittest, Machiavellian manipulation, violent revolution and revolt were (and often still are) considered the birth places of new life, new order, new worlds. Darwin was both a symptom and a contributor to this general sense. The Nazis did not become racists because of Darwin, but they were happy to use his work to further their cause, because it meshed so well with their own agenda. Well it should! Germany at the time was virtually bursting at the seams with the very intellectuals who championed the great purges that consume the dross, and these people were all across Europe. France certainly thought highly of their own revolutionary accomplishments in this department; that was the inspiration for several violent, blood-drenched revolutions around the world afterward (and most of the top leaders of those revolutions studied or lived for a while in Paris).
You cannot divorce Darwin from Nazi racial theories so easily as claiming that Darwin merely told a sterile scientific truth that the Nazis happened to hijack. They were all part of the same intellectual climate of the time. Darwin saw what he saw through the lens of his time and place, just as the Nazis did, and they were the same lens.
Darwin made observations in nature and published it as a theory. Had he not done so somebody else would have. I suppose an idea appears when it's time is ripe. So if anybody makes observations that are contrary to evolution he must say so and he can attack the concept, causing it to be modified or abandoned. That is the scientific method.
Creationism does not require proof, only faith. So you can not question its tenets. It could be just an excuse for somebody too lazy to think.
The fact that the Nazis used Darwinism was just opportunistic, they used religions, even Germanic mythologies as well. Whatever they could use to influence people into following them. Not wanting to excuse the Nazis, but eugenics had a wide following, also in the US, in the first half of the 20th century.
Not being a scientist, but just living life, I feel I am part of the animal world around me, we are relate and at the same time, I feel the human species is special too.
quite a long post! Without getting into the details, you've demonstrated that you have a keen interest in the subject so I must ask what competing theory you are proposing or espousing? What theory fits the data better?
A billion years is difficult for our minds to grasp. To suggest that it is "not long enough" is quite surprising. Additionally early rapid development is likely, with simple organisms. One obvious reason is the many generations that are possible each year. You don't see many odd examples of life because all living things are related and have a common ancestor. That ancestor was already the "winner" in a battle for survival demonstrating an efficient evolutionary type that was then carried forth by all of its offshoots. There may be a more efficient arrangement but it is unlikely to appear now. Survival of the fittest really means the fittest for those particular conditions .. not always the best model overall. When we find life on other worlds (a virtual certainty), we will see some of these other arrangements and possibly some situations where there are still two or more competing models.
that's a horrible (but well written) reach. Darwin had nothing to do with the thinking of the Nazis and there is considerable time between them anyhow. Likewise, Einstein and all the other brilliant minds involved are not responsible for the atomic bomb.