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By sharma1124 Dec 17, 2012 916 Words
The Theory of Evolution

One of the greatest questions of all time is: "Where did we all come from?" One of the most popular answers to this question is creationism, the idea that everything was created by a higher being. Another popular idea is evolution, the idea that all living organisms descended from a less complex organism. Evolution possesses a new way of thinking that is being greatly accepted by the scientific community, but not by pious groups of people. Creation and evolution are diametrically opposed. This debate between religion and science has its origin from the time when Charles Darwin first published the theory of evolution in his controversial 1859 book On the Origin of Species. Evolution is based on two underlying principles as suggested by renowned Charles Darwin: heredity and natural selection. Heredity is the principle that organisms pass on different combinations of their traits to their offspring. If an organism has strong traits that help it to survive, then its offsprings are likely to possess some of those same strong traits and be more likely to survive.  The second principle is natural selection, better known as "survival of the fittest." According to natural selection, the organisms with strong, "fit" traits are more likely to survive long enough to reproduce than are the organisms with weak, "unfit" traits; thus over time, the strong organisms will survive and the weak ones will die out.  In this way, only the strong traits that help organisms to survive will be preserved over long periods of time. There are four prominent scientists who are regarded as the creators of the idea of evolution. They are Charles Darwin, Jean Baptiste Lamarck, Alfred Wallace, and Robert Chambers. One of the most famous minds in the field of evolution was Charles Darwin. Darwin was not the first one to offer theories on evolution. There have been many scientists who preceded him. One of the evolutionists who came up with models of evolution was, Jean Baptiste Lamarck. Lamarck was struck by the similarities of many of the animals he studied. He came to the conclusion that that life was constantly changing. When the environments changed, organisms had to change their behavior to survive. If they started to use an organ more than they had in the past, then the organ would increase in its lifetime. The organisms’ offsprings would inherit the needed organ, and this process would continue through several generations. As it turned out, the work of Lamarck was quite influential on Darwin. Lamarck's views on inheritance of characteristics can be seen in Darwin's accounts of natural selection. When Lamarck wrote of transmutation, Darwin followed with his beliefs of the mutability of species. As well, Darwin also used Lamarck's ideas on use and disuse of organs. Lamarck was not the greatest of influences on Darwin, but he was an important one. Another notable influence on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was a man named Alfred Wallace. He is best known for proposing the theory of natural selection, which led to Darwin realizing that all species of life had evolved from common ancestors. Natural Selection is the process by which favorable traits pass on to the next generations, and the unfavorable traits are left behind. Natural Selection acts on a organism’s phenotype (physical characteristics). The phenotype is determined by the organism’s genotype (genetic make up). It was Wallace who helped Darwin in constructing the full picture of evolution through natural selection. Robert Chambers also contributed to the evolutionary thought. Chambers was the author of the sensational book on evolution in 1844, Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. Within a few years ten separate editions came out of the book and exceeded the sales of On the Origin of Species by Darwin in 1859. Surprisingly, Chambers authorship was only revealed after his death. Unfortunately, the author didn’t receive the well-deserved credit for writing such a path-breaking book. The book’s content was based on transmutation, or now known as evolution.  It suggested that everything currently in existence had developed from earlier forms. The book was well appreciated by the Nonconformists. Chambers’ book had a very clear impact on Darwin. The response Chambers gained was very similar to the response Darwin received for his book, which was based on the fact that populations evolve over the course of generation through natural selection. His idea of natural selection, a key to evolution received much objection, and was not at first appreciated by the scientific community. The Church interpreted natural selection as an instrument of God's design, whereas Darwin hoped for a secular approach. Chamber’s work was a big aid to Darwin since that give the courage to share his unconventional views. Having an example before him aided Darwin since he knew what to expect. In conclusion, contrary to popular belief, Darwin isn’t the one to be given all the credit for coming up with the theory of evolution. In reality, it took the work of others such as Jean Baptiste Lamarck, Alfred Wallace, and Robert Chambers to fully construct the theory of evolution. Darwin used bits of information from the scientists mentioned above and combined that information with his own research to end up with the idea of evolution. It was only because of their work that Darwin’s theory of evolution was completed and presented to people through his book, On the Origin of Species. The other three scientists should also be praised for making notable contributions to the theory of evolution.

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