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July 04, 2008

In the News (Personal)

The cover article in this week’s Newsweek magazine was based on the fact that both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day in 1809, and was more intelligently written than I might have expected, given the intrinsically fatuous nature of the question asked by its title. As an example of how unpredictably the human brain can generate ideas, the reference to Darwin was still reverberating this morning when I happened to watch a new program on Science Channel dealing with earthquakes, volcanoes and other natural disasters. That linkage led me to ask a rhetorical question of my own: why we have yet to hear any complaints from creationists about Tectonic Plate Theory despite the fact that it dovetails so elegantly with the basic premise of Evolution?

By the same token, why is Charles Darwin such a well known name and that of Charles Lyell, a contemporary who exerted considerable influence on Darwin so relatively unknown?

The answer to my rhetorical question is that Darwin, just as he and his wife had feared, has become a whipping boy for religious fundamentalists for daring to announce findings that so clearly challenged prevailing religious beliefs. Ironically, as the Newsweek article pointed out, both he and Lincoln, were shy, talented mavericks. Neither was an early bloomer nor particularly religious; yet both pursued compelling ideas with an obsessive intensity that eventually led to profound changes in human culture, but probably didn’t provide any tangible rewards to either during their lifetimes; other than (perhaps),the satisfaction of knowing they were right.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at July 4, 2008 09:27 PM